10 ways to keep your social media content fresh
Here are some ways to switch up the content on your PD’s social media pages to keep your audience engaged
When you’ve been running the same routine on your PD’s social media pages for years, the content becomes stale and you lose audience interest. During the 126th International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, Cambridge (Mass.) PD Director of Communications Jeremy Warnick shared strategies for keeping your content fresh and engaging.
Before he got into specific examples, he outlined three general principles to follow:
- Create content people will want to consume, not content you want people to consume.
- The quality, output and totality of everything on your social media pages matter.
- Look at top corporations, celebrities and brands to see what they’re doing.
Here are Warnick’s 10 examples of how to spice up your social media posts.
1. Get input from your community.
Don’t just talk at your users on social media; actively involve them in the conversation. The Cambridge PD asked its audience to submit questions they had for the agency, then picked the most popular submissions and filmed video answers to them. The agency has also started doing polls – a great way to get insight into things like civilian preparedness for weather events. Think outside the box: if you add a new K-9 to your agency, have the community vote for the name of the animal.
2. Get input from your staff.
Warnick started an informal social media team within the Cambridge PD that meets four times a year. Team members get feedback from the community about what they’d like to see on the PD’s social media pages, which is then shared during the meetings. Setting up a small internal team also doubles as a way of getting more buy-in from agency staff members, who also provide ideas for social media content.
3. Leverage your data.
You have all this data, but how are you using it to tell your story? One option is to make an infographic. A simple tool you can use is Canva, which is intended for people who aren’t experienced in design. You can share crime reduction numbers, safety statistics or whatever information of community interest you think would translate well to an infographic. Remember to keep infographics simple. If you see a good one floating around on social media, you could always reshare it (with credit, of course).
4. Highlight emotion.
There’s been a lot of focus on agencies sharing officers’ acts of kindness toward members of the community, but that’s not the only way to humanize cops. Consider sharing things that provide insight into your department. Proud moments in your agency, like promotions, can perform well. Photos of officers with their families can also be quite popular (with approval and being mindful of OPSEC, of course). Here’s a great one from the Tampa PD:
5. Go behind the scenes.
What’s a day in the life of a SWAT officer? What does the bomb squad do? There are a ton of operations you can film and share with your civilian audience to illustrate the hard work happening behind the scenes of your agency. Remember, you’re a storyteller. Some agencies do walkalongs. Others interview members of their specialty units. The sky’s the limit. These videos don’t require elaborate production – you can shoot and edit them on a phone. The Chicago PD did an excellent video about its bomb squad:
6. Introduce the department.
Who works for you? Who is serving your community? Consider sharing stats about who makes up your workforce. Show members of your agency on the job and share stories of who they are – every single person in your agency has a story to tell. The Sacramento PD shot a video of one of their LEOs using a radio for the first time as a way to introduce him to the community:
🚔Remember the excitement of starting a brand new job? Joseph Kodama, one of our newest Community Service Officers, was riding along CSO Walker and got to talk on the radio for the first time- that smile though! Welcome to the team Joseph! #sacpd #Joinsacpd 😍#thatsmilethough #firstday #communityserviceofficersPosted by Sacramento Police Department on Saturday, August 31, 2019
7. Be topical.
One thing you can easily tie into your content when you’re running out of ideas is social media holidays. Put a calendar together for easy reference or download one (just search “social media holidays calendar”). From National Donut Day to Star Wars Day, there’s a ton of stuff throughout the year you can take advantage of.
Are you paying attention to what’s in the news? Here’s an example of a topical post the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office put together:
ATTENTION PARENTS! Protect your kids.— Kennett Township Police Chief (@ChiefKennett) August 15, 2019
Our police friends at the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office put together a helpful cheat sheet just for parents and guardians with 15 apps you should know about! pic.twitter.com/6hP0nKgN0h
Topical applies to local stuff, too. When your sports teams are in the postseason, voice your support for them. If you’re actively involved in helping them (security, etc.), even better! Share those moments.
8. Create or join hashtags.
Capitalizing on hashtags is a great way to engage and expand your audience. A couple of examples are the #LipSyncChallenge – which became so popular that many agencies got national news attention from their participation – and the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office’s ever-popular #9pmroutine.
9. Get creative on the same old.
The more you see the same old same old, the easier it is to tune it out. From crime bulletins to traffic advisories, consider ways you can change the way you’re delivering information. The Seattle PD freshened up its legal quick tips with these attention-grabbing videos:
10. Integrate emojis.
Tread lightly, but there are times where emojis can be very effective – like what the Cambridge PD did for #WorldEmojiDay:
👍 to our👮♂️👮♀️s who arrested 4 🦹♂️s today for stealing 🚲s in Central & Harvard Square 🏢🏬 #CambMA following 2 separate investigations 🕵️♀️. One of the suspects also had a stolen 📦.— Cambridge Police👮🏽 (@CambridgePolice) July 17, 2019
🚲 theft is ⬆️93% this year versus last year and is a focus of our 🚔. #WorldEmojiDay
Is your agency thinking outside the box? Email examples of LE social media best practices to firstname.lastname@example.org.