By Bryan Gatchell, Fort Polk Guardian staff writerJuly 27, 2009
FORT POLK, La. -- The Fort Polk Public Affairs Office has joined two of the larger phenomena of the Internet: Facebook and Twitter.
Both are social networking tools used by people and corporations to update their statuses and disseminate information. While Facebook contains a multitude of applications and means of communicating on its web site, Twitter thrives on terseness, delivering a succinct message in 140 characters or less.
Wayne Marlow, a public affairs specialist and the person in charge of Fort Polk's Twitter account, admits the difficulty of paring down his message to fit Twitter's character limit. "I've been working around words for a while so I'm prepared for it, but it can still be a challenge."
Marlow outlined the immediate advantages of Twitter. "What Twitter offers the Fort Polk community and the outlying areas is (immediate information). If there's a flood, (for example), what you want to know is how to get to post (or) how it's going to affect (physical training)," said Marlow.
Through Twitter, the Fort Polk PAO can also reach a wider audience, thanks in part to Forces Command's involvement.
"FORSCOM is one of our followers and we send them stuff," said Marlow. "They send (information) out to other media outlets that we may not send to. Our stories are initially for us here but when it goes out, who knows where it's going to spread."
With a small exception, the 140-character line of text is the limit to the possibilities of Twitter. "You can't actually put a photo on Twitter, strictly speaking," said Marlow, "but you can use Twitpic, which is a separate service. You click on it and it takes you to a photo, so you can do a little more with that."
Twitter's charm is in its brevity, and though Twitter can provide links to other pages and applications it cannot match Facebook in number of uses. Facebook users can share not only messages, but pictures, videos and other media.
Tresa Lawson, community relations officer for Fort Polk, runs the PAO's Facebook account. "I can put anything on there that I've seen that is going to be of major interest to the installation," Lawson said. "Any information you can put out in the Guardian, except for full articles, we can put on Facebook."
The site, begun only two weeks ago, currently has photos from last week's issue of the Guardian as well as one of its articles. On the "Info" section of Fort Polk's Facebook account is a detailed history of the post. Even with these extras, Fort Polk's Facebook account has much the same mission as its Twitter counterpart.
"A lot of people are on the Internet for news. This is just another way we can get command and installation information out to the public," said Lawson. "I put most of the information out that comes from the Guardian, same as Wayne (Marlow). If he sends something out on Twitter, I follow him on it and can actually put that on (Facebook). It's just another avenue of getting information out."
To find Fort Polk's Facebook page, log into Facebook and type "Fort Polk PAO" into Facebook's search bar. Fort Polk's Twitter account can be found at twitter.com/fortpolkpao. To inform Marlow of anything relevant to Fort Polk that people need to know through Twitter, contact him at (337)531-1418 or e-mail him at email@example.com.