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Best Practices: U.S. Coast Guard Uses YouTube to Recruit New Guardians

When I first started exploring social media recruiting, I kept asking myself one question. How do you successfully use YouTube (or any video sharing site) to recruit? Well, I think I have found my answer.

I recently ran across the Coast Guard’s YouTube recruitment channel. The channel made its debut in March of 2009 and has already garnered almost 164,000 video views. It boasts a catalog of some 50 videos made up of recruit interviews, reposts of TV commercials, and day-in-the-life narratives. What I find interesting is that no video has less than 1,000 views. Those are pretty strong numbers for a channel that has been live now just almost one year.

Looking through the list of available vignettes, I noticed one interesting thing. One particular video had 23,000+ views, which is 7,000 more views than the next closest most popular video. The #1 video is called Coast Guard Rating Video AST. An AST is a Coast Guard enlisted position made famous by the movie Guardian in which actor Ashton Kutcher plays the role of a newbie rescue swimmer, or Aviation Survival Mate. Interest in this job rating must have soared when the movie was released as is evidenced by its popularity on the YouTube channel. The number two and three most popular videos were similar rating videos about the Boatswain’s Mate and Gunner’s Mate respectively.

So, what are the best practices here?

  1. The Coast Guard uses YouTube to not only store their TV commercials online. Many YouTube “recruiting” channels seem to just be a place where an organization can store it commercials so users can share them on Facebook etc. The Coast Guard does a really good job of sharing videos that show recruits what to expect in the career fields they may choose. They also use the channel to showcase a handful of new recruits as they make their way through Coast Guard boot camp. Kudos to USCG for not making it look easy and rosy. One of the first things you hear from recruit Annie Nguyen is that the first week was one of the toughest weeks of her life. There is no beating around the bush on this series of videos. This is not only a positive aspect for a recruiting video, but also a strong tool to use as an onboarding tool. Now new recruits can see what they are getting into. They will also understand that they will live through this tough process and there is light at the end of the eight week tunnel.
  2. The career field videos give recruits a look at their future employment opportunities in the civilian world. When you are dealing with armed forces type recruitment, I find it powerful when the recruiting message gives candidates a look at what their life will look like after their service is over. Everyone know that you can be an airline pilot after you leave the Air Force, but what does the future hold for a Boatswain’s Mate? Well, the skills learned as a Boatswain’s Mate are readily transferable to fields as varied as law enforcement, heavy equipment operator to tugboat captain. I know that now thanks to the video about becoming a Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate.
  3. Lastly, the Coast Guard YouTube channel is a two-way street of communication. Although there are only 5 comments on the page, you can see that there is an actual person, familiar with the recruiting process, that is monitoring and managing the channel. One user, fiend1111, writes to say, “I’m very interested in joining the Coast Guard. But, I have a G.E.D. Would that stop me from joining?” Acceptance to the Coast Guard is very selective and this possible Guardian wonders if he has the right credentials to even take the first step. Without this open communication channel, fiend1111 may have never found out that, “The Coast Guard does accept people with G.E.D’s on a case by case basis. I’d call your local recruiter to find out more: 877.NOW.USCG.” The recruiter monitoring the site was able to quickly reach out to this job seeker and encourage him to take the next step. When you look at the videos outside of the actual channel (on YouTube search), you’ll see that the channel moderator has answered many similar questions.

YouTube proves to be a powerful Web 2.0 recruiting tool in the case of the USCG Recruiting channel. I give the USCG high marks for showing real-life examples of becoming a Coastie…not just Hollywood stereotypes of over produced commercials in HD. On the channel, future Guardians get a very true idea of what it takes to be in the Coast Guard, an understanding of the future benefits of serving, and an open forum to get last minute pieces of information needed to encourage that trip to the Coast Guard recruiting office.

Source – http://socialmediarecruitment.com

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