Social media has become an integral part of the modern world, affecting how we do everything from complete transactions to interact with one another. Even the least tech-savvy people use social platforms to wish loved ones a happy birthday and stay in touch with long lost friends. With so many people online, there’s no question about it: Police departments should use social media.
6 Reasons All Police Departments Should Use Social Media
Social media may seem intimidating or insignificant in the world of policing, but there are several ways your agency can benefit from getting social:
1. Build a Trusting Relationship with Your Community
In the same way social media has shaped our communication styles, incomplete news and fear-based reporting continue to affect how communities view law enforcement. You may know that not every agency struggles with issues commonly seen on the news, but your community could have other perceptions.
This is where social media comes in handy! You have the ability to share information, tips, and articles that will provide value to your community. Being transparent is one of the fastest ways to build trust, and social platforms are designed to tell your story.
2. Shape Your Department’s Reputation
Not only can being active on social media help build trust within your community, but it can also provide a space to shape your department’s reputation. If you’ve discovered that your agency does, in fact, need re-training in some aspect, talk about it on social media.
Share your plans, post updates, and be sincere. Continue with this vision across all social media channels (and in real life) and suddenly you’ve taken control of your agency’s reputation.
3. Create an Open Line of Communication
Social media creates a space for people to speak openly. Don’t be alarmed by the possibility of tough questions. Instead, use them to your advantage!
For instance, let’s say someone sends a semi-angry message that’s ultimately asking about your agency’s use of body cameras. You’ve been presented two wonderful opportunities.
First, you get to respond to this person directly, aiding in building trust and transforming your reputation. (And if they posted the message publically, others will see your response, affecting their perceptions too!).
Second, they’ve presented you with content gold. If they have this question, others probably do too. Seize the opportunity to write a blog post, do a live video, or post a Q&A session to your Instagram stories. Social media is all about providing valuable information to your community.
Now, that said, some people post with no intention of having a productive conversation, and even police departments just don’t have time for haters. You can choose to ignore them or offer to take the conversation offline in a direct message (DM), phone call, or email. Once you’ve done that, simply move forward with using social media successfully.
4. Spread Information Quickly
Social media has been used to catch suspects and find missing persons. By reviewing likes, comments, and friends lists, police can often get a better understanding of someone’s plans. And when you can instantly push information to an entire community, your chances of success skyrocket.
5. Show the Human Side of Policework
Social media provides an opportunity to show that law enforcement officers are also members of the communities they serve. Use social media to feature officers’ accomplishments, make announcements regarding enforcement campaigns, and provide messages about safety.
6. Make Informed Hiring Decisions
Many industries review a job applicant’s social media before making a hiring decision, and with the sensitive positions being filled within law enforcement, this should be a no-brainer. Review photos, friends, and posts for anything inappropriate, illegal, or that could potentially embarrass the department. If something found on social media disqualifies a candidate, let them know what influenced your decision.
Whether your primary motivator is solving crimes or improving your agency’s reputation, it’s clear that all police departments should use social media.
Of course, understanding the value of social media and knowing what and how to post are two different things… Attend or host a training seminar to fine-tune your agency’s social media strategy and reap the benefits!