Four years ago this month the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) began The TSA Blog which, as the website details, was to encourage an open dialog on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process.  This blog takes the efforts of nine people to run and manage it.

In April 2008 they started the TSA Blog Team Twitter account (@TSABlogTeam) to provide quick updates relating to the TSA Blog.

The dialog side of things has been pretty good as well in these four years.  According to the TSA Blog website over 47,500 blog comments have been approved and nearly 20,000 people follow the blog’s Twitter account.  According to their Delete-O-Meter over 15,000 comments have been removed for various reasons ranging from spam and process security.  They do have a very specific comment policy when it comes to the site.

Now if there has even been a government agency that gets a tremendous amount of scrutiny then the TSA is it.  With social networking easy to access on the go the slightest incident at security checkpoints across the United States gets mentioned and quickly becomes viral on sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Why such focus and attention you might ask?

Well, typically people have very strong emotions and opinions relating to the mission of the TSA.  Whether you individually agree or disagree with their tasking it still creates a lot of concern for privacy and rights when it comes to these searches/checkpoints.

As I took a look at the TSA Blog’s archives it seems like they used the site to communicate with the public about the agency and clarify policies. They also used blog posts to clear up urban legends relating to the TSA and announce upcoming changes to procedures.  It looks like blog posts have originated from comments in the blog to help clarify or refute incidents that were being discussed in the sites comments.

Another significant use of the TSA Blog was to address reported incidents that were making the news or becoming viral such as the recent cupcake incident.  Did you know that was a “Cupcake in a Jar” and not your run of the mill cupcake? I did not until I read that post today.

In October of 2011 the blog started to have regular posts, referred to as TSA Week in Review, which highlighted the contraband items which were being found in both hand carried and checked luggage.  If you take some time to read through those posts you would be shocked at the items that are found.

So I go back to the title of this post – Can A Good Social Media and Outreach Strategy Change Perceptions?

Has the efforts of the TSA to communicate with the public through their blog and Twitter account helped you have a better understanding of what they are doing and seeing in airports across the United States and how has it affected your perceptions of the agency and their work?

Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments below.