Today's guest blog post comes from Corinne Geller, public relations director with the Virginia State Police. A former TV news reporter, she joined the state police in 1999 as a field PIO and now oversees statewide media and public relations. She and her team have been experimenting with social media since 2010. Corinne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-674-2789.
With the attention span of today's public being about as long as a gnat, constantly coming up with new ideas to keep one's social media outreach fresh and attractive can be a real challenge. When the Virginia State Police first launched our Facebook page
in March 2010, we had the novel – yet naïve - idea of updating it about three times a week. Quickly we learned that gaining and maintaining one's "fans" was all about providing plenty of relevant, current posts. Fortunately, Google news clips and agency press releases give us plenty of daily material to post on our site. But, there was always that nagging thought that we could still do more with our Facebook site...but what?
Simply look at what your department does every day. For us, it's been a series of light bulb moments and asking ourselves "why we didn't think of that months ago?" A discussion about our upcoming academy class gave us the idea of highlighting the academy experience. Our weekly updates on the Trooper-Trainees in 2011 were a huge hit with their families, as well as a free recruitment tool. I was looking at the Virginia Missing Children's Clearinghouse one day on our Web site and it hit me – with fans from all over the world, why couldn't we feature a child each week? With a quick copy and paste, each week our Facebook page post links to a different child's page already featured on the VSP Web site
. When I saw that a local police department was posting old photos, it gave us the idea to celebrate VSP's 80th anniversary with our Facebook fans by highlighting our history through archived photographs and historical tidbits.
Of course, coming up with the ideas is often the easiest part. It's the execution that can be taxing, especially when you have limited staff and plenty of other full time responsibilities to fulfill. So, be sure to manage your expectations. Due to several major projects this year, we opted to only feature the anniversary historical posts every other week. We've done the same for our current academy class, which can be a bit time consuming with taking the photos.
There is undoubtedly still plenty more that can be done with our social media and the ideas are probably staring me right in the face. But, thanks to those random moments of insight and a wealth of ideas already out there just waiting to be modified to fit our department's goals and programs, I'm sure the light bulb will be flickering on again in the near future.