Emergency Services leading the way on social media

By March 2, 2018

We welcomed our emergency services clients to the snowy Library of Birmingham for a day of inspiring guest speakers, informative debates, and plenty of networking – all in the name of social media.

There were tons of great conversations and learning points that many organisations beyond the emergency services could benefit from. That’s why today’s blog is focused on sharing some of those insights for those who were not able to join us on the day! Rest assured we have many more events in the works for the coming months so hope many more of you will join us soon!

The day kicked off with an insightful presentation from Leicestershire Police who discussed how their Contact Centre established a new ‘Digital Desk’ dedicated to handling social media and email communications channel for non-urgent and urgent contact from the public. Here’s what we learnt:

  • Working in partnership with the Communications team, the Contact Centre started an initial trial by operating their Digital Desk between 8am-5pm. Seeing positive outcomes, they eventually moved to offer full 24/7 availability. If your organisation is in the process of involving the Contact Centre in social media, consider trialing different options.
  • Training is crucial to success on social! One of the reasons Leicestershire have seen success is because they evaluated the skills that the Contact Centre staff had and built a training programme around the new skills that may need to develop — such how to prioritise inbound enqueries or crime reports via social, and how to use the CrowdControlHQ platform.
  • Likewise, the importance of building confidence on social media cannot be overlooked as this makes a huge difference to the response times and quality of responses.
  • 30% of incidents reported on social media are from individuals who said they would not have contacted the police if it wasn’t for their social media presence. This is particularly true of younger generations who feel reluctant or unable to report crimes either face-to-face or via telephone. It is clear that social media has actually complemented traditional channels, rather than replace them.

Second up we heard from Merseyside Police about how they are innovating by using Google surveys on social media to engage with the community. Here’s what we learnt:

  • Get creative — the team have been trialling the use of Google surveys published on social media to ask local communities what they are most concerned about in their area. These results are then used to inform the focus for local policing over the following months. This practice was in response to low engagement with their existing feedback forms on their website and sometimes poor attendance at community meetings. So far, their response rate has increased by thousands, a fantastic result showing how police organisations can start to think outside the box when it comes to social.
  • The opportunity to engage leads to further engagement — a side effect of introducing these surveys on Facebook and Twitter has been that as the public are voting they are more likely to see more of the content the force creates and engage with that too. Its clear that starting two-way conversations can open the door to further engagement as residents see that their concerns and ideas matter.

The afternoon saw a very interesting debate discussing what objectives should be set for social media, and how to measure value or outcomes of using social. Here’s what we learnt:

  • Social media objectives span three levels: corporate objectives, communications objectives, and operational objectives. Most importantly, these should feed into each other as they are all interconnected areas of the organisation and will be vital when it comes to measuring the impact of social across the organisation.
  • Objectives for social are often set backwards — social media is a tool that has become a part of daily life for us all, and in many organisations, Comms teams are being asked to create multiple social profiles, but without proper consideration for the business case and what their social media presence will achieve. Due to this, objectives are often set the wrong way around i.e. we have a tool that we are already using, what do we want to do with it; rather than what do we want to achieve, and then how does social media help us achieve it. Recognising this process can help to take a step back and consider once again whether existing objectives are right and how they fit with the organisation’s wider objectives.

Key takeaways for emergency services social media:

It’s all about community

Although this message is particularly strong in the emergency services, this increasingly applies to the private sector too, where building an audience on social can be the key converting more sales and building market research.

Measuring ROI across the entire organisation

We all know that social media is increasingly becoming the responsibility of the entire organisation rather than just the Comms or Marketing team and as such, to truly get a picture of the ROI, departments must work together to analyse the impact social is having against objectives.

Looking for the value of social media customer service in the wrong places

There is a focus on efficiencies that can be driven from social customer care but are we forgetting the quality of these interactions? This is certainly the case for the police, whose social channels create an approachable platform through which concerns can be raised, rather than seeing it as an alternative to phone or email.

It is clear that there are different social media skills and experiences

Colleagues across the organisation bring their own skills and experience to social media channels, and so involving them in the initiative can create even more value for local audiences who are looking for personable and authentic interactions!

Thank you again to all CrowdControlHQ clients who participated