Unit Websites

In this time of social media, BADER and especially the cadet portal. Is the Squadron website a thing of the past? I am looking to increase the units exposure to the public online and i am looking at what other units are doing. We have a public Facebook page but most of our exposure comes from articles on the community Facebook pages. Does anybody still produce articles for the local press? How to you tell the cadets about activities? We have a closed secret group for cadets and parents.
Experience on my unit and never having a website in the last few social media is where our unit is seen in the community. Is it worth having a Sqn website?Thoughts please.

We have a website and it is purely a static location that can be referred to for basic squadron information. It is something to show up in web searches or to be put into document headers and is a stable location on the Internet which is under our (my) control.

We use a public Facebook page for publicity purposes and a couple of closed Facebook groups for coordination and internal communications.


I have exactly what incubus has.

We do get a bit of interest from our website actually, probably 20% website 80% Facebook from online interest. So i elected to keep it.

If it helps, we use Weebly, really easy tool to use to make the website, although i am sure there are many other tools that do the same thing.

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As Incubus says, a Squadron website is under your control.

A website gives you a single location to post content, then share that content out to social networks. This means that you are managing a single point then sharing out, rather than managing half dozen points semi independently of each other.

When you’re looking for a new restaurant to eat at, or a new club to join, you’re going to search the internet, ok i mean google, then look at the first few results, but more importantly you’ll see the google listed organisation with photos and reviews and links to website, directions etc.

I use Sqn.ac for my sqn’s website. £10 a year all in.

My guess is that once cadet portal is fully imbeded, HQAC will encourage a move away from facebook.

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I suspect FaceBook will still have it’s place, you can post a link to events etc then there’s the comments and discussion which Cadet Portal doesn’t really lend itself to.

+1 for sqn.ac :wink:

another question is how relevant is Facebook becoming? Looking at recent social platform usage the demographic of Facebook is getting older and the younger users aren’t using it. The only reason my kids have an account is for the Sqn group(s) - that’s a lot of extra risk to use just 1 group.

Fair point, I’ve just had a recruitment intake, none of which have FaceBook.

same when my middle one joined this year.

I have a whole bunch of tools that I can give to Sqns that have more functionality than FB will ever have, it’s an education point for Staff I guess.

I suggested a website for our Sqn and was told no as it didn’t seem to work for other Sqn’s, how our OC knew that I still don’t know!
We don’t have a public Sqn Facebook page, we have a closed Parent and Cadet Facebook page tho. Our OC loves Twitter considering he’s a relic himself :rofl: staff don’t have a Facebook page anymore as that was deleted by the OC and we just use Whatsapp now. Our OC goes to do school presentations and assemblies and gets Cadets that way. Something I’ve yet to look into is: https://spark.adobe.com I have seen other Sqn’s use it but I have a feeling our OC will once again say no to this :roll_eyes:

As an independent bod, you CivCom could quite legitimately organise a website for their charity which promotes its objectives and by association the squadron.

I echo DJ Rice’s comments on age association and my own experience is broadly:

Twitter = quick shout to grab attention and look busy
Facebook = Bit more detail plus goods place for activity notifications and updates
Instagram = Younger market
Website = generally regarded as most authoritative place for an organisation

I would suggest therefore that while Facebook and Twitter give you a sense of action and life, your website contributes to credibility and good first impressions to prospective cadet parents and supporting organisations (including grant givers)…

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The problem with SM is it seems you need to have random people “following” you or part of your group who you ‘approve / accept’ or the effort accounts for nowt and people have to sign up to whichever platform or they can’t see what you put out. The other thing it seems to crave attention from people to update.
We’ve started to use local town’s FB groups to publicise things like upcoming intakes as these have a few thousand people who look at them (rather than trying to build our own “following”) and a closed FB group for the sqn. The cadets have their own ;friends’ group on whatsapp which staff leave alone.
We have a website which as mentioned by a few is static to attract attention via web searches, with basic info about the sqn, intakes etc.

Yep, local community groups on the difference platforms is a great way to get exposure. Personally I would prefer to use a squadron identity (Facebook page for Facebook, Instagram account for Instagram etc etc,) sharing links to the website to the community group as I’d rather leave my name out if it. The focus is on the sqn, not myself.

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We have a Squadron website with a public facing “Image” site. All staff, committee, cadets and parents have a login and we put announcements and other information on there. Examples are an authorise absence form, uniform orders, Sqn Calendar, uniform care videos, training programme, contact details and a car sharing map to those who have subscribed.

We also have a Facebook page and this gets us the best public awareness. New recruits sign-up via the public facing website.

We created the website due to the under 13 cadets who don’t have Facebook and most other social platforms have age restrictions. The website generates e-mail notifications to those who have subscribed and the whole thing is GDPR compliant. The back end of this is Joomla but there are many different free systems out there.

