Date: Monday, August 12, 2013
For all of those who use social media, you dream of the post, story, photo, or video that goes viral and reaches an audience beyond your expectation. In law enforcement circles, a viral post can bring attention to your social media channel and add followers; thereby increasing your department’s reach and influence in your local community. Although viral posts do happen from time to time, for the most part they are few and far between, especially in law enforcement circles.
On July 26, 2013, the Dunwoody Police Department posted a photo and story on their Facebook page about an elderly woman who had a flat tire and was stranded on Interstate 285. The department had a delayed response due to traffic. An Army National Guardsman stopped and helped her get to the side of the road and changed her tire. Sergeant Espinoza posted a nice write up about what happened. Surprisingly, this post went viral.
Several things contributed to the post going viral. The first was the fact that the post involved a member of the military in his uniform. Our military has been fighting on the front lines in our fight against terrorism now for many years and citizens are quick to recognize their efforts on duty and off duty. Posts involving children and animals seem to generate a great deal of attention as well.
The second factor contributing to this post going viral was the way the post was written. Sergeant Espinoza included adequate details and a quote from the Army National Guardsman which captured our audience’s attention. In addition, Sergeant Espinoza went out of his way to get the name of the Army National Guardsman, which made the post more personal.
The last factor contributing to this post going viral was that two local television stations, Fox5News and WSBTV, shared the post on their own Facebook pages. One station has 200,000 Likes and the other has 125,000 Likes. These two television stations picked up on the post once they saw how much attention it was getting. Once the two television stations shared the post, it went viral.
In just two weeks time, the post had over 41,700 likes, 6,400 shares, nearly 1,700 comments, and just under 1,000,000 views. As a result of this post, the department added about 300 new Likes for its Facebook page.
With the right post, the right subject and a lot of luck, your agency may just have a post that goes “viral” one day, which is a good thing in the social media world.