US Army Corps of Engineers
Louisville District Website

Social media training tackles changing landscape of communication

Published Sept. 2, 2011

If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest, according to the YouTube video Social Media Revolution 3 created by Erik Qualman.

With that stat in mind, the Louisville District decided it was time to take charge in the ever-changing world of social media and hosted social media training here in Louisville for the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division.

The training, which was held at the Marriott Downtown in August, featured an array of speakers who educated attendees on social media principles, techniques and the latest trends. Topics ranged from Twitter Basics 101 to security concerns.

Rough River Lake Manager Diane Stratton, whose Facebook page has more than 12,000 fans, felt the training was very helpful for all involved.

“It enabled participants and presenters to share ideas on how social media has been used, and can be used, as a tool to spread our mission message,” said Stratton. “Learning how to keep the public informed about current issues, events and policies that may affect them was very useful,” said Stratton. 

Other guest speakers included local WAVE 3 meteorologists, Kevin Harned and Brian Goode, Jack Holt, APR LLC; General Electric social media gurus Wendy Brown and Lauren Whitsell; and Erin McMahon, creative manager at Metro United Way.

“Regardless of how you personally feel about social media it is a part of our lives and it’s the avenue that our customers are using to get information about our agency and our projects,” said Stratton.

Denise Rouse, Louisville District Recreation Team Leader, seconds that sentiment. “Actively embracing social media is a must in our current environment, especially given budgetary constraints and limited staffing at our lakes and locks and dam projects,” said Rouse. “This communications tool has already demonstrated a positive new functionary role that our customer base of more than 18 million annual visitors expects.”
 
Sarah Mattingly, Louisville District Social Media Manager believes the two-day event provided a constructive learning environment and helped to change attitudes of those who had doubts about social media.

“There is still a contingent within the Corps that views social media as being out of our realm,” said Mattingly. “The fact is, if we want to adequately inform the members of our communities, we have to be engaged in social media. It’s not enough to simply put out a press release anymore and hope it gets picked up in a timely manner.”

Public Affairs Specialist Jon Fleshman said the training gave a variety of excellent examples of how social media can be used to benefit the Corps’ customers.

"I was always a believer, not because I use it regularly, but because other people use it—a lot of other people,” said Fleshman. 

The Louisville District launched its social media program in January 2009 in an effort to reach a broader audience. Today, the district’s social media sites reach more than 16,000 people directly, and thousands more indirectly.