On this day in 2010 something quite exciting happened. It was a difficult time for the public sector, which is not a surprise. Working for the police was even more challenging with budgets being threatened and job cuts likely. I was set a task to find a way to show the world all the things police officers were dealing with that was unexpected and not crime.
The Chief Constable called me to discuss the options. It was just a few months after the first social media strategy had been outlined to the bosses and agreed. I had a risky idea. Let’s live tweet all the calls that we get in 24 hours. That was how the 24 hour Twitterday happened.
From the early hours of 14th October 2010 until the early hours of 15th October a small team of communication officers working with the call handlers gave a moment by moment look at all the problems, issues and incidents that people contacted about. It had taken three days from the initial conversation to the execution of the tweetathon. Logistics were quickly worked through and staff were briefed and keen to get involved as it was an exciting departure from the normal work.
The result was overwhelming and more than had been expected. It quickly gathered momentum and ended up being the top trending subject on Twitter. There were serious cases, odd stories and lots of times when the police were really not needed but were the default place to call for help. It achieved what was required.
For me that point was a turning point. Before then social media had been new and interesting. It was something to try and to watch. After that day a decade ago you could see the huge benefits social media could have for big organisations. You could see how it could support operational policing and was part of frontline work. The future was there in that moment. Social media was about more than just fun and entertainment, it could be used as a force for good.
Ten years later and despite all the negative aspects of social networking I still feel it can have a huge part to play in helping people and connecting people. During a crisis it can be incredibly valuable ultimately saving lives. So, what did I learn from that moment in 2010?
Be creative, be innovative and sometimes you just need to go with your gut feeling about a good idea. Find the time to really think through what you are doing and start to look ahead at what may be round the corner. I am always grateful for the learning experience that the 24 hour Twitterday gave me.