The cadet portal will do the lions share of what we have when we get it however, the website has been in place for 2 years and it will be easy to move to the portal if it does what we need. I expect we will slide over in stages as more features come to the portal.

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I built our Sqn one and it has been a resounding success… (In my opinion)
I am in the process of building the Wing’s website and one for another Sqn within the wing.

I work as an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation Specialist - I make things rank in google and occasionaly SM)

In my opinion every Sqn should have ;

Optimised Google My Business Location (Google maps listing THIS IS MASSIVE !!! I cannot stress it enough)
Public Facing Facebook
Closed Facebook ( We have 1 for Cadets and 1 for Parents and Civ Com)
Potentially Tik Tok as that’s where the kids are nowadays

Use ACP 50 as guidance for setting up and managing SM and Website and the Site needs Approval from Wing and Regional MCO.

Minimum of 2 members of staff need to be able to access all levels of social media

Social Media is not a magic solution though, you need to do outreach on it, engage with local community projects and businesses if you have influencers reach out to them, local schools that your recruit from, local military units or stations, RAFA, RBL etc…

You need to back it up with media or press releases to the local paper/s (use the same articles on your website)

None of this is easy to start or manage but if you can do it, it’s worthwhile.


True … but there is also a load of self harming and drugs risk.

Will RAFAC have enough resource to end up with RAFACEBOOK as an alternative?

No they never will, an internal forum that could make places like this not exist possibly and Sqn boards so everybody knows what’s going on in their Sqn yes, but Facebook is about outreach to the local community and promoting what RAFAC does.

As it stands it is a useful tool and nothing more, in the near future something will come along and replace FB and we will move on to promoting on that platform. This happens in all forms of marketing (yep we’re selling the cadet experience)

Radio was the best place to advertise because that’s the medium most people consumed, then the TV came along and that was the place to be… radio didn’t die completely but people consumed information differently, for local outreach local newspapers were the place to be, I don’t know anyone that reads physical newspapers anymore (there are still plenty of people out there however it’s dying off) I will go and buy a copy if we are featured in it though… In the late 90’s early 00’s google ads became a thing where you can target your “perfect customer” with targeted ads, which is an awful lot more effective than a scatter gun tv ad and that was the start of the tv downfall, with the ability to fast forward through ads on tv now unless it’s something you’re watching live then people skip through adverts making them all but useless, because how we consume the media changed. Websites during the 90’s and early 00’s were good however when we got smartphones that data became instantly consumable by anybody anywhere in the world our habits changed again. Social media came about again early 00’s but only started to take off as the smartphones came along as it was portable.

The way people consume content has changed massively over the last 100 years for better and worse, to still manage to appeal to our target audience we need to keep up with current consumption trends.

Sorry… I didn’t mean to write this much, well done if you’ve read it all


The trouble with unit websites is that you have to maintain them.
Which if you’ve got a keen and competent team is fine. But if you haven’t it’s just more work on the ever-increasing to-do list.

A website with old photos and outdated information is worse than no website at all.
The other downside with unit websites is that many of them look like absolute toss - as though they’ve been created by amateurs with no knowledge of graphics, branding, or in some cases web design.

For years my preferred option has been to direct the public to the standard corps website. Someone else maintains it, I don’t have to think about it, and they can find us through the Squadron finder.
Even a google search for “Air cadets anytown” will bring us up - as a listing in the Corps website.

We have a facebook page from where we would advertise open nights and recruit intakes. I intend to make more use of that page in the future (getting someone else to run it).

To be honest, we’re in a position where we really don’t need local publicity. We’ve at full capacity with a waiting list to join. It’s been that way consistently for some years. There’s little reason for us to push our unit.

Where there is a need though, is in Corps wide publicity - to help the neighbouring units who are struggling for cadets. Towards that end I’d far rather that our flyers and online presence helps other potential cadets to find their local unit.
That’s easily achieved by pointing them at the Corps website.

As with any project the first questions have to be “why?” and “what?”
Why does the unit need a website? What does the unit hope to achieve with their website?

I get the feeling that there are still lots of people out there who just think “We should have a website… because that’s what you do innit…”
Against my considered advice our OC tasked a number of cadets with a “create a sqn website project”. They’ve done a fair job but have basically wasted their time creating features which are made obsolete by Cadet Portal. No proper brief. No direction…

While I can agree with you with regard to outdated information, does the public (for the most part) realise when a photo is outdated?
A picture of cadets enjoying an activity in the early 2000’s will look basically the same as one now.

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That depends on how it’s presented of course. A generic photo - no, they’ve not a clue.
But captions or content in the photo which dates it is not uncommon.
“Cadets completing their Bronze DofE - Dec 2004”