Creating Content Through Current Events

This blog series highlights some of the top Social Media Beat posts from the last couple years. For more information about IACP’s Center for Social Media visit the project webpage. This post was originally published on Wednesday, May 18, 2016.

Guest Blogger: Tim Burrows, Sergeant (ret.), Toronto Police Service

One of the questions I’m asked most by law enforcement is, “What should we be posting about on social media?” It’s a very valid question to which there are so many different answers, which can be dependent on many factors.

What are your agencies goals with using social media? Some questions to be answered first are:

  • Have you identified the audience you are trying to reach? (Please don’t say everyone.)
  • Which platforms are you using?
  • How are you using them?
  • Are you broadcast only or conversational?

Once you’ve identified those answers, we can have a better conversation about what to post. No one can tell you what to post because communities are different, the voices and tone we use and that are acceptable are different and the goals of each agency will differ somewhat.

Content falls into five basic categories.

  1. Content that educates your community
  2. Content that engages your community.
  3. Content that improves the quality of life of your community.
  4. Content that promotes the way your agency and partners in public safety help the community.
  5. Content that helps, never hurts, never embarrasses, and always lifts others up.

Everything you post will fall into one of those categories as a subset of information.

Finding or using other people’s content vs. creating your own content are where all content comes from. Your own can be created from the inspiration you receive from other people’s information or things that are happening.

Case in point:

Recently, a lawsuit launched in Georgia made national headlines in that a Snapchat Filter was being blamed in part for a crash that occurred.

This story was a multi-tiered content strategy for your agency. You could have used this content from another jurisdiction to:

  • Highlight the problems that distracted driving can cause.
  • Talk about the actual laws in your jurisdiction and how this case relates to your laws.
  • Talk about best safety practices for using technology.
  • Speeding
  • Teenage drivers
  • Provide your local media with your talking points about the laws and safety.
  • Call your media to let them know you would like to offer a story about it.
  • Integrated any media coverage back into your social channels for more ‘new’ life.

The content available from one news story like this could provide you content for days by just turning it into a mini campaign for your audience.

Make the content evergreen and you could re-purpose it months later for an awareness campaign.

Content ideas are limitless. Look at the five types of content above and then fill your content bucket based on those categories and you will never be at a loss for, “What to post.”

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