When you think of things that are “warm and fuzzy,” your local police force doesn’t always come to mind. Nestled in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, the Dunwoody Police Department is trying to change that perception through social media. Similar to big companies, they are re-branding themselves. Just like big brands, they’ve got a mission (to communicate to the public), content creators (themselves), and are judging the analytics of their posts (natively). However, there’s one huge, glaring difference: they don’t have a budget. Here’s what marketers can learn from an a police force who’s making social media work for them for free:
Know who you’re talking to
Dunwoody, GA has a residential population of 50,000 and a daytime population of 100,000. That means that 50,000 people are commuting into the area to work during the day - which creates brutal traffic. As you can imagine, there are a fair number of traffic accidents as well. Public Information Officer Trey Nelson says social media allows the police to reach their community quickly and directly with vital information. “There used to be a buffer between the community and the police. The residents of Dunwoody didn’t want that.” Dunwoody PD is using Twitter, Facebook and Periscope to alert the community of accidents and how to avoid them.
Takeaway: Know how to help your audience. Be useful.
Diversify your content creators
Of their 54 sworn officers, Dunwoody PD always has at least one officer and one shift sergeant who are tasked with manning the social handles, in addition to their other duties. The officers share the passwords to their account and post when they have a moment.
Does the idea of sharing the password to your corporate account scare you? It shouldn’t. If you don’t have a budget, you must make do. Trust that you’ve hired good people with good judgment.
Officers sign their posts with their initials, which helps the reader know that multiple people are responding.
Takeaway: If you’ve hired good people, trust them. They know what to do.
Be Yourself (or Funnier)
Part of what makes Dunwoody PD so successful on social is their sense of humor.
As Officer Nelson explained, “our social media shows our personalities and is reflective of us. It’s not some facade. It’s like being a fly on the wall here.” Dunwoody PD uses Instagram to show the humans behind their team.
Takeaway: social media is fueled by authenticity. Be real, and your community will respond.