The first global law enforcement Twitter day took place in March this year and around nine months later we were doing it all again. Statistics showed there was significant interest in the first one and around 200 officers and police Twitter accounts took part. But what has the second Twitter day today (Friday 1 November 2013) shown us?
One of the most important things is that people like photographs and video of police dogs. It seems that this is a universal situation as the #poltwt timeline has been filled with images of four-legged crimefighters from home and abroad. There is definitely the cute factor and they will attract plenty of retweets.
Surely the police Twitter day has to be about more than just police dogs?
One thing that is clear is the continued level of interest in policing activity whether it is taking place in the UK, USA or any other country. People are fascinated by policing, they want to know more and they want to know it now. About three years ago the corporate Twitter account would receive a few mentions which would probably include a handful of questions. Now the account receives hundreds of mentions each day and within that there are many opportunities to start, develop and continue conversations.
We also know that content is key. I have discussed this at length in previous blogs. People want to have content, lots of it and hopefully of a fairly decent quality. Photographs, videos, audio are all really essential ways to share information, develop entertaining social media accounts and ultimately to establish and maintain connections. The same dull, dreary or boring tweets or posts will only lead to people switching off and hitting the unfollow button.
People are demanding. They want more, more of everything. They want information, they want to know about what is happening in their area, they want to have direct access to police officers. It is clear that they are now used to good customer service and know what it looks like and what it means for any interactions they have. Social media has always been a way of picking up and dealing with poor performance but it is now fast becoming a critical element of supporting good customer service.
Social media becomes a place when emotions are shared. When at the start of the day we tweeted about some minor injuries that a police officer received while on duty we had a huge amount of positive feedback. People want to show their support for police officers who put their lives at risk on a daily basis to keep communities safe. This sort of positive feedback would never have been received in the time before social networks were established. People may have felt they were supportive but there would be no quick and easy way of making that view known.
Finally, when something innovative is attempted it quickly becomes standard mainstream activity. It needs continuous innovation and pushing the boundaries to really be able to make the most of the opportunities. Within this the feedback of followers is essential and always looking to keep one step ahead of the social developments.
Time will tell whether the global law enforcement Twitter day has had any longer term impact on police and the use of social media. Was it worth doing? The evaluation will provide results but on the face of it the thirst for information and knowledge is there alongside a willingness to be part of the solution. All law enforcement agencies and police forces need to do is take advantage of it and start having conversations.