posed the question here a couple of weeks ago, “Would I be exaggerating if I called 2011 the year for social media in law enforcement?”
I answer to you Tracy, No. It’s not an exaggeration. I think back to late 2008 when I ran my first Twitter Search for the word police. 15 results, 12 actual police agencies, no individuals and of those 12 agencies… NO interaction with the public. Tweets that added no foreseeable values were being sent and no RT’s, @replies, or @mentions. Facebook? Even less police were there… at least less agencies and individuals identifying themselves as police. You could find lots of people you suspected were police by their listed occupation, “Human Garbage Collector” or their latest status update, “Just found a dismembered body in an abandoned building. Reminds me, need to pick up pasta and sauce for dinner tonight.” Or their page likes, friends, and so on.
There were only a few places to go that someone venturing out into social media could turn for reliable factual information on how to “do” social for law enforcement and exactly zero were actually from law enforcement.
Fast forward through the next two years. I added just under 1200 Twitter IDs and 500 Facebook IDs to lists of law enforcement. In 2011 alone I added 1400 Twitter IDs and 1000 Facebook IDs. By no means do I think I have I seen them all or feel my lists are complete, but that will give you an idea of the growth. You can find very credible sources of information to assist you in your answers about social media use for law enforcement now.
Beyond the growth though, is the more impressive depth to the accounts that have been created and the use of those accounts. We have seen a literal explosion in two way communication and information sharing from police with the public and vice versa. We have learned that being social is the first step to doing social. We have seen the importance of listening first, understanding second, and talking last.
There have been great success and noticeable failures.
By no means are we done yet! I believe the best and worst are both yet to come. So here are my Top 11 predictions for the coming year (Top 10 lists…ugh, everyone does them):
1. The proper and professional use of video is going to become second nature for a strong social media program.
2. Blogs will blossom.
3. Budgets will demand that analytics and ROI become commonplace to support social media efforts and scale.
4. Because of that, more with less is going to be the norm…be great or don’t be at all.
5. Mobile will continue to advance by leaps and bounds which will play well into more with less and ROI
6. The ‘love-in’ experienced, “just because” the public’s local police are using social media is over and the public will demand (and deserve) greater accountability.
7. There will be less tolerance for mistakes, faux pas, and ignorance.
8. Internal monitoring will be strengthened. Risk management, mitigation, policy, and training will be solidified.
9. Working partnerships with individuals of influence, community groups, professional partnerships, and other police agencies will be standard.
10. Strategic development of programs, campaigns, and priorities will be implemented by the most committed agencies.
The tweet for the sake of tweeting, post for the sake of posting days are fleeting. Real substance and value will be the best for everyone. It’s time to step it up a notch and really use social media for everything that it has to offer!
I also believe that to be true to what we represent, we will have to hold ourselves and our brothers and sisters accountable for the good of all. When mistakes are made, we will owe it to ourselves to help teach, criticize in a constructive way, and tell each other how we can improve. No different then debriefing a major incident or a traumatic event. We can all learn from our mistakes for the greater good.
In closing, I want to thank each and every one of you who have read, commented, and interacted with me over the past year. Thanks to the IACP for the leadership and vision for providing such a great resource to turn to.
From the Burrows family to you, have a very safe and enjoyable festive holiday season and an incredible New Year!