What to consider when setting up PD social media accounts
There are dozens of networks your department could join — how do you make the most of your limited time?
If you are just embarking on a social media strategy for your department — or are relatively new to it — you might be scratching your head trying to figure out which ones to use. I recently found a list of more than 150 social media websites.
Traditionally, law enforcement officers hate change. When we do change, we’re usually 20 years behind everyone else. As a social media manager for your department, you are going to have to change frequently, whether you like it or not.
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
So where are they going? If we are going to be posting messages about cyber bullying, or getting “on their level” to receive tips or information on crimes, then we need to go where they go, right? After all, isn’t that the whole ideology of social media and law enforcement?
Until I spoke with some mentors and received some training in social media, I was guilty of thinking I would sign our department up for any social media channel I heard about. I was proud of my long list, because I was going to have every angle covered — or so I thought.
I was on a mission to have the “Binford 6100” model of social media programs.
In truth, I was on course for disaster.
What I had failed to account for was the simple ratio of the number of social media managers my department had versus the amount of accounts we had. Since the answer was one (me) versus 10 social media channels, my plan could possibly be a detriment to our program.
Each social media channel you manage requires your dedication and passion in order for it to thrive. It needs to have your full attention and constant interaction to make it a success. As with other things in life, if our attention is split, things start coming apart.
What’s a Safe Amount?
Although you have to make some changes to the default settings in your profile or options area, you can integrate the channels. Here are some examples:
• If I do a press release on our website, it automatically “pushes” that press release to our Facebook Fanpage. Facebook then automatically pushes the information to our Twitter feed. I just took care of two social media channels with one entry on our website.
Since Facebook and Twitter are essentially the only channels where I have interaction with our followers and fans, it is very easy to communicate using these two channels.
Know Your Tools
• Settings: Know all of the security, privacy and administrative settings.
Who Benefits From This Advice?
The majority of departments in the United States are comprised of small to medium agencies. When I wrote this article, I took budget cuts, lack of staffing, and the fact that many social media managers do this as a collaborative duty, into account.
Remember, it’s easier to expand than scale back. Start your program out small and expand when you feel you can handle it, and when your public demands it.
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