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4 Facebook Audience Engagement Lessons Learned from a Police Department

Facebook is undoubtedly one of the most powerful engagement tools being used on the Internet these days, and if you aren't leveraging Facebook's tools for your own association, you run the risk of losing out on potential membership enrollment. Also, as more and more people, both in their personal and professional lives, rely on Facebook and other social media for interaction with professional organizations and associations, it's almost expected that a business or association will use social media to communicate. However, once you decide to take the Facebook plunge, there are a few things you'll need to keep in mind, including the following lessons learned by the Mesa, Arizona Police Department:

1. Give Useful Information That Paints Your Association in the Best Light

For the Mesa PD, its Facebook page posted mainly crime blotter information, giving visitors the impression that the area was full of crime. To remedy this, the department began posting more personal content, including video segments in which the police chief would discuss community policing matters. As an association, try to find relevant and useful information to post on Facebook instead of being self-serving.

Audience engagement
Employing eye-catching graphics on a regular basis is a small part of an overall strategy to increase engagement through social media.

2. Outdated Graphics Are a Problem

Another issue the Mesa PD ran into was its use of outdated graphics that were entirely forgettable. To turn things around, the department updated its graphics and began posting and changing profile pictures and banners on a regular basis. Remember, there are many people out there who engage visually, either through graphics or video, so utilize your best content to capture those visitors' attention.

3. Answer Posts in a Reasonable Amount of Time

Because the Mesa PD didn't have much experience in social media, or a dedicated social media team, there were many comments and complaints going unanswered on the Department's Facebook page. When this occurs, it can seem as though no one in the organization cares or that the organization is sloppy. After recognizing this, the department began paying more attention to questions and comments and responding accordingly. For your association or organization, either hire a dedicated social media team to handle such situations or set aside time each day, preferably in the afternoon or evening, to check on your Facebook page.

4. Clean Things Up

While the Mesa PD is great about preventing crime, it wasn't so good about cleaning up its Facebook page. As can be expected on the Internet, social media posts often come complete with vulgar language, threats, spam, and other bad behavior. Because no one was really watching the Department's Facebook page, people were running amok, posting all kinds of offensive material. This can be a deterrent when you're trying to encourage dialogue, especially when you're a professional organization. Upon realizing the problem, the social media team for the Mesa PD began monitoring posts and replies to posts to weed out bad language and other Internet no-nos. Keep this in mind when you start a Facebook page for your association or organization.

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