Reserve recruiter uses Total Force idea sharing to get big results on social media

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chance Babin
  • Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs

CLEVELAND, Ohio – They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. An Air Force Reserve recruiter who heard an Air National Guard recruiter discussing how he trained himself in social media and made it a priority during the pandemic on a video teleconference, decided he could do the same.

Master Sgt. Shane Simplot, a Reserve line recruiter with the 350th Recruiting Squadron, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, whose office is in Cleveland, was looking for a new way to reach potential leads since in-person visits have been limited during the pandemic. He was also looking to up his social media game since he had recently been tabbed to be his flight’s social media NCO.

While perusing Facebook, he saw an announcement for an Air Force recruiting meeting on Zoom and decided to jump on and give a listen.

During the meeting, he heard Master Sgt. Reza Whitehead talk about how he reinvented himself during the COVID-19 lockdown. Whitehead, a Georgia ANG recruiter based in Savannah, taught himself about social media and then set a modern-day Georgia record with 14 accessions in one month using social media.

“He (Whitehead) provided a lot of information about the things he was doing and how successful he had been with social media,” Simplot said. “I decided to give it a shot and eased in with Instagram, then started moving on with YouTube and eventually TikTok to get the word out about the Reserve. COVID played a huge part in my decision because many of the schools in my area were not allowing recruiters in. It just got the gears turning on ideas.”

Whitehead has been helping other Georgia ANG recruiters get started with social media, and said he was glad to help Simplot as well.

“We all have a common goal, which is to succeed in recruiting,” Whitehead said. “Collaborating allows everyone to flow with ideas. Plus, I just love helping others succeed.”

After getting inspiration from Whitehead, Simplot stepped up his social media game and found out he was a natural at it. And, he has the numbers to prove it.

“As of today, I’m sitting around 2 million views across all of my platforms and more than 120,000 likes for the various things I’ve posted,” he said. "Surprisingly, TikTok has been my biggest performer, followed by YouTube, which I primarily use to upload information videos and push out to my school counselors.”

Simplot gives out valuable information in his posts, but he has learned to grab the attention of the younger generation, you have to make it fun.

“I try to be humorous, while also being informative,” he said. “I do take time to answer questions I receive seriously, but I found you can really grab hold of someone’s attention if they can laugh at it, especially if you are able to laugh at yourself.

Although Simplot recruits in the northern Ohio area, his social media posts are going out to the world. As a Total Force recruiter, he does pass along information to the appropriate recruiter for those seeing information.

“Some are leads, most are just looking for more information,” he said. “I have had three people, ranging from California to Florida, ask me how to get in touch with a Reserve recruiter near them and I have provided them with that information.”

Simplot said doing TikTok videos is fun, but he’s always careful to get the word out about opportunities to serve in the Air Force.

“I use YouTube for more of the serious side,” he said. “It’s where school counselors can go and get accurate Reserve information for their students. The counselors love it because it gives them something to show their student right then and there. Instagram leans more towards information/humorous, but TikTok is full-on humorous with informative mixed in. The TikTok page and Instagram are linked, which allows people to see my contact information and even send me messages with questions.”

Simplot recommended recruiters using social media to work with their local public affairs office.

“Every recruiter should have their PA on speed dial,” he said. “They helped with setting up my social media, giving me the good and bad and what I can and can’t do. They help with getting videos for my content and have been a huge asset in all of this.”

In addition to working social media, Simplot and Staff Sgt. Patrick Trently, of the 311th RCS, have started a huge push with esports and Twitch streaming. The Air Force Reserve is now advertising with esports Ohio and more than 30 high school teams.

“One of my active-duty counterparts started to stream in Twitch as one of his marketing methods,” Simplot said. “He was getting some interest and it has definitely grown in the last few months, but with everything going on with esports, it’s started to explode.”

Inspired by what Trentley was doing, Simplot found a local esports organization to get involved with.

“I got in touch with an organization in my area that works with high schools across Ohio and they have put together teams that compete, culminating in a tournament at the end of the school year at the University of Akron,” Simplot said. “We now advertise on their streams and we are also going to be broadcasters on one of their live streams.”

Simplot said his leadership has been very supportive of it and several of his co-workers have started getting involved with their own pages.

“We are all very impressed with Master Sgt. Simplot and what he brings to recruiting. I’m extremely fortunate to have him on our team,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Flynn, Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station flight chief, who is also the flight chief for Youngstown ARS. “He’s always positive, brings great ideas, he’s well known and well respected among his peers as well as the 910th Airlift Wing personnel at Youngstown. He’s a new master sergeant, but is confident and wears the stripe well. I’m extremely proud of him and look forward to watching him grow.”

Recently, Simplot and Whitehead talked on the phone to discuss social media and share ideas on how to help spread the word on opportunities to serve in the Air Force.

“We talked about how we have each utilized our social media in different ways,” Simplot said. “Master Sgt. Whitehead has been very active with various social media accounts and let me know how he is utilizing LinkedIn. Many high school career counselors are having students create business profiles on that platform, which can be very useful for recruiters. It was great talking to him and sharing ideas.”