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Social Media @ FAA: Setting the Stage

This is part 1 in a series of posts about the FAA Social Media Program. Karen Snyder leads NDi’s Social Media practice. In this role, she supports government agencies that want to extend the reach of their corporate communication campaigns by taking advantage of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

After Obama’s OpenGovernmentDirective, FAA needed to increase its transparency, collaboration, and participation. They needed a public platform that would allow the agency to influence, educate, and engage the public concerning aviation topics. However, FAA also needed a platform that would amplify the volume and reach of their messages. They wanted to help citizens interested in aviation topics to talk not just to FAA but to each other, and the best platform for that is social media.

FAA’s social media properties currently reach, on average, 1 million members of the public each month. These people include key target audiences like aviation industry “influencers,” Congressional stakeholders, and the next generation of air traffic controllers. However, it took two years to get to that point. Before FAA could take its first steps in social media, they needed to create an initial strategy that aligned all agency-wide efforts.

FAA used these tools to develop its social media strategy:

  • External Research / Case Studies: We researched what other Government Agencies are doing, and who is “doing it right.”
  • External Monitoring: We took a high level snapshot of the volume of conversations that are currently going on about the FAA on Social Networks.
  • Stakeholder Interviews: We spoke with stakeholders across the FAA Lines of Business (LOBs). The goal was to uncover the business need for Social Media within the LOBs.

Our research pointed to these possible benefits:

  • Public Image: Creates a more open, transparent and participatory environment.
  • Situation Awareness: Offers insight into public opinion with opportunities to join conversations that are already happening.
  • Recruitment: Help us recruit the next generation of air traffic controllers and other professionals.
  • Safety and NextGen: Aviation professionals and Congressional Stakeholders are already using social media.
  • Employee Engagement: Provide the FAA workforce with information when, where and how they want it.

After developing their social media strategy, FAA needed to develop a department-wide social media policy to govern employees’ use of the platforms. FAA employees are active on Social Networks, so it is important to give them a policy and guidelines so that they are aware of what they should and shouldn’t say. They need to be aware that as FAA employees, what they have to say on Social Networks could be taken out of context.

NDI collaborated with a cross-departmental workgroup to develop the policy.

Next Time: The Importance of Listening.

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