Using social media to promote your PD

Getting people to visit your department online will allow you to have a say in how your agency is perceived. If the public likes the types of things you’re talking about on the Internet, they will be more likely to go directly to you for information - not the mainstream media, which can shape the story as they see fit. The key is to get the public to pay attention in the first place, which requires figuring out what they find interesting.

As PoliceOne listened in on day one of this year’s SMILE Conference, we heard firsthand from the Calgary Police department how they’ve done exactly that. They shared the top five things departments can post to their Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube pages to get people talking — favorably — about the police.

1.) Weirdest 911 Calls
Post the latest — and strangest — calls you’ve answered in a short list format. Comic relief can be invaluable in garnering interest and getting visitors to your pages.

2.) Crime Stats
People want to know what’s happening in their neighborhood, and if you’re looking into an incident — and posting about it — they’ll come to you for the latest updates. Instead of leaving people to read about the hurdles of the investigative process, tell them what you’re doing to be proactive.

3.) Most-wanted List
Post names and pictures of the most wanted criminals in your area so the public will know who to look out for. This has a double benefit for you if people recognize one and call you with a tip.

4.) Sex-offender List
Like the above, neighbors and concerned parents want to know who sex offenders are so they can protect against the threat.

5.) Job Opportunities
Expanding what types of things you talk about on your social media pages will cause members of the community to look to you as a kind of local expert. It’s not a topic directly related to law enforcement, but in this economy, jobs and where to find them is pertinent information for anyone to have.

Building a relationship with the community requires knowing your community. Post what people want to know about, and they’ll be more likely to return.

Remember: If you have no visitors, it’s impossible to influence anyone’s opinion about the job you’re doing.

About the author

Hayley Hudson is a contributor to PoliceOne, writing primarily on the people and personalities in police work, focusing on how others might relate to and learn from them.

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