One of the roaring success stories of social media currently has to be the Australian police presence on Facebook.
Recently we’ve seen the South Australian Police join Facebook, following the lead of police departments in Queensland and New South Wales. While the SA Police seem to be new to proactive social media, they’ve done the job extraordinarily well and are scoring major goals. Consider what its Facebook Page is achieving:
- Asking the community for help – and getting that help. It’s Crimestoppers meets crowdsourcing. SA Police now has a helpful public at its disposal.
- Improving its brand by demonstrating its level of activity. I’ve been amazed by the number of arrests that are posted on the page. Did you imagine your police force sat around behind speed cameras or ate donuts all day? Reading the Facebook Page, now I feel like the taxpayer has an active, effective and hardworking police force.
- Providing a powerful outlet for police messages. Facebook is there whenever the SA Police needs it: it doesn’t need to rely on traditional media to broadcast. And its community can refer to posts later if they’ve forgotten details. They can pass posts onto friends, and access them on their phones. Much better than a TV service announcement that is here and gone in seconds (”how many centimetres tall did they say the suspect was?”)
What a great example to government, community service and community groups in general, of how powerful and supportive social media can be.
As an aside: at the recent Frocomm New Media Summit, a representative of the NSW Police spoke about the Facebook experience there. He said there was some trepidation and expectations of abuse (you can imagine!) But they were surprised. He described that department’s experience on Facebook as “overwhelmingly positive”.
Do you follow any police departments on social media?
Footnote: don’t miss Laurel Papworth’s blog on the same topic!