Talking Social Media with APCOMM

I had the pleasure of speaking at the Association of Police Communicators (APCOMM) conference for Police Comms team members, talking all things related to social media engagement.  One thing that was very apparent was the desire and need for digital engagement to support and underpin their communications.

Budgets in all organisations are under pressure, particularly those in the public sector such as Police forces.  This means they have to make the very best of their limited resources.  This could be a silver lining of course and act as a catalyst for each force to change the way they work for the better.

The various forces across the UK set their own individual communications strategies and they are all equally stretched in terms of resource. So the question then becomes ‘how can social media outreach help them achieve their end goals?’

Ultimately it’s all about equipping people with the right tools to be digital in a mobile way – not being tied to an office desk.  Part of the answer – smartphones, tablets, phablets, laptops with full connectivity to the corporate network.

As we help forces achieve digital communications in a mobile way, it enables forces to talk to the public about a variety of themes in real-time – whenever an issue is breaking.  Social media is one brilliant way to do this.  It doesn’t take huge budgets to listen to members of public and engage in a social media space. I took the audience through effective governance, processes and the overall approach while featuring a number of forces doing brilliant work in this space.

It was great to see such an engrossed and engaged audience who had a desire to explore and make an impact in social media, and who wanted to keep the public up to date on issues that were of particular interest.  I’m sure we’ll see continue to see forces adopt social media to communicate real-time information, manage potential crises and calm public concerns.

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Paul’s top tips for engagement

  • Make sure your tone of voice is human and consistent to the organisation.  The best way to connect with your audience is to write messages that you’d have in an informal setting.  Think about as if you are having a chat over a coffee or dinner
  • Make sure you’ve got a response process for crises in Social Media and that the process is plugged into the heart of the organisation.  You’ll typically see an impact in Social Media first so your monitoring and engagement teams are perfectly set up to alert your business.  Make sure you know who will post what message to update your audience, who signs the message off and make sure the message is aligned with all comms channels
  • Monitor for conversations about your organisation that don’t include your channel handles. More and more conversations happen without including your @ handle and that audience will still expect you to see and engage
  • Budgets are tight but use suitable tooling for organisation social monitoring and engagement.  The benefits are endless – you can schedule your social content to go out, prioritise sensitive messages for early handling, and have an audit log of who’s posting what and much, much more
  • Make sure that messages which are shared internally, given to the media, to government or used in Social are all aligned.  Aside from this being common sense, it’ll actually save you a lot of difficult conversations if you decide to segment your messaging by different channels.  If the public receive contradictory information from two different channels, they will more than likely call it out!

About Paul Hughes:  Paul heads up the award winning Social Media Engagement team for Telefónica in the UK. His role is to define and deliver the social media engagement strategy for the O2 UK brand. That responsibility stretches from general brand engagement to reputation management and customer service in social. Yes, all this while keeping O2’s core, fun brand ethos throughout. He’s driven award wins such as the inaugural Twitter Flock award for outstanding use of the Twitter platform, PRCA Crisis and Issues Management best in-house team 2013 and many more.