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TAG: social media
What to Tweet?
Tweeting as an organization can be an interesting exercise, but it doesn’t have to be like cuffing a naked and bloody mental patient (if you’ve ever had the opportunity, you know what I mean). As a Law Enforcement organization, we are not tweeting about the great cheesesteak we had last night, the shellacking the Sixers just put on the Knicks (sorry NYPD), or the smelly person that just sat next to us on the subway.
Content, especially for tweets, is all around us. Tweeting is a great way to let people know what you are doing on other digital media. “VIDEO: Suspect wanted for Robbery in the 3rd District” and a link to the video is all it takes. Traffic updates are another easy thing that people love to see. We are often the ones closing the streets for auto accident, fire scenes, parades, etc. A quick tweet, “TRAFFIC ADVISORY: Today until 9pm, 18th to 20th St from Race to Callowhill including Logan Cir closed for Franklin Science Fair” lets people know they need to plan a different route and that we are looking out for them.
Tweets can also give your citizens a peek “behind the badge.” Is one of your coworkers retiring? Getting an award? Snap a picture with your phone and tweet it. Are your officers doing some high-speed training? While we do not have provocatively dressed crime scene investigators using green lasers to find a single hair in a warehouse to blow the case wide open (if you do, call me when you are hiring!), one of the most popular things we have ever tweeted, was an impromptu picture of officers doing Patrol Bicycle training. Sweaty cops after a bike ride, who knew?
Another important aspect of Twitter is showing off. That’s right, puff out your chest a little, you’re doing a good job! Citizens tweet some nice things at us and we love to retweet them. People enjoy seeing that their police department is paying attention and it lets our citizens know about some of the good things our officers are doing. In that vein, we also try to respond to every question. It is usually just a phone number or a link but people really do appreciate it.
We all have many other duties to perform and tweeting could be a full-time job, but making an effort to reach out to the people that we are paid to serve, even if it is digitally, is a cornerstone of good policing. So get over the fact that is has a silly name, get your department a Twitter handle, and tweet away!
Corporal Frank Domizio has been with the Philadelphia Police Department for 16 years. He is currently assigned to the Department’s Office of Media Relations and Public Affairs where he is the Social Media Community Manager. Frank is also a regular lecturer at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business on the topics of social media and content strategy.
Social Media Heating Up Cold Cases
The explosive growth of social media has been amazing to watch. As a former law enforcement officer I used social media during investigations to try and tap into the electronic street for information. Whether it was to track the whereabouts of wanted individuals or to try and catch a tidbit of information, social media often provides what you seek when properly used. Now, that I am retired, I am exploring new ways that LEOs can use social media to help solve more cases by using the existing tools that are already out there. The focus of this article is how law enforcement can use social media to help stoke interest in cold cases. I was surprised to see how many police department websites don’t have a page dedicated to missing persons and unsolved crimes.
Social media can play a bifurcated role in help solving cold cases. First, for the victim’s family, it keeps the case relevant. There is no better way to give the case life then injecting a fresh look at things. Birthdays, incident dates and holidays can all be used to garner information. Using social media also helps bridge the gap that develops in cold cases between the family and the police. It brings good will and a renewed interest. However, before I started any social media campaign for a cold case, I would ensure two things: 1) that the case has some solvability factors and 2) that I spoke with the family and explained what is happening before going live. Family members always want to see the case closed with an arrest, however, the emotions brought out when renewing the relationship weighs heavily on them.
For LEOs, social media provides a home base for the collection and dissemination of intelligence information for people that knew the victim(s), followed the case carefully and may be able to provide further information. It can also serve as a database of eyewitnesses that now may have scattered throughout the nation or identify ones that were originally reluctantly to come forward. With the many location finders on social media, investigators can save hundreds of hours tracking down people that were involved with the case. What is better than them coming to you? In essence, the social media page acts as an online memorial and tribute to the victim. They always seem to bring about chatter and conversations which may in turn provide a viable lead. It is important that the page be monitored and investigators should respond and engage comments posted on the site.
Whenever you create a website or post, you have to think about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is a tricky thing for non-techies like myself, so I will encourage you to read up on it. However, there are a few simple things that you can do so that your site gets the maximum attention from search engines. Make sure you include Tags and or Labels. Tags and Labels are the words that describe what is in your post and will be picked up by search engines and each platform, Blogger, WordPress, etc. calls them different things, but they have the same goal, optimization.
When designing a cold case page or post, ensure you include the following tags and or labels so that if anyone inputs the label in a search, your post will show up in the results:
- Victim’s name
- Location of the incident (if known)
- Date of incident
- Local Police Department’s name and contact info
Social media can help investigators garner new information and leads, however, it is still the mainstream media that drives the point home. Many cold cases come from the era that predated the Internet, so television news spots, newspapers and radio are still vital in investigations. That demographic cannot be ignored. Social media can be used to attract the mainstream media, which can gauge the public’s interest on a particular case and cover it, supplying law enforcement with the amount of exposure necessary to turn the heat up on cold cases.
- November, 2
- Cold Cases, SM Use
Solving crime with social media
I have posted regularly about the ways in which the police are increasingly using social media, not just to engage with local communities but to gather intelligence and pursue investigations.
