As many of you know there is this crazy mircoblog platform called Twitter, which mystifies many on how or why to use this communication platform. Simple answer is because millions of people are using Twitter and the numbers are increasing everyday. If you have not noticed there is a cultural communication change occurring and you don't want to be the last one to "get it." Police have a huge communication opportunity by getting involved in social media and Twitter is one of the first social media tools they should be using and here are 5 reasons why.
1) Twitter is FREE- There is no cost to establish a Twitter account and begin Tweeting other than the labor hours. A lot of people say well this will take away from other duties officers should be doing, I say "bullcrap." When computers came out I am sure some "old timer" had the same argument, that using a computer is a "fad" and real police work is writing a report. Using Twitter as a communication tool probably has the same angst to many current "old timers" or at least people with no vision.
2) Communicate to your citizens- If you can meet your citizens on their level, where they are communicating then you are able to get your message out. Think about this. How do police usually communicate, other than bull horns at rowdy riot's? Police either communicate in person, by television, or through the newspaper. There is reverse 911, but I have not received a call yet, still waiting. There is a distinct advantage to communicating to citizens on Twitter. Your message gets out and it's real time. Let that last point sink in a little. How often do police communicate in real time other than when you get pulled over, almost never.
3) Easy To Use- At this point there are a whole bunch of YouTube videos, FREE webinars, and other Twitter "how to" resources available that there is almost no excuse not to figure out how to use Twitter. Yes you must be careful on how you communicate, but police Tweeting information on the web is no different from them talking to someone in person. Twitter is not rocket science and staying away from this social media tool because of lack of understanding is a "cop out" sorry for the pun.
4) Reach- Police should be following everyone and anyone. The nonsense that police have to be worried who they follow on Twitter is just that, non-sense. The more people the police can get their message out to the better, bottom line. Some may not agree, but this is common sense. I suggest police use Twello a directed Twitter search tool that can help police target followers based on geography, city name, etc. I am doing this with the USA Crusader because our target market is in Tampa, Florida. The more people police can get their message out to the more chance that message can go viral and reach even more people.
5) Makes the Police real people- By the police communicating with citizens on Twitter there occurs a peeling away of sorts of layers and years of non-communication. Most people never talk with a police officer except when they get pulled over as already mentioned. When police communicate, in back and forth communication they form bonds with whoever they are communicating with. They become more than a scary gun toting law officer. They are seen as more human and compassionate. There is a better understanding of who the police are and what they are trying to accomplish. They are able to get their message out, which after all is really what the point is.
Police have a a great FREE communication tool available to them in Twitter. This tool allows them to meet their citizens and others in a more personal two way communication platform, which is the bedrock of social media.