some people have way too many followers...

Welcome to the second in a new series of social media tips aimed primarily at a police audience, but hopefully applicable to a wider group of people too, especially those in the public sector. This series of posts will aim to identify some good practice and useful hints and tips for police officers and staff to consider when using social media.

Part 2: How do I get followers / friends ???

One way people measure the success of Facebook and Twitter is by the number of followers, friends or ‘likes’ they have received. There are lots of ways to increase this number (see below), but first be aware that for everyone who feels strongly enough to click on that button, there will be many more who will read your updates, but not click ‘like’. Don’t be discouraged if you seem to only have a few followers- the reality is that many more people are seeing your posts than you might at first think.

Top 9 tips for getting followers:

  1. Don’t just engage online – for example why not use crime prevention visits to show people how to use Facebook, Twitter or whatever platform you are using, link them to your profile, and other relevant pages (obviously ask first!
  2. Similarly use your normal promnotional material for your neighbourhood policing team (posters, business cards etc) to publicise your pages. Point out to people that they can now get updates on Twitter.
  3. Provide useful content – just sending out press releases is dull, dull, dull! Think about what you are trying to do, and what will interest your audience. Most of this should relate to policing, but it is ok to post other relevant stuff occasionally too, such as links to local events etc.
  4. Ask questions and provide answers to others questions. The big thing about social media is the two way, conversational factor. Use this to ask questions, and get people talking about policing issues that affect them.
  5. Ask people to follow or like your page. Often overlooked, but simply asking people to follow you (whether online or offline) will usually get results.
  6. Use a photo and a biography

  7. Be personal – include a bio and photos. I rarely follow someone on Twitter who hasn’t bothered to post up a bio. On Facebook and Twitter a photograph goes a long way to show that there is a real person on the end. In some cases a corporate logo might be appropriate…but even then photos of the team who are working in that area can be added as well.
  8. Start by listening to other conversations and engage in conversations that are relevant to policing. People like someone who shares and converses with them, and are more likley to follow you back. This is true on other websites as well – just leave a link back to your Facebook / Twitter or whatever page.
  9. Think about the language you use (it should be professional, but friendly not press release style).
  10. Be patient! It can take some time to build up a significant number of followers. Don’t be discouraged after a few months if numbers are still low. Keep at it.

And why only 9 tips, not the more normal 10? Because I am hoping that some of you will add your tips in the comments to improve this post further!

This post was previously published on Partrdigej’s blog.

Previous posts from the Social Media Handbook Series:Part 1: What Social Media networks should I use?

Justin Partridge

Justin Partridge is a senior manager for Lincolnshire Police in England. He also works on Local Policing and Partnerships for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

Justin Partridge has worked in the public sector since leaving university, and for the police since 2003. After being one of only three non-sworn staff selected for the prestigious Police Strategic Command Course (for those who aspire to the most senior posts in UK policing), he started working on the national Local Policing and Partnerships area with chief officers from across the UK, and with partners from the Home Office, NPIA, APA and elsewhere.

Justin is passionate about making a difference to people, and see social media and new technologies having a major role in this – especially in policing and the wider public sector. He blogs on a variety of issues, predominantly around police and technology, and can be found on Twitter talking about much the same.