The iPlod generation is mainly self-taught but developing a more sophisticated approach each month.
However, the UK is still playing catch up with the use of social media by law enforcement agencies in the US. A recent survey found that 80% of law enforcement personnel use social media to conduct investigations. Interestingly, 87% search warrants which use social media to establish “probable cause” are confirmed as legal when challenged in court.
As you can see below, most of this information is garnered from a very lovely infographic produced by Background Check:
If you are interested in US law enforcement use of social media, I highly recommend the ConnectedCops website and following its creator, @LawsComm on Twitter.
This article was previously posted on Russ Webster’s blog.
Using analytics to gauge your social media impact.
You can view the use of social media without application of proper analytics tools through the axiom of the old story: A wife and husband were driving on the interstate. The wife asks, “Where are we going?” The husband replies, “I don’t know but we are making great time.” Using social media to get your message out is only a small part of the process. In order to make social media work, you not only have to be able to decide the correct platform for sending messages, but also, how to select and use the correct analytics to determine if you are hitting the right targets. You must know how to gauge if your social media efforts are being successful in order to determine the return on your social media investment,
At Police Department A, the Major in charge of the media relations department is incredibly pleased with the results from the latest surveys showing the impact of department’s social media campaign. Crime may have spiked in one area, due to a string of robberies, but with the use of social media to get the message out, the citizens responded and their help led to the capture of the criminal. In this department, they use analytics to gauge impacts of their social media messaging in order to help tailor the message platforms for different neighborhoods.
Now, consider the situation at Police Department B. The Chief comes into the media relations department and simply states crime is down, but social media has been a failure. The county manager is going to pull the funding for the initiative if it can’t be shown to be effective. Confused by the statement, the director of social media replies, “For the report, do you want us to combine numbers for all projects, targeted neighborhoods, heat graphs showing area coverage, individually map points or all combined?” The chief simply says, “Yes” and walks out the door.
A single law enforcement organization may well need to use several different social media platforms to get its message out to their communities. The proper platform is dependent on the base makeup of the communities who use various social media is different ways. For example, to serve and connect to the community, an organization has a number of platforms to choose from: direct emails, electronic fliers, blog posts, websites, Facebook, Twitter, or even stay with simple face to face officer to individual to get its message out. But once you find the right social media platform to get your message out, you best not think your work is done. This is the point at which many social media programs derail. You have to determine if your efforts are being successful. You must gauge how much of your target audience received the messages, and then if they acted on the message. Use targeted site analytics to determine your coverage and then the impact of your message on the individuals who make up your communities. You will see if you are making connections, and building the desired relationships, between law enforcement and the community through cyber space. Then, as necessary, you make adjustments to better use the platforms to get your message out. Without using the correct analytic tools, you are truly operating blind.
Excellent analytical platforms exist that can help you gauge your social media impact. They have varying costs, and can be simple or complex. Before deciding which you will use, first, ask what you wish to discover and monitor, and then how to make sense of the data you will get. How do you want to see your data presented? Do you want heat maps to graphically see your coverage area, straight data numbers, “pings,” two way blog communications or some other way? The choices can be daunting and require extensive homework to choose the right one for your situation. There are over 200 analytical tools on the marked today to include:
- Google Analytics: Shows how many people went to your website and where they stayed the longest. Are people reading what you want them to read? Did you hit or miss with your organizations website? Remember the website is your brochure to the world.
- TwitSprout: Ranks your top tweets and number of times retweeted.
- TweetyFeet: Basic dashboard for multiple sites and lets you know immediately when someone is using one of your tools.
- HootSuite: Manage your activity from several social media platforms in one place.
- Reinvigorate: Heat maps graphically show the segment you are hitting.
Even the best analytics provides only so much data; it is the human intelligence from your officers who give greatest insights and confirmations as to your level of social media success. For instance, when you are using social media to alert the community of specific crimes in an area, the commanders see will see any changes in real numbers. Then the question is, did the message make the community aware of the problem, and did they help to resolve the issue? Commanders and officers can talk to the citizens and learn if social media did influence the community in resolving the crime issue. During community meetings, commanders can discuss the social media platforms and see if the community has the ability, interest, or understanding to use them. The feedback may show social media messages being missed by a particular segment of the community, highlighting need for the police to teach the citizens how to use social media. Working with the community in this manner fosters trust in the community for law enforcement.
A street level officers can hand out flyers to citizens on where to find crime tips through the organization’s social media sites. More than anyone else in the organization, they have the ability gain feedback from individuals in the communities and bring back ideas on how platforms are working in area. They can help in the targeting of specific neighborhoods for social media training. But more importantly, they will be asking citizens if they have used the social media sites to learn information from the department to better protect themselves. The one-on-one conversations provide the meat on the bones of the analytical tool framework. The conversations help open the communication pipeline, while the analytics help gauge if the citizens are receiving the social media message.
Simply implementing a social media strategy to get your organization’s message out is only half the battle in an effective social media campaign. You must be able to see if you have been successful. From the outset, your organization must determine what it wants to measure and then choose the appropriate analytical tools. You cannot simply pick one over another without understanding the reach of each one. You might be able to get by with a simple analytic or find you require one that measures many platforms at once. The goal is not to simply go on a social media journey, but to also know when you have arrived at your destination.