Every Guardian is a Spokesperson for the Coast Guard

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According to Chapter One Section B.4 of the Coast Guard Public Affairs Manual, “In the Coast Guard, participation in the public affairs program is a ‘condition of employment.’ Each member of the Coast Guard is authorized and encouraged to publicly discuss non-restricted aspects of his or her area of responsibility.” The section goes on to say that, “If you do it or are responsible for it, you can talk about it.”

The Coast Guard’s social media guidance reiterates this sentiment.

Commandant speaks on social media at Potomac Forum
Commandant speaks on social media at Potomac Forum

In fact, the Commandant, Admiral Thad Allen, was the keynote speaker yesterday at the Potomac Forum’s Gov 2.0 Best Practices Symposium. He has been a leader in social media engagement and has set the stage for the Coast Guard as it moves forward and immerses itself in Web-based communications. He understands that it is the way of the future. He said it is the “information sociological equivalent to climate change.” He added, “We cannot NOT engage.” He also understands it isn’t going to come naturally to everyone and there will be lessons learned along the way. “There is always going to be some risk,” he said.

For more on the Commandant’s speech, head over to the DoD Live blog. You can watch a clip of the presentation at the Pentagon Channel (go to Pentagon Channel Reports and find “Military Social Media”).

U.S. Armed Services Active Duty members
U.S. Armed Services Active Duty members

On a related topic, as I was preparing this post I started to think about the Coast Guard’s social media presence in relation to other armed services. This really got the wheels churning and I started to think about our service’s size in relation to the other services. I found some interesting comparisons that may or may not enlighten the conversation.

To use a level playing field, I pulled the number of active duty members for the five U.S. armed services from Wikipedia. I then went to find the official service accounts for the five branches on Facebook and Twitter (the two social media sites with publicly available information) and pulled numbers on fans and followers (I make no promises that these links are the official sites… with all the “fake” sites out there, it is easy to be fooled).

Here is what I came up with for numbers (as of August 26, 2009):

    Twitter Followers:

  • U.S. Army (@USArmy) – 13,939
  • U.S. Coast Guard (@uscoastguard) – 4,275
  • U.S. Navy – unable to find the official site
  • U.S. Air Force (@AFPAA) – 6,202
  • U.S. Marine Corps (@USMC) – 2,586

These numbers alone are pretty interesting, but then I decided to compare them with the number of active duty service members.  Apples to apples, the Coast Guard isn’t doing too bad (see charts below). Although our numbers are smaller than some of the other services, we look pretty equivalent in comparison to size of service. Not to mention that we have many other official social media sites with Guardians blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, YouTubing, and Flickring away about the Coast Guard.

Ratio of Facebook Fans in Relation to Service Size
Ratio of Facebook Fans in Relation to Service Size
Ratio of Twitter Followers in Relation to Service Size
Ratio of Twitter Followers in Relation to Service Size

2 comments on “Every Guardian is a Spokesperson for the Coast Guard”

  1. Shouldn’t your chart labels be “U.S. Marine Corps” — as in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, IX Corps, Military Police Corps — rather than “corp,” an abbreviation for “corporation,” which the Marine Corps obviously isn’t.

    Jon Yim
    JO1, USN (ret.)
    San Diego

  2. Yes, Jon, they should be. Nice catch. Guess computers don’t catch everything and humans will always miss something. Thanks for setting me straight.

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