Garrison explores new communication tools
August 13, 2009
- Garrison fosters community engagement
<strong>YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea</strong> -- The Yongsan community is leveraging social media networks to share information in new ways. The U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan Facebook page and Twitter service are finding new followers and fans every day.
"Since we started in April, we have gathered a community of more than 450 Facebook fans," said USAG-Yongsan Commander Col. Dave Hall. "It's exciting to see current and future community members posting questions, links and comments. It's a great way to get questions asked and answered in a public forum where many of you are already engaged."
In May, Army leaders encouraged public affairs operators to communicate with their communities on social media networks. The Army established an Online and Social Media Division from the ground up. "The first step was to establish a presence," said Army Chief of Staff for Public Affairs Maj. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner. "Our next step is to continue to create compelling content."
Yongsan community members embraced the concept by posting policy questions, events and digital photos to the official Facebook site.
"We have a team approach to monitoring the site," Hall said. "My public affairs staff, along with representatives from Army Community Services and our Housing Office check in regularly to see what questions need answering. I even go in to drop comments or answer questions."
The public affairs team uses the venue to post community photos, event publicity and links to news releases. "The important thing to remember is that this is a new way to communicate and it involves interaction with our customers," said Casey Ross, Plans, Analysis and Integration chief. "This is all part of the Army Communities of Excellence concept where we are striving to constantly improve our processes to better serve our customers."
Ross said the innovative strategies also enhance the garrison's role in fulfilling the Army Family Covenant. "This is all about customer engagement and our commitment to building a partnership with Army Families that enhances their strength and resilience."
The USAG-Yongsan Twitter service is a short messaging format for putting out limited information with links to additional information. People can visit the garrison <a href="http://www.twitter.com/usagyongsan"> Twitter page</a> to "follow" the updates.
Community members can find the garrison Facebook page by going to the service and searching for USAG-Yongsan. The "Become a Fan" is a link at the top of the page. "Becoming a fan is a lot different than becoming a friend," explained Garrison Webmaster Steve Morgan. "When you are friends with someone on Facebook, you share all of your personal information. Being a fan means you agree to receive updates from the organization, but you do not share personal information."
Morgan said the garrison approach to Facebook and Twitter is to create an ongoing "conversation" with followers and fans. "Many times, community members answer questions among themselves, he said. "It makes for a fast-moving conversation where everybody may participate.
As concerns over security abound with social media on government computers systems, the Defense Department is seeking input. "The Department of Defense is in the middle of a policy review on how to manage Internet-based capabilities like social networking and social media," according to a post on the <a href="http://armylive.dodlive.mil/index.php/2009/08/dod-seeks-input-on-internet-policy/"> official Army blog</a>. "These applications have a huge positive impact on certain missions like public affairs, recruitment, internal communication, and maintaining quality of life for our servicemembers and their families. At the same time, providing access to these sites from official DoD networks opens those networks to security threats.
The garrison commander reiterated his commitment to keeping community members informed. "The bottom line is that we care about you the community member," Hall said.
Hall said regardless of whether of not Facebook or Twitter stay on official computers, the garrison will continue to communicate in all available venues. "The information world is rapidly changing, and we're committed to staying one step ahead," he said.
<i>Follow USAG-Yongsan on <a href="http://twitter.com/USAGYongsan">Twitter</a>, <a href="http://flickr.com/usag-yongsan/">Flickr</a> and become a fan on <a href="http://www.new.facebook.com/pages/USAG-Yongsan/32158407071">Facebook!</a> Learn more about serving in Korea at the <a href="http://yongsan.korea.army.mil/">USAG-Yongsan Web site</a>.</i>