The Good, the bad and the digital: Why you should follow your unit's social media sites and how to represent the Corps online

31 Dec 2011 | Cpl. Austin Hazard

Social media is no new phenomenon, but the trend is fairly new to Marine Barracks Washington. While there are a few stipulations related to interacting with unit social media sites, you shouldn’t be deterred from supporting your unit or keeping up with the Barracks.

In November, the oldest post of the Corps set up official unit Facebook, YouTube and Flickr accounts, relating events from around the Barracks on a regular basis.The Barracks uses these sites to relay current unit news and events, as well as links to other relevant news or pop culture events, like Justin Timberlake’s blog about his Marine Corps birthday ball experience.

However, these tools don’t simply work one way; followers can provide their input and help improve any of the sites or inform us of what kind of stories or content they want to see. In this way, you can influence the information we provide or how we deliver it. Suggestions are always welcome.

Families and friends may also appreciate your unit’s social media prospects and enjoy seeing a better picture of what you do and what your duty station is all about. The Marine Corps can be a difficult thing to explain to loved ones, and the Barracks is specialized even further from the rest of the Marine Corps. Following a unit’s social media outlets can be a useful asset to help them understand your day-to-day. With a little luck, they may even see a photo, story or video that includes you on one of our sites.

While it is recommended every Marine here at least browse the pages, and preferably follow them, Marines should have a basic understanding of the Corps’ social media policies. All of these guidelines are detailed in the "mission" section of our Facebook page and "about" section of our YouTube page. They are pretty simple and straight forward and match the rules of etiquette for most websites, easily summarized as common propriety. Essentially, avoid posting anything offensive or inappropriate, including foul language and hurtful or explicit statements.

Regardless of whether you follow the Barracks’ page, Marines should be just as mindful of their own Facebook accounts and the things they post on them. Saying something derogatory on your page about a superior or the command in general can land someone in hot water. It is your page, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be held responsible for what you say on it. Even employers in the civilian sector will sometimes research applicants through Facebook and subsequently reject them based on the individual’s page, so don’t think the Marine Corps can’t operate in a similar fashion. Marines should always strive to be the consummate professional, on and off duty, on and offline.

There’s a lot of merit to what these sites offer, and as long as you mind what you say as you would in public, there should be nothing to worry about. It doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or be yourself, just remember you always represent the Corps.

Despite your actual level of involvement, I think every Marine and sailor should follow his unit’s social media pages to give him an idea of what is going on with his unit outside of what’s passed at formations. Plus, the Barracks is a small unit, and you never know when you might see your picture in one of our photo galleries or your face in a YouTube video.