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Facebook Tabs and Apps Used by the US Military – Facebook Use Study (2 of 3)

Blog series originally posted at DK Web Consulting.


In today’s blog we will look at three main things about the US Military’s use of Facebook; (1) which Facebook tabs are popular, (2) how many tabs do military pages use, and (3) do these pages use tabs such as Hootsuite to assist in publishing. For those of you who missed it, please make sure to check out Part 1 which discussed the statistics and trends of US Military pages or our three part series on Facebook use by the US Health and Human Services.

Facebook tabs — Which are the Most Popular among the Military?

Though content varies greatly across pages, video tabs are the most commonly used. Some pages display elaborate video content, such is the case with the Coast Guard’s official Facebook page, which links their video tab to the branch’s YouTube channel.

The Air Force hosts a series of short video clips on Facebook, with content ranging from officer interviews in the vein of official press statements, clips of basic training and rescue missions. The Department of Justice posts videos of media clips and has an “About Us” section of sorts with videos explaining the different roles and positions within the department. For larger bodies of government like these, videos help give a face to an otherwise ambiguous institution. The Air Force is presumably utilizing their video channel as a public relations outlet while other pages, such as the United States Marine Corps page, use their video channels to reinforce their message and values as an institution.

Another commonly used tab, though not prevalent throughout all, is that used for recruitment. The National Guardallows fans to apply online via a special tab while the official United States Marine Corps page (managed by recruiting command) prompts fans to enter information about themselves in order to contact a recruiter.

One tab that stands out among others is the Top Fans appfound on the Marines page. This app ranks fans and provides a score and a leader board for fans who are the most active on the page—an interesting example of a page taking engagement and social status rewards to the next level. We feel this is an idea that will show up more often on other government Facebook pages in the future.

The Marines Top Fans Facebook application which ranks users by engagement.

The Marines Top Fans Facebook application which ranks users by engagement.

Tab Usage by the Military

Tabs counted were those in addition to the default Photos and Likes tabs. The average number of tabs used among all military pages is 5.4, and range from one to 10. Most pages in the study used between four and six tabs. The Veterans Benefits Administration has the least number of fans (24,230) and only uses one custom tab. The two pages with the highest tab usage were the National Guard[1] and Veterans Health Administration. Each used eight or more tabs to host a wide array of information.

News tabs were popular among the pages, as many fans presumably use Facebook to stay informed and learn about the military branch or department they follow.

The US Army, National Guard and US Coast Guard used tabs to highlight members of their respective organizations. The US Army, for example, has a tab that recognizes Senior Leaders.

The Veterans Health Administration leads in usage of custom tabs by military agencies.

The Veterans Health Administration leads in usage of custom tabs by military agencies.

Application Usage

Eight of the 14 military pages used programs such as Hootsuite or Publisherto manage their pages. Regardless of their usage of applications to post content, all but one of the military pages posted on the weekends. Pages that used an application averaged more posts per day than those that did not, 4.5 versus 3.2 per day.

The military was far more open about using applications than other government segments, as only 21% of all government used them. The most popular application tool used by military pages was Hootsuite, which was used by five of the 14 pages, while Publisher was used by three pages: the National Guard, the Marines and the US Marine Corps.

The National Guard uses the Publisher application to help manage its posts.

The National Guard uses the Publisher application to help manage its posts.

Your Thoughts

What did you think about the US Military’s Facebook use? Were you surprised that the military is so much more likely to use applications and tabs then their other government peers? Let us know in the comments below.

Want the Full Report?

Due to size restrictions, we only cover several of the highlights of the report on this three part blog series. If you would like the full complimentary report which includes all analysis in one PDF file please provide your name and email to “info(at)dkwebconsulting.com“ and you will receive it by email.


[1] A number of custom tabs have been removed since the original study, likely due to the tab resizing that occurred in February 2012. The National Guard for example had 16 tabs at one point and now has only eight.

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Chris Cairns

Great run down. I’d be interested to hear what factors or set of best practices contribute the most to achieving specific social media measures.