Earlier in the year, the New York Police Department was the subject of controversy when they launched the #myNYPD hashtag. The hashtag was created so “fans” of the NYPD could share pictures of their favorite officers. Things quickly spiraled out of control when instead, people took to Twitter to share pictures of police brutality. In addition, in the last few years several NYC police officers have been reprimanded for insensitive remarks made via social media channels. The NYPD needed to do something to deal with their problems on Twitter and elsewhere.
To counter their social mistakes, New York’s Finest are taking steps to improve their image online. According to the New York Post, top NYPD commanders have begun social media training. The object of this training is to encourage officers to “use common sense” when tweeting. Some officers have gotten in trouble for tweeting angry or offensive messages in the heat of the moment. This training aims to discourage that while giving the commanders a better sense of how social media works.
In addition, the NYPD has changed the focus of their Twitter messaging so that it is less focused on hashtag marketing and more on providing information that New York City Residents may find useful. So instead of the NYPD hashtag, New Yorkers will see alerts, crime statistics, and information about wanted posters. Useful content like this should invite less criticism and more engagement for the NYPD.
- Not every organization is the same. Not every brand needs to create inspiring, entertaining content. Sometimes, more pragmatic, useful content is a better use of a brand’s social resources.
- Nip social controversy in the bud before it starts. By providing training on social media for its officers, the NYPD makes social media communication a true, organization wide effort. They help to lessen the chance that someone who is a part of their organization will say something controversial that requires a major PR effort to rectify. This is advice that any organization can take to heart.