Photos of guns are scary. And other social media news.

Posted on November 8, 2013

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Did you know that the TSA has an Instagram profile, Twitter account and blog? Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that an organization with billions of customers would take to social to educate travelers about what they can and can’t take on airplanes. And of course, the TSA also spends a lot of time promoting its TSA PreCheck service. But that would all be boring, right? Without photos of guns.

In a fairly engaging tactic, the TSA has taken to sharing pics of confiscated weapons on its social media channels. A quick look at Instagram will confirm your fears that people are still pretty sure they can get through airport security with guns and knives! All I can think after seeing this is, if this is what we catch, how many scary things make it through the check points?

As you can see in the Instagram comments, the photos don’t always have the desired effect. Comments range from rants that the TSA is spending too much money manning Instagram, to kids laughing at the “old school thug” who tried to carry on the blunt instrument above. So how should the TSA measure the success of this program? Is engagement a good metric? Can they measure offline impact? For example, do they see an increase in TSA PreCheck enrollments and decrease in people trying to sneak weapons through the gate?

Regardless of their early consumer success, it’s important for the TSA and other federal agencies to have a well established social presence – and more importantly, a plan for when things go awry. During the recent shooting at LAX, travelers, law enforcement, media outlets and the general public could follow along with news from the @LAX_Official Twitter handle. People could determine if they should make their way to the airport or steer clear to avoid potential danger.

Sure, not everyone is on social media today, but the more we can condition people to follow along, the more quickly we’ll be able to disseminate this important information in the future.

p.s. I do not like photos of guns.

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Posted in: Social media