New guide helps Airmen, families navigate social media

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Karen Tomasik
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency
Airmen and families have a new resource at their fingertips with the recent release of an updated and revised social media guide by the Air Force Public Affairs Agency in San Antonio, Texas.

The guide features sections geared toward all Total Force members and their families as well as Air Force leaders. It highlights topics including using social media effectively, security awareness, social media platforms, public affairs programs and social media policy among others.

"Our social media team has made great strides in updating this guide," said Larry Clavette, Air Force Public Affairs Agency director. "Airmen and families will see a lot of information they can apply to their social networking practices, whether they've been using social media for years or are just coming onboard with the technology."

While information on social media has been around for several years, the types of platforms people use evolve and new ones start up nearly every day. No matter which social media platform you use, and whether you use social media personally or professionally, many basic principles apply.

Operations security ranks first and foremost in the minds of many military members, but the casual nature of social media can easily lead to inadvertent sharing of sensitive personal information via personal profiles and accounts. Everyone should make sure they share personal information only with people they trust and understand that no matter how secure they set up their own accounts friends can unintentionally share details about their lives with people who may have malicious intentions.

Though the desire to protect personal information is one reason people may not join social media platforms, unfamiliarity with the platforms is another commonly cited reason for staying out of the social media arena.

"By now, many people are already using social media so this guide doesn't focus on how to set up new personal accounts," said Capt. Amber Millerchip, the deputy director of public communications at AFPAA. "Instead, we focused on how to communicate more effectively on some of the most commonly used social media platforms. We hope everyone finds something in the guide they can use in their personal or professional communications on these platforms."

For most Airmen and family members, the first half of the guide, along with the social media policy references, frequently asked questions and glossary at the end, cover the basics they need to successfully navigate social networks. Unit leaders and public affairs Airmen will benefit from all those sections plus the sections addressing social media and a public affairs program and social media and AFPAA.

"Social media is another tool in a public affairs toolkit," said Tanya Schusler, the chief of social media at AFPAA. "The new guide will help any Air Force public affairs office start or improve their social media program. The two most important things to remember are to have a communication plan and to engage with followers. Social media is supposed to be fun but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be a deliberate process."

As units share their Airmen's stories locally, they might also consider sending stories, photographs and videos with wider Air Force appeal to AFPAA so they can be featured on the main official United States Air Force social media properties. The section in the guide discussing social media and AFPAA outlines how to submit those products and also touches on a growing area in Air Force emerging technology use - the development of mobile applications.

"We understand how mobile applications can help Airmen and families in the Air Force, and we encourage folks to leverage technology in accomplishing their jobs more efficiently," said Clavette.

"What we ask everyone to do is be smart about developing applications for official use. There are many things to consider from impact on mission completion and potential risks to a variety of costs in development and maintenance of an app. AFPAA is the focal point for mobile applications development, so we need folks to contact us for guidance before jumping into this area."

Airmen can download a copy of the guide from the social media tab at, the official website of the U.S. Air Force or by selecting the link. Questions and comments about the guide can be directed to the AFPAA Social Media Division via the contact information on the guide's back cover.

Original content found here.