California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 18

Content is Key A change in social media strategy helps Mountain View PD build new bridges with the community By Lieutenant Chris Hsiung A solid argument could be made that the Mountain View Police Department serves a community comprising many of the world’s most tech-savvy and connected citizens. The city’s population of 75,000+ residents almost doubles each weekday as commuters from all over the Bay Area arrive here for jobs at various high-tech companies that include Google, LinkedIn, Symantec, VeriSign, Microsoft, and a host of startups. In 2012, MVPD decided to take advantage of social media’s reach and potential to more effectively, and regularly, communicate with the community. Up until then, the department had relied on a traditional community communications model, where social media was an extension of the Press Information Officer’s office. The main content sent through the department’s Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages were press releases and occasional community announcements. In this model, information was being pushed to the public, leaving little opportunity for a meaningful two-way engagement with the community. In the fall of 2012, MVPD changed its social media strategy to focus on providing rich, photo-centric content for the community. The result was a dramatic increase in followers across all social media channels and an outpouring of support and appreciation from the community. The data and metrics are very compelling. In the first six months alone, the new social media strategy has increased MVPD’s followership at remarkable rates: Google+, 58%; Twitter, 44%’ and Facebook, 331%. Even more compelling are the positive feedback, comments and support we hear from the public and how they appreciate learning more about the department and being notified about breaking public safety inciden