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Increasing Facebook Likes – Ads Vs Content

Increasing Facebook Likes – Ads Vs Content

By: Guest Blogger
Date: Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Guest Blogger

The Social Media Beat periodically features guest bloggers who share their perspective on the topic of social media and law enforcement.

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Deputy Chief Andy Johnson is a 17-year veteran of the Hanover Park, Illinois, Police Department. He currently serves as Deputy Chief of Support Services, where he oversees emergency management, code enforcement, records, training, budget and purchasing, and the social media outreach program. Andy has served in a variety of roles within the Hanover Park PD including patrol sergeant, detective, special operations officer, and patrol officer. Andy led a committee tasked with developing a social media outreach initiative for the Hanover Park Police Department, known as the Police and Citizens Connected (PACC) Program. The PACC Program is a department-wide initiative which includes a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other applications. Additionally, he serves as Communications Committee Chair of the DuPage County, Illinois, Chiefs of Police Association and as a member of the Public Relations and Content Strategy Committee for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

One of the primary concerns of any agency who has taken the step into the world of social media communications is how to keep the audience growing in terms of both size and engagement. The easy availability of metrics that tell us how many people are following us, who is engaging with our content and when and how often, and who our audience is show us very clearly what we are doing well and where we could perhaps improve.

With Facebook especially, we are competing with a stunning array of other available pages for audience attention. Our followers (and all Facebook users) only have a finite amount of disposable time they can spend on the pages, which requires a vetting process in which users decide which posts to pay attention to and which ones to skim past. Engagement, as we all know, is what leads to our pages being shown to more people which will, in turn, lead to more likes and even more engagement (hopefully).

In Hanover Park, we have placed a high value on trying to steadily increase the number of unique ‘likes’ on our page. Knowing this number is increasing reinforces to us that our time is well spent and we have an ever increasing chance to get our messages into more households. We recently passed our goal of reaching 5,000 unique likes and we hope to continue progressing. To supplement our efforts, we have employed the use of limited, targeted Facebook ads. Facebook ads are very simple to use, and take only a few minutes to set up. Once you choose a photo and brief message, you simply input the dates, times, and budget for the ad campaign. One important thing to note is that you can target your audience by selecting zip codes or states (we always use our area code to specifically target our residents), and the system defaults to showing your ad only to people who don’t already like your page. Based on how much you are looking to spend, Facebook will use an algorithm to show your ad in the timeline of a selected group of your target audience.  Our ad tends to look like this: 

We have found that, generally speaking, a $25 ad run over a weekend can net us 70-100 new ‘likes,’ which we feel is an excellent return on that investment.  

However, once a person likes your page, if they do not interact with your content (liking/sharing posts, mentioning your page, etc.), they become less and less likely to be shown your content on their timeline based on Facebook’s timeline setting. Therefore, it is absolutely critical to post interesting, engaging, relevant content that your viewers will find meaningful and useful to them. Generally, we have found the greater the range in terms of variety, the more results we get in terms of interaction. Human interest stories (ESPECIALLY those involving animals) will consistently surprise you with its reach capability. As an example, one of our supervisors posted this photo of Officer Joe Giudice with a found dog, and the total views climbed to nearly 100,000 very quickly:

As an added bonus, the response to this photo led us to nearly 75 additional page likes – around as many as we usually obtain with paid ads. With the success of this photo, we began posting photos of found animals as a matter of procedure, and this practice has led not only to an astounding amount of good will, but has also reunited several families with their pets (and secured many new likes for our page!).

Overall, I would certainly not discourage Facebook page managers from utilizing targeted ads – however, it is crucial to remember that the best pages and highest activity levels are driven by quality of content.  Have you had experiences with ads or the effect of content to share?  Post them in the comments below.

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    About This Blog

    So you have found, or perhaps stumbled upon, The Social Media Beat, the blog for the IACP Center for Social Media Web site. The Social Media Beat is about three things: social media, law enforcement, and perspective. Here you will find a fresh outlook on the issues that are affecting law enforcement agencies and their personnel when it comes to social media.

    Social media is taking the world by storm. Social networks, blogs, photo and video sharing sites, and virtual communities are changing the way people live, work, and play. These tools present unique opportunities as well as challenges to the law enforcement community.  The Social Media Beat brings together a team of bloggers who will speak directly to you about hot topics and current issues.

    Bloggers include IACP staff and practitioners in the field who can provide a unique front-line perspective. Our team cares about social media and wants to ensure that law enforcement across the country are knowledgeable and well-equipped to incorporate this technology.

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    About the Authors

    Dionne Waugh

    Dionne Waugh is the Digital Communications Manager for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, which is the largest, full-service sheriff’s office in the state of Colorado. Prior to that, she spent more than six years creating and leading the Richmond, Virginia, Police Department’s social media efforts, which led to international acclaim and recognition.

    She has spoken about law enforcement and social media at more than a dozen conferences across the country in addition to four IACP annual conferences. Waugh is a former newspaper reporter who wrote about crime, police, and the court system for several years. That experience and an ingrained curiosity for what makes people tick has fueled her desire to improve communication between people. Follow Dionne on Twitter @JeffCoSheriffCo.

