Social media spurs town hall participation

| May 27, 2011 | 0 Comments

Jack Wiers
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs



SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Fueled by social media, the latest edition of the televised garrison town hall produced a fast-paced, 75-minute broadcast of information to Soldiers and their families from the Visual Information studio, here, May 18.

The first half of the town hall broadcast featured six “Army Ready”-themed briefings that ranged from hurricane season readiness to details about the new Warrior Ohana Medical Home in Kalaeloa.

Col. Douglas Mulbury, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, hosted the live broadcast, which was also shown live, via streaming video, on both the garrison’s webpage and through the garrison’s Facebook page.

“We’re learning that we have some powerful new communication tools to reach our Soldiers and family members,” Mulbury said. “We are just beginning to tap the new media’s potential.”

The broadcast also featured a half-hour question-and-answer segment, with questions gathered from both the garrison’s Ask the Commander email address and its Facebook page.

Subject matter experts addressed nearly 20 questions, ranging from requests for more crossing guards near installation schools, to housing assignment priorities, to requests for greater military police support to stop illegal cell phone usage while driving on the installation.

“More people are taking advantage of the opportunity to submit questions in advance of the live broadcast,” said Stephanie Rush, digital media specialist, USAG-HI Public Affairs.

Community members received information on how to submit questions in advance through a number of promotional vehicles, including email blasts, postings on websites and electronic marquee displays.

One downside to the new reliance on social media was the reluctance of members of the garrison community to call in questions, live, on the telephone, said SMEs. Those numbers have diminished significantly, to a mere trickle, they said. Participants are choosing the Internet and social media as their preferred communication sources.

“We’re recognizing that people, in general, are becoming more reliant and comfortable with social media,” Mulbury said. “This is where our attention needs to be in the future.”

All questions submitted, regardless of whether they made the broadcast or not, will be answered, Mulbury added.

The TV town hall will be rebroadcast on installation channel TV2 for the remainder of May, and will continue to be rebroadcast throughout June, at noon and 7 p.m.

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