Today's guest blogger post comes from Stephanie Slater, Public Information Officer for the Boynton Beach, Florida, Police Department and the City of Boynton Beach. Stephanie is a frequent speaker about law enforcement's use of social media, and has assisted numerous agencies with launching their Facebook and Twitter platforms. She can be reached at 561.742.6191 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Law enforcement agencies that have been using social media for some time now may have noticed that incorporating video onto your department’s platforms often draws the most “likes” or “retweets.”
That’s because online video consumption is off the charts.
YouTube gets over 3 billion views every day. More than 31 million unique viewers watch videos on Facebook each month. And live online streaming video saw a 600% growth in 2010.
If the purpose of law enforcement using social media is to engage the community online – to create an open line of communication, inform and educate and humanize the people behind the badge – then why not do it using online streaming video on social media platforms?
The Boynton Beach Police Department
tried this in November by giving the community face time with Police Chief Matt Immler during a live Web chat via Facebook, Twitter and Ustream. Facebook users logged into the chat by clicking on a Ustream live link posted on the BBPD’s Facebook page. Twitter users followed the chat at @bbpd using the hashtag #immlerchat. Community members also talked to the chief by logging onto the police department’s Ustream channel.
We spent several weeks promoting this chat on our social media sites, encouraging the public to join us, ask questions and voice their concerns. We were thrilled when more than 200 people logged in via Facebook and Ustream and dozens more used the hashtag on Twitter.
It was a fairly easy endeavor. The chief sat in front of one computer; I sat in front of another. As he spoke, I monitored the questions coming in via Facebook, Twitter (using TweetDeck) and Ustream. I read the questions to him and as he responded, I tweeted his responses using the #immlerchat hashtag. We synced our Facebook and Twitter accounts, so I only had to use one platform to respond.
It was an interesting dialogue, with questions ranging from what the police department was doing to address a recent spike in residential burglaries to who the chief thought would win in a fight – Superman or Batman. Chief Immler picked Superman.
What we took away from the live Web chat was that users appreciated the opportunity to see the chief as he spoke with them. From the comforts of their home, they could have a real conversation with the man whose responsibility it is to keep their families safe. We heard from many of them in the days that followed and they thanked us for hosting the chat, educating them and keeping them safe. Ultimately, that is our daily goal – online and on the streets.
We will be having these Web chats again the near future, inviting other members of our department to sit in front of the camera and have a conversation with the community.
To watch the Web chat, visit our Ustream channel at www.ustream.tv/channel/boynton-beach-police
. If you are interested in doing this at your agency, please feel free to call or e-mail with any questions you might have. I’m happy to help you get started.