|CENTCOM climbs aboard social media train|
By Sgt. Rick Nelson, U.S. Central Command
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (July 1, 2009) — As social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube storm the world, United States Central Command has begun their Twittering and Facebooking in order to better reach the people around the world and get the word out about operations and what's happening in the area of operations. For some people these social sites are used for keeping in touch with close friends from the past or family members, but members of U.S. Central Command's Digital Engagement Team work on these sites so everyone can see just how the command works and gets the job done. "CENTCOM started its social media outreach by setting up its own channel on YouTube and an account with Flickr for still images," said Lt. Cmdr. Bill H. Speaks, who is currently the chief of the D.E.T., U.S. Central Command. "We then started our own Facebook page and are also on Twitter." Speaks expressed his desire to soon expand the Facebook presence to the predominant languages of our area of responsibility, particularly Arabic and Farsi. "These are forums where we will have to be to communicate with the American public," Speaks added. "The internet is increasingly becoming a primary source of news and information in the U.S., and within online communication, there is a shift to what is being called 'Web 2.0.'" As a second generation of web development and design, Web 2.0 is characterized as a source of web communication, sharing and interoperability on the World Wide Web, explained Brent Walker, web editor for the D.E.T. "Using these social media sites allows us to communicate more directly with those interested in what we're doing," Speaks said. "They can be updated through a feed on their own personal pages, rather than check our web site periodically for updates. There is also more direct feedback." These social media sites are not for one-sided broadcasting of information, but for sharing it, said Speaks. "We get feedback and questions from our followers, and with Twitter in particular, we can follow others and respond to their own questions and comments," added Speaks. As these social sites are updated continuously by the personnel assigned the D.E.T., the numbers of friends and members will continue to grow spreading the U.S. Central Command news worldwide.
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