The Lectern: More on Facebook and feds

The Federal Times ran an interesting story recently on the use of Facebook by Thad Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard. Allen has set up a Facebook page where he presents chronicles of some of his activities, particularly visits to the field, and lots of pictures, including pictures involving accomplishments and achievements by Coast Guard people.


As of this morning, Allen had 628 Facebook friends -- probably a record for a fed -- most of whom seem to be Coast Guard personnel, I suspect mostly younger Coast Guard folks. (I know because I have become Facebook friends with Allen myself, having learned about his Facebook status from my colleague Zach Tumin of the Kennedy School's strategic computing program, who has worked with Allen in the past and was very impressed to note his use of Facebook.)


If you look at Allen's recent wall postings, it appears as if his Facebook investment has helped create a bond with Coast Guard personnel. This morning, "Jenn B" posted this comment:


"Sir, your presence on Facebook has been a big discussion topic these past few days. Folks are really responding."


An earlier post stated: "Fantastic. You continue to walk the talk."


My impression is that there has been a breakthrough in Facebook participation by feds over the last few months. I'm guessing that something like one-quarter of my own Facebook friends are now feds. (It's been an honor in a few cases to become somebody's first Facebook friend.) But I think Commandant Allen certainly leads the way in using Facebook as a tool to promote bonds and ties within his organization.


P.S. On a different topic: One of the other faculty members teaching in the Taiwan executive education class I chair recently used real-time polling technology in his teaching, and, to get the students familiar with how to use the technology, asked them to say how they would vote in the U.S. presidential election if they could. It was interesting for me to see that these Taiwanese civil servants -- and Taiwan is a very pro-American country -- "voted" for Obama 79 percent to 21 percent.

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