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Facebook and Fort Bragg: Two Powerful Forces Unleashed?

This Thursday, Fort Bragg is trying something new: live interaction with citizens via Facebook. Here’s an excerpt from an article in the Fayetteville Observer:

Fort Bragg leaders will answer questions live Thursday on Facebook, the popular social-networking site that until 2009 was blocked on many military computer networks.

“We’re hoping specifically to have interaction with the Fort Bragg community, particularly those folks who can’t get out to our other types of town halls, like stay-at-home parents or folks in the office” said Fort Bragg spokesman Ben Abel. “It’s a different way to reach out and communicate the way they’re communicating.”

I don’t know of other military installations using Facebook as a medium to have a real-time conversation (not just communicating via the Comment Wall) with citizens in their communities, do you? So this initiative appears to be a great (ground-breaking?) first step that could lead to some valuable engagement.

Of course, as I did with HUD’s new blog (“The HUDdle”), I want to offer 3 quick tips for improving Fort Bragg’s Facebook page:

1 – Steal From the Army:
Okay, so that kind of advice might otherwise get someone court marshaled and dishonorably discharged. In this case, it could considerably increase Fort Bragg’s levels of participation and popularity. They should copy the code from the official US Army Facebook page and place it on their own. Check out the Army’s custom pages to the right – impressive…and completely theft-worthy:

2 – Post the Event on Your Facebook Page: When I clicked on the “Events” link on the page, the live event wasn’t there! Instead, it’s posted under “Discussions.” Maybe they understand their user behavior and there’s a reason for this, but it didn’t seem completely intuitive. This is a super easy win…and, I suspect it could increase their number of participants.

3 – Create an Incentive for Participation. Is there a way for Fort Bragg to offer some kind of (virtual?) prize for participants? How can they encourage Fayetteville, NC, residents to tell their family and friends about the online event? That could be something as simple featuring the citizen who brought the most people by having attendees state their referral source. People want to feel famous…especially in front of their peers.

BONUS: Tackle specific topics. By keeping it general, people don’t know exactly why they are attending. By being vague, it also makes it more likely that the conversation could devolve into people complaining about topics in which they’ve berated the base for years. Create a series of events that happens every month on the same day (“Third Thursdays with Bragg”) and address key topics. That way, the post can also enforce a comment policy that keep the engagement focused and valuable for everyone involved.

Do you have a military installation near you trying something like this?

What’s worked (or not)?

What would you recommend?

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Courtney Shelton Hunt

Hi Andrew. Any updates on how the live interaction worked? I’d love to see an update and some additional analysis. Thanks!