    IACP Center for Social Media

    IACP's Center for Social Media serves as a clearinghouse of information and no-cost resources to help law enforcement personnel to develop or enhance their agency's use of social media and integrate Web 2.0 tools into agency operations. The Center is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

    Leon Robertson

    Officer Leon Robertson is the Social Media Coordinator for the Hampton Police Division. Robertson has developed internationally recognized public safety messages, including the Jingle Bells “Holiday Safety Remix” in December 2013. He has extensive experience in graphic design, video & audio production, and managing various social media platforms. You can follow Officer Robertson’s efforts with the Hampton Police Division on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Tracy Phillips

    Tracy is a Senior Project Specialist with the IACP. She is responsible for managing the day-to-day operation of the Web site and coordinating the site's social networking plan. In addition, Ms. Phillips provides writing, editorial, and technical assistance on a variety of association projects and activities, including police management studies, job analyses, executives searches, federal grants, and various research projects and proposals. She has more than 10 years of experience in state and local government, including work as a management analyst, performance auditor, and crime analyst. Ms. Phillips holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Georgia and a bachelor's from Clemson University.

    Want to hear more from Tracy Phillips? Follow her and the Discover Policing team on TwitterFacebook, and on the Inside Discover Policing blog. You can also network with other police recruitment professionals in the Law Enforcement Recruitment LinkedIn group.

    Zach Perron

    Lieutenant Zach Perron is the public affairs manager for the Palo Alto (CA) Police Department. Zach was a 2014 visiting fellow at the IACP in the Center for Social Media. He serves on the steering committee for the Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (BALESMG), and is a member of the US. Department of Homeland Security's Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG). He holds a bachelor's degree in American Studies from Stanford University and is now pursuing a graduate education at the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Homeland Defense and Security in Monterey, California.  You can follow him on Twitter: @zpPAPD.

    Dave Norris

    Sergeant Dave Norris is a 21 year veteran of the City of San Mateo Police Department. He has worked in a number of positions including Juvenile Detective, Field Training Officer, Narcotics Detective, and Patrol Supervisor. Dave is currently assigned to Community and Media Relations and oversees day-to-day functions that involve the relationship between the police, the community, and the media. Dave is dedicated to the increase of community engagement through the use of social media. Under his management, San Mateo PD's direct subscribers to community alerts and public safety messaging has grown from several hundred to over 22,000.

    Chris Hsiung

    Captain Chris Hsiung commands the Field Operations Division at the Mountain View Police Department in California. Through the department Community Action and Information Unit (CAIU), he manages strategy, community engagement, and growth through the police department social media channels. Chris has been serving the Mountain View community for over 19 years and has held a variety of assignments within MVPD. These include detective assignments in Property Crimes, Person Crimes, and High Tech Crimes as well as collateral assignments on SWAT and the Field Evidence Team. He also serves on the planning committee for the Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (BALESMG). You can follow him on Twitter @chMtnViewPD.

    Lynn Hightower

    Lynn is the Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the Boise Police Department and has served in that role since October, 2003. Lynn also serves at the PIO for the Boise Fire Department. Lynn authors and manages the social media outreach for Boise Police and often acts as media spokesperson. She advises officers from patrol to command staff on media and public communications skills. Lynn joined the Boise Police Department after 17 years as a television reporter, producer, anchor, and news director. Lynn regularly instructs new officers at the Boise Police Academy and has given media and public communications presentations to dozens of federal, state, and local emergency responder agencies. Follow Lynn and Boise Police on Twitter @BoisePD.

    Billy Grogan

    Billy Grogan is the Chief of Police for the Dunwoody Police Department in Georgia. Chief Grogan was hired on December 17, 2008, after serving 28 years with the Marietta, Georgia, Police Department, to start a brand new department. On April 1, 2009, the Dunwoody Police Department began operations with 40 sworn officers and eight civilians providing police services to the 47,000+ residents of the City of Dunwoody. Chief Grogan embraced the use of social media from day one of operations. The Dunwoody Police Department began using Twitter the first day and has added Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Vine to their arsenal since then as effective tools to market their department and engage their community. Chief Grogan has written about the benefits of law enforcements use of social media, participated in several social media focus groups and lectured at the IACP, Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, COPS Conference, and many other venues. Follow Chief Grogan on Twitter @ChiefGrogan and the Dunwoody Police Department @DunwoodyPolice.

    Mark Economou

    Mark Economou is the Public Information Officer for the Boca Raton Police Department in Boca Raton, Florida. His media and public relations background spans nearly 20 years. Spending nearly 15 years in radio and television news, Economou held many positions from assignment editor, reporter, anchor, and executive editor. After that, he served as the Director of Media Relations for Cote & D'Ambrosio, a Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising firm in Wickford, RI. He then served as head of Media Relations for Citizens Bank of Rhode Island, the 9th largest bank in the United States. Follow Mark on Twitter @BocaPolice.

    Frank Domizio

    Corporal Frank Domizio has been with the Philadelphia Police Department since 1997. He is currently assigned to the FBI’s Regional Computer Forensics Lab as a Forensic Examiner. Previously he was assigned to the Department's Office of Media Relations and Public Affairs where he was the Social and Digital Media Manager. Frank has spoke at several industry conferences and major universities on the topics of social media and content strategy.

    Tim Burrows

    Tim Burrows was a sworn police officer for 25 years with experience in front line operations, primary response, traffic, detective operations, and supervision. He has training in a broad spectrum of policing responsibilities including IMS, Emergency Management, computer assisted technology investigations, leadership, community policing, and crisis communications. Tim left policing but has remained involved through consulting with law enforcement on the advancement of communications and social media. Tim runs #CopChat on Wednesday nights at 9pm ET, to allow police and community members to connect and break down barriers. To learn more about him you can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook or click here to contact him

    Guest Blogger

    The Social Media Beat periodically features guest bloggers who share their perspective on the topic of social media and law enforcement. These individuals are law enforcement professionals; sworn and civilian personnel from agencies of all types and sizes throughout the world. If you are interested in guest blogging, please send your request to All bloggers must be affiliated with a law enforcement agency or educational institution. We cannot accept blog entries from vendors or others working in a for-profit capacity.

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