The TSA’s social team is free to post without approvals. Here’s why

Emily Bonilla-Pieton explains how her team cultivated the trust to make the TSA’s accounts fun.

Power Conversation with Emily Bonilla-Pieton

The Transportation Security Administration isn’t exactly known for its sense of humor — when you interact with them in airports, that is. But it’s a whole different vibe, as the kids say, on its social media accounts, where the TSA cuts loose with relatable travel memes, humorous tips, a bit of snark and adorable photos and videos of bomb-sniffing dogs and their shenanigans.

Emily Bonilla-Pieton, lead social media strategist for the TSA within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, joined Ragan and PR Daily’s Director of Event Programming Alyssa Smith for a Power Conversation at the 2024 Social Media Conference at Disney World. They talked about the creativity, strategy, trust and communication that goes into showing the lighter side of an organization known best for enforcing stringent regulations.

The TSA’s social media accounts are managed by two separate teams: a customer care team that runs its “Ask TSA” accounts and a strategy team, which embraces “content creation and edumacation” as Bonilla-Pieton put it.



She and her team have built such a profound level of trust with leadership that there are no approvals required for her to post a meme or joke to social media.

“In our role it is extremely important to not be too humble, to admit that you are the subject matter expert,” Bonilla-Pieton said. “We are engaged and connected with the public, day in, day out, after hours, on the weekends, you name it. We are connected to what the audience is saying, how they are reacting to our posts. … We are the voice for the public.”

Such freedom requires trust from leadership who values both the knowledge of social media managers and the importance of meeting customer needs and expectations for a social media account. After all, many will follow for information, but others follow for edutainment, and no one knows better what followers want than the person immersed in the platform and interacting with them every day.

That trust does require a mutual commitment, however. “We are mindful of the audience, but we also respect the agency’s rules and policies and regulations,” she said. “It’s a perfect marriage of meeting the audience where they’re at, but being on top of what we’re trying to push out for the agency.”

Watch below to learn more about this team’s social strategy, how they stay on top of trends and more.”



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