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Connect with Your Citizens Anywhere They Want - CityConnect: New Mobile App for Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement to Community Communication – dialogue, not monologue

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:

  1. download The Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement AgenciesHold 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Use CityConnect. All citizens to access all of the agencies social media and web CityConnectaccounts 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.

Using Social Media in Law Enforcement, a Guide

Most organizations over the past several years have been asking a lot of questions about using social media. For many, there’s a general feeling that their organization should be doing something. That’s a good start, and many stall out there, because of not knowing what to do.

Thankfully, now that organizations have been implementing various social media strategies for a few years, we now have the opportunity to learn from what others have done right, and of course what they’ve done wrong.

I’ve worked with a variety of companies over the years on developing and implementing download The Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement Agenciesa social media strategy. I wondered how unique Law Enforcement would be in its approach to using social media, which is why I was excited to review The Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement Agencies, published by PublicEngines. Below are a few things I’ve learned so far.

The Same Pitfalls

It makes sense to learn from The Guide that Law Enforcement Agencies face similar hurdles, challenges, and make the same mistakes as retailers, businesses, other government agencies, and even celebrities, when trying to use social media. The Guide outlines three common mistakes:

  1. The Set-it and Forget-it Agency. We’ve all seen examples of this when we visit a site or page, and the content is old – like months, or even over a year since the last post. In many ways, a neglected site, is worse than no site at all.
  2. The Spammer Agency. When I see a company that starts posting too much useless information, I imagine that someone said we need to post 14 times per day, and they purchased some software tool that allows them to pre-load hundreds of posts. I typically turn these alerts off, and it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.
  3. The Serial Experimenter Agency. In this instance, you can see there is no real plan in place – just ideas. While the agency is making attempts to do something it comes off as unorganized, confused, and uncontrolled. It can’t be maintained, and the audience goes away.

These are similar issues any organization faces, so it represents lessons we can learn from. On the flip side, there are some specific things that are unique to Law Enforcement that need to be considered in your planning.

Unique to Law Enforcement

In the Identify Your Goals and Objectives section of The Guide, I was thrilled to see specific examples that are unique to Law Enforcement. In my experience, setting goals and objectives can be extremely difficult because social media is so new, and everything moves so quickly. The examples can help to kick-start the process of designing a program that will work for your agency. The Guide lists goal examples of creating public awareness of the agency’s policing/safety efforts, creating greater transparency and more open dialogue, to encouraging citizens to help with crime stopper efforts through tips, and even to improve police services through greater collaboration.

For more information on these topics, I encourage you to download The Definitive Guide to Social Media Engagement for Law Enforcement Agencies here.

Do You Know How to Manage Facebook Privacy Settings?

Chances are that you are on Facebook. Or, if you’re not, you soon will be. After all, Facebook boasts over 400 million users across the world (Facebook Press Room) and is growing rapidly.

We all have our own reasons for joining—we want to connect with old friends, find new friends, or we give in to pressure from friends or family that are already there (Groundswell, 2008). However, too many of us join Facebook without giving much attention to our Facebook privacy settings.

A Consumer Reports survey, released yesterday, says that 52% of social network users posted “risky information” during the past year. Interestingly, the number was 56% among Facebook users. A New York Times analysis of this Consumer Reports survey says the report “inadvertently reveals that Facebook users clearly have no idea about how much they’re publicly sharing on the network.”

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Will Anti-Bullying Legislation Make a Difference?

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Cyberbullying has been a major theme in headlines over the past few months. The teen suicides of Long Island’s Alexis Pilkington and Massachusetts’ Phoebe Prince, as well as the bullying of California teenager Autumn Albin, have generated legislative action from California to New Hampshire.

Here is a brief look at what four states are doing to stop bullying.


In wake of Phoebe Prince’s death, the Boston Herald reported that both the state House and Senate passed anti-bullying bills in March. According to the article, both bills seek to “curtail bullying in schools and in cyberspace.”

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Social Media and Law Enforcement: Your Facebook Demographics

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This is a bit of a follow up to a post I did last week about the type of citizens you can expect to connect to if your department is on Twitter. Well, this week, Mashable released a Facebook infographic along roughly the same lines (pictured at right).

One of the things I found interesting was that African Americans, Asians, and Latinos are more likely to use Facebook than Caucasians. And this follows on the heels of a Morpace Omnibus study that found,

Non-Caucasian consumers tend to be more active users of Facebook, and will more likely join retailer fan pages. One-half (50 percent) of Hispanics, 46 percent of Asians, and 44 percent of African Americans consider Facebook to be a useful tool for researching new products. Only 31 percent of Caucasians agreed.

Although the study found that non-Caucasians were more likely to “fan” retailers’ pages, I think the same probably holds true for law enforcement pages. My reason being that people who “fan” retail pages are more likely to fan other organizations like charities and government agencies.

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