While many new year resolutions have already been forgotten, here are a few quick ways you can update the look and feel of your agency’s social media platforms. Keeping social media platforms fresh can make a big difference in how your followers or potential new followers engage with your content. Updating your platforms at the start of every year will provide you a fresh set of social media statistics to study and you can hopefully watch your engagement numbers improve.
- Update your profile pictures, cover photo, and bio. Keeping your photos current and relevant is important, if you still have holiday themed image on your profile in February, it shows you’re not paying attention to your platforms.
- If your agency is on Twitter, and you haven’t updated your profile photo recently, now’s the time! There’s a popular hashtag, #NewProfilePic, that alerts your followers and anyone following the hashtag that you’ve changed your picture. It gives you a high-profile way to show off something new to your followers and depending on how strong that visual is, provides a great opportunity for engagement.
- For example, if your department got a new K-9, stop whatever you’re doing at the moment and make sure that dog is your new profile pic. You’ll probably have people weighing in to wish the dog good luck or to ask what kind of treats it eats. These engagement opportunities matter more than just likes and retweets. If your Twitter feed is part of your brand, then every tweet or every reply is another way your brand will be defined.
When updating your platform bios:
- Make sure your Twitter bio contains your agency’s location; don’t rely on your agency name to do that as agency names often don’t reveal which locality you serve.
- On your Facebook Page, make sure your contact information is complete: address, phone number, website, etc.
- In the “About” section under hours, some departments write “Always open” which is a tongue-in-cheek, apt way to describe any police department. If your community doesn’t appreciate the nuance of that phrase and expects to be able to pick up a report at 3 a.m., you can always adjust to the true hours someone is seated at a desk and available to assist the public.
- If your department has a tagline such as “First to Serve” you may want to include that.
- Create a social media calendar. This internal document can help you plan your posts and memorialize events you want to mark on social media each year. A great example is Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, which many agencies posted about on January 9 with the hashtag #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay. Having the calendar filled in ahead of time prevents your PIO from having to scramble to catch up with a trending hashtag and instead gives the PIO time to prepare by thinking through how to create the best content.
- Conduct an honest audit of your content from the previous year. Dissect what worked well for you on social media and what didn’t. Become familiar with your social media analytics. Review them often and adjust your social media plan as needed. If an Instagram post isn’t performing well (engagement is low, for example) re-evaluate to consider what may have helped it to perform better. Thinking strategically and do more of what worked previously. Maybe create posts about officers helping animals or going live on Facebook from your Citizens Police Academy’s monthly meeting. Determining what worked and what didn’t will help you plan for 2020 and beyond.
- Go behind the scenes of your agency. Offer a look at policing that most people don’t get to see. How much does your duty belt weigh? What kind of workouts does your SWAT team do? What’s in the trunk of your cruiser? Find a friendly officer and show people either with a series of photos, a video or, depending on the community and the news of the day, consider going live on one of your platforms.
- Think customer service when it comes to your social strategy. Answer people who ask legitimate questions. If someone comments on your Instagram page to thank your agency, at a minimum, reply with a “like,” but ideally give a bit more. Thank them for their support, for their time, or for thinking of your officers. Conversely, be prepared to handle prickly posters or receiving negative feedback. If a person fires off a snarky tweet to your agency, a professional and prompt response could change his or her opinion for the better.
Bonus Step: Update your email signature to include links to your social media platforms to remind people to follow your department. Odds are good you’ll gain new followers.