Police Departments and Social Media: A Guide to Doing It Right
A police department located in a small town in Ohio is a Facebook sensation. Chief Oliver, known as Cheap Otter to his youngest fans, is gaining worldwide attention for his social media savvy. With over 70,000 followers who check in on a regular basis, the Brimfield Police Department is doing all of the right things on Facebook. If your department has set up a Facebook page, here’s a guide to keeping it rolling along and gaining fans:
Most people “like” or follow your Facebook page because they want to keep abreast of local crime. If something is happening in your town, put the information on your page in a timely manner. Clearly you won’t be posting about a crime as you are responding to the call but, if the crime affects the citizens of your locale, post the information in a timely manner. That means putting the word out there before the reporters catch wind of what’s going on.
If you have mug shots, post them. If you have video or still images and need help identifying a subject, post them. Local, law-abiding citizens are a fantastic source of information and, believe it or not, they really do want to help. Posting for assistance will make your fans feel as though they are your partners in the fight against crime.
3.Include Local Events
People want to know that their police departments are involved in the community. Post information about local events and general goings on. Let the community know, for instance, that you will have 15 officers participating in the holiday parade. Tell everyone about new businesses opening in the city. Consider your department as an ambassador for your city; what would you like the public to know?
If your department is large, or if your chief isn’t quite as tech savvy as he should be, ask for volunteers to keep the page going. You should post to your Facebook page at least twice each day. Posting fresh content will keep people checking in. Try to post once in the morning and once in the evening to reach the most people. Ask questions and post polls to encourage interaction on your wall.
5.Make it Fun
Your page doesn’t have to be full of doom and gloom, nor should it be. Don’t forget to post fun content during the week. Your content could be in the form of jokes, videos of K9 training or anything else that you fancy. You don’t want your page to have all the fun of a funeral. A good balance is 50/50. Post crime stories 50 percent of the time and post entertaining tidbits, videos and photos the other 50 percent of the time.
The next time you have a minute to spare, check out the Brimfield PD’s Facebook page. You don’t have to copy Cheap Otter to have a successful page, but you can definitely learn a lesson or two. After all, it’s the most popular police page around.
Author Brett Harris is a full-time blogger. Interested in criminal justice as a career? Check out the top online cj schools.