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Branding: How Police Are Using Social Media Better Than Many Companies

Robin Wilson | The Opposite Direction

I was lucky enough to attend a great event on Friday: the Don’t Panic Social Media Conference in Manchester. There were some top speakers including Tom Murphy from Microsoft, Meg Pickard from the Guardian Online and Simon Wakeman from Medway Council.

The highlight though, came from a completely unexpected source: The West Midlands Police [WMP]. [Check out the website even if you don’t live any where near the Midlands].

When Chief Inspector Mark Payne took the stage, there were a few puzzled looks [and probably a few guilty ones too]. Even I thought ‘what are the police going to teach me about social media?’ How I was to eat those mis-chosen thoughts.

Chief Inspector Payne was not only informative, but a brilliant presenter – probably one of the best I have seen [I did see Steve Jobs present and I’d say Mark was the complete opposite: humble, self effacing, funny, open; and probably better]. The WMP is a great case study on how to use social media for serious issues and add a bit of humor too.

Firstly, the YouTube channel is great. It covers real crime scene footage, instructional videos and appeals. CI Payne showed us this footage of a raid in Coventry:

Secondly, they’ve got a Facebook Page here that helps them connect with 16-25 year olds – a group of the community the police have traditionally struggled to talk to. The Page works because it is full of useful and entertaining content – it gives info like contact emails and numbers for urgent and non urgent inquiries [I wish Brixton police had this when I lived there]. It has 1300+ Fans, which is more than many brand pages.

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