Laura Millar
More and more departments are beginning to use social media. It is an amazing tool for building community relationships and quickly sharing information. However, many treat the medium like a megaphone, shouting information into the void.  A good social media strategy is rooted in positive human interaction. With massive populations, it is understandable why departments in major cities like NYC and LA have hundreds of thousands of followers. But how did one Maine police department, in a town of 30,000, become a viral sensation? The winning combination is humor and communication. With a heavy dose of wit, the Bangor ME Police Department is winning Facebook.

Here are 5 tips that we all can learn from the Bangor PD Facebook page.
1.      Use Humor
The Bangor PD first made waves when they introduced “The Duck of Justice” (DOJ), a taxidermy-stuffed duck. Posing on cop cars, local officers, and epically surveying the town at sunset, the DOJ won hearts by being possibly the most ludicrous department mascot of all time. The man behind the social media for Bangor, Sgt. Tim Cotton, told the NY Post that “police officers are a pretty humorous bunch. I want to read something that at least has some humorous undertones - I wouldn’t connect to a page that I didn’t want to read.”


2.      Introduce the Team
Introducing the members of your department puts a face to the flashing lights offering a speeding ticket. Show your team as human; they have interests and quirks and personalities! They are parents, community members, and volunteers. Share that with the public.


3.      Show the Good
Speaking of volunteers - be sure to show examples of your department’s commitment to the community. Whether it is leading the local 5th graders in a D.A.R.E class or participating a charity run, your department does a lot of good. Don’t be modest about it… share it!


4.      Empower the public
Participate in activities like #WantedWednesdays to share outstanding warrants. Social media allows mugshots to be seen by thousands of people in a short amount of time. Share Amber Alerts and surveillance photos to mine the memories of your community.


5.      Share Information
One of the most powerful uses of social media is how instantly information can be shared. Police departments can quickly release Be On The Lookout’s (BOLO’s), Amber Alerts, and road closures to thousands of people instantaneously. If your department is a location rife with wildfires, tornados, or hurricanes, use social media to share information about current threats and ways the public can prevent and protect.


In the end, social media is meant to be just that: a medium for being social. Communicate with your community, and your department will be on the way to a smashing social media presence. 


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