You might recognize the friendly, mustachioed face of Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Tyler Butterworth from his Instagram Reels that mimic super models doing ASMR on luxury vehicles.
Armed with a small hand microphone in one recent iteration, Butterworth strokes a military-grade Gator, sensually caressing the generic service vehicle to mock its Mercedes counterpart.
As funny as his videos are, however, they actually aren’t just for laughs. Butterworth has been using them as a recruiting tool — like a true shammer.
“My inspiration was to do less work,” he told Military Times. “I very quickly realized that most kids we’re looking to recruit don’t even know their own phone number or have an email address. I figured the way to communicate [with them] best is the way they do with each other, and that’s through social media.”
The results, so far, are promising. Butterworth said about 90 percent of his recruits come via social media, namely Instagram, though his videos are popular on TikTok as well.
And the effort hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Army or National Guard. Butterworth is now transitioning from serving with the Virginia Army National Guard in the recruiting and retention battalion to the National Guard Bureau’s marketing team.
Despite the fact that TikTok use has been discouraged over operational security concerns and Chinese surveillance, the platform has proved a useful tool for recruiters, helping the Army meet recruits where they “hang out.”
“At the highest level, the Army supports this,” he said. “I actually just briefed the secretary of the Army, the sergeant major of the Army, and the chief staff of the Army this past week on an innovative idea on how we can better target people to enlist and spread information to soldiers currently in the Army.”
As for the videos, though Butterworth is using them for recruiting purposes, they also allow him an opportunity to be goofy, be himself, and learn new things in the military. Butterworth originally tried out more informative, serious clips before realizing that his bread and butter was humor.
“I like being funny, so I’m just going to be myself, and that’s when I started making the funny videos,” Butterworth said. “I truly enjoy making videos and being funny. The more people that I can involve in it, the better it shows our diversity and who we are as soldiers.”
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.