For many law enforcement agencies, when asked if they have a social media program, their answer will be something like, “yes, we have a Facebook page, and Twitter account.” A good start, but as a standalone, this doesn’t exactly define a program.
Many agencies struggle to gain traction once they launch an agency Facebook page. Take for example, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office that was recently featured in the PublicEngines Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement Agencies 2013. The agency launched its Facebook page, but after three years, only had about 200 Likes, and almost no engagement or interaction with the community. Almost by accident, the Agency went from 200 Likes to several hundreds when hurricane Sandy hit as people in the community were searching for credible sources about the storm and public safety issues.
We can learn from the spike in Likes and engagement Niagara experienced, and it can be done without the help of a hurricane!
The Guide to Social Media Engagement list six ideas for growing your audience and engaging with them:
- Hold an Launch Event. Many agencies have successfully hosted a social media launch event (Facebook) by tying into an existing community events. Another example was when the Virginia State Police Department launched its Facebook page on the anniversary of a community-known unsolved homicide.
- Obtain Publicity. Most agencies have good working relationship with local media. By issuing a news announcement & having news stories about the social media initiative, agencies can gain awareness, likes/followers, and begin the engagement process.
- Promote Social Media Profiles on Agency Website. In addition to making people aware the profiles exist, agencies can also ask questions on the website, and ask the community to provide comments on its social sites.
- Use Email to Promote Social Sites & Engage. From including links to social sites in email signatures, to direct outreach emails asking for Likes, or community-related questions, email can be a great way to communicate.
- Maintaining Engagement. By providing consistent and predicable information that is useful, actionable, compelling, and sharable with others, fans and followers will begin to anticipate and look forward to these posts. Engagement is sure to follow.
- Use CityConnect. All citizens to access all of the agencies social media and web accounts to citizens through their smart phones to make connecting and engagement easy, and always available. CityConnect is an agency-branded mobile app that does just that. From allowing people to deliver crime tips, to accessing CrimeReports, and even for emergency updates, there is no better way to connect with people today than through their smart phone.
The full Guide contains more details, and useful case examples. You can download it here.