If you’re interested in Police use of social media, you should definitely follow Mike Downes (@mikedownesmedia) who produces an incredibly useful monthly statistical update on UK police social media accounts.
In his latest post, Mike has focused on the sharp increase in the number of people “Liking” police Facebook posts – where 16 forces had month-on-month growth of over 20%.
I thought I’d do a little analysis and look at exactly what sort of police posts people like.
What do the public like on police Facebook pages
Mike found that three police forces had the highest rate of increase in Facebook “likes” compared to the previous month: Hampshire, Greater Manchester and Strathclyde. I looked at the Facebook pages for these three forces and identified the five most popular posts from each in the month under review. Where more than one post covered the same subject, I aggregated the number of likes and treated them as one post.
In Hampshire (@hantspolice), the post that provoked the most public response was a photo of a police car parked in a disabled bay at MacDonalds which the Constabulary had to explain occurred when an officer went to investigate an offence, not to get a Big Mac and fries.
Tragically, the second most popular post related to an officer who had died on duty in a Road Traffic Accident.
Two of the three other most popular posts related to missing people who had been found and one was a plea for information relating to an assault on a pensioner.
In Greater Manchester (@gmpolice), by far the most popular post had photos of a new police dog’s first day at work.
Interestingly, the second most popular post was also about dogs – in this case, a story about local dog thefts.
As in Hampshire, two of the top five posts related to missing persons with the other a plea for information on the anniversary of an unsolved murder case.
Once we look at the Strathclyde data (now @policescotland), some themes start emerging:
Yet again,we have one post relating to dogs and one to a missing person. The second most popular post related to the amalgamation of all seven Scottish police forces into Police Scotland and the other two were concerned with police successes: the conviction and sentence of murderers and the arrest of sex offenders.
So, what have we learnt from this not-so-scientific mini analysis?
The public seem to respond to some key categories of Facebook post:
- Information pleas and good news about (particularly vulnerable) missing persons – 5 out of these 15 posts.
- Posts relating to animals (in this case all dogs) – 3 out of 15.
- Controversy (amalgamation of Scottish forces, parking in disabled bay) – 2 out of 15.
- Successes – criminals arrested or sentenced, particularly in high profile cases – 2 out of 15.
It is no surprise that UK police forces are such advocates of social media.
Facebook allows them to engage with the public with ease, show a very wide range of their work and quickly spread request for information.
It’s also a great medium for celebrating success.
What does your force usually post on Facebook?
Please contribute via the comments section below.
One major problem I’ve noticed about police Facebook pages are some of the views expressed by members of the public in the comments pages. The most recent Hampshire page about a very recent murderer had arguments and abuse between commenters about whether or not the victim was a drug user and whether drug abusers deserved to die. There has to be a better way of monitoring and controlling what is posted. It is wrong that people are able to leave these sorts of comments particularly having no regard for the victims family feelings.
Thanks for your comment, Dave.
Yes, it’s a tricky line to tread. Police don’t want to censor, nor host abuse. The best outcome is where people self/peer-police and inappropriate comments are crowded out.
It doesn’t always work out so well…
did you know I like cops sheriff and FBI and i like the government and the army and the military and the navy because they help us.