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Organizations touch base using social media

Posted 9/9/2011   Updated 9/9/2011 Email story   Print story


by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs

9/9/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Millions of people log into social media sites every day. "Tweet" and "friending" are becoming parts of everyday vernacular. Now more than ever, organizations are hoping to find their niche in this increasingly social web. Maxwell is no stranger to social media as several base offices are using Facebook and Twitter to connect with personnel and clientele.

Air University Public Affairs manages the official Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts for Maxwell and Gunter. While they aim to deliver information to personnel and their families, they also strive to give community members and civic leaders in the local area a window into Air Force culture and a connection to the base, according to Air University Public Affairs director Maj. John Redfield.

"Social media is an extremely popular form of communication for most Americans; millions use it every day. We want to reach out to the individuals in these forums and share the mission here at Maxwell-Gunter," he said. "Social media allows us to do things like highlight the great personnel we have working here and the strong relationship we have with the River Region community. Social media is an excellent way for Maxwell-Gunter to reach out to military personnel, family members and local community members to start a conversation about our mission."

It's important to monitor feedback from your social media presence, according to Redfield. There are several sites that monitor what people are saying about your pages and how effectively you are reaching your target audience.

The Maxwell Fitness Center uses Facebook to keep people up to date quickly and easily on various news and events.

"Facebook is a great way to interact with our customers. They can contact us with any questions or comments," said Laura Bohannon, who works at the center. "We hope to give our customers easy access to all the fitness center offers while still maintaining personal contact. Hopefully we can relay information faster and reach numerous people with one post.

Bohannon said the key to social media success is to keep the information "fresh." Wait too long between posts and you'll lose your audience.

The 908th Airlift Wing uses Facebook to share information, stories and photos with wing members, but it also utilizes the site to reach retirees and other interested external parties. Facebook allows easy access for people who don't deal directly with the wing day to day, according to Lt. Col. Jerry Lobb, chief of public affairs for the 908th Airlift Wing.

While Facebook is an important tool for the wing, Lobb says it's important to adapt to the changing webscape.

"To reach our audience, we have to go where they are. Facebook is a site many people use now to connect and find information," Lobb said. "In a few years, the site of choice may change to another new, trendier site. When that happens, we'll have a presence there as well."

Senior Master Sgt. Martha Roy, 908th Force Support Squadron superintendent, manages her unit's Facebook page and a family support page, but she also utilizes a personal account to communicate with her unit.

"We want to get information out to our wing so that they can have info 24 hours a day," Roy said. "Since we are a Reserve unit, we have members who live in other cities and states. With my Facebook account, I am able to get news out to wing social media users in a quick manner."

Roy also warned users to be careful about what they post. "Always remember operations security. Anyone can see what you put on your site," she said.

The base marketing department uses both Twitter and Facebook to reach its audience. There are several benefits to the customer when using these services, according to Patricia Goodwin, 42nd Force Support Squadron marking supervisor.

"The benefit is convenience to the customer. We want to notify the people who have base access of upcoming events and reminders as the events get close," she said. "If there is a storm and we have to cancel or move an event, we can communicate it immediately. They sign up to our sites. We don't update them unless they want our information." Max_Bst_Hometown on Twitter · Maxwell Gunter-FSS on Facebook


Websites like and Tweet Deck are resources for managing multiple social media accounts. You can see and update all of your social media accounts in one place. Hoot Suite also allows users to preschedule tweets and posts to ensure new content is populating to your page or feed even when the site isn't being actively monitored.

Resources like Social Mention, and Google Analytics measure the success and perception of social media sites. They are also tools for determining the types of content users like and what they would like to see more of on pages and feeds.


Post or tweet often. People want to follow well-maintained accounts. If the site appears inactive, people will be less likely to follow it. Social media is based on networking and creating dialogue, so develop an account that fosters information exchange, comments and discussions.

Respond to comments in a timely manner. Again, social media is all about creating a dialogue with your followers, so responding to comments is important. People will be much more likely to interact on the page or feed again if they know their input matters.

Ask followers for feedback on posted content. What do they like and want to see more of? What would they like to see in the future?

This is the easiest, most accurate and most effective way of reaching an audience. Hashtags are a great way to start conversations on Twitter, and poll questions are a great feedback resource on Facebook.

Courtesy of Air University Public Affairs

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