Many agencies have quickly come to realize how beneficial social media sites can be when it comes to recruitment efforts. But do you also realize that the “fans” you make during these endeavors are very likely to stick around and become long-time, strong supporters of your agency?
That’s what we’ve seen at Richmond Police during the past five years we’ve used our Facebook page to share information and the experience of what our recruits go through to become sworn officers.
We started by doing weekly photos of what the recruits learned that week—from the excitement of being placed in the K-9 bite suit to the dull, but critically important skills of report writing.
We’ve also done a Tumblr blog and different types of video. Though some might question why we keep posting similar information for every class, the comments alone show us why it’s so important.
Here’s one example:
Because the recruits in the academy are going through such intense training and transition, they don’t often have the time, let alone the energy, to talk to their loved ones about what they’re doing. That’s where we come in. Our Facebook page allows us to share their journey, inform the public, and create long-standing relationships with people who continue to be our Facebook fans long after their loved one has graduated the academy.
Another example is the kind comments from the parents of an officer who graduated from the academy three years ago. Because they don’t live locally, one of the easiest and best ways they can keep up with their son and his good work is our Facebook page, and they greatly appreciate that.
Though most of the department has seen how successful our social media efforts have been, others still haven’t had that revelation . . . yet. Here’s one example: A new captain recently transferred to our Training Academy and one day he was chatting with one of the new recruits and he asked him why he picked Richmond Police when he didn’t really have a lot of Richmond connections. The young recruit explained to the captain that when he was researching police departments, he found our Facebook page and after seeing all the interesting and positive things that we do, decided that this was the agency for him. That was the epiphany moment for that captain.
And that’s why he’s led our latest efforts to share and educate our Facebook fans with the current recruit class. He came up with the idea to post a photo to Faceboo
k for almost every day of training the class goes through.
This is great for several reasons – it helps manage the workload, it’s a different way of sharing the same information, and it keeps with our department’s mission of education the community.
An interesting aside when it comes to our recruit classes - five years ago, there was ONE recruit on Facebook and ZERO using Twitter. In our last two classes, the overwhelming majority of the class has been on Facebook, several use Twitter, and now a few even use Pinterest. That shows you how much times have changed in just such a short period.
Overall, social media can help police departments in a variety of ways, but when it comes to recruitment, the ways to share the stories and the rewards to both your agency and the community are endless.