Law Enforcement on Twitter

It can be difficult for any police department to decide how and when to use social media. Thankfully a comprehensive and informative research report has been developed by Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA.  “Law Enforcement on Twitter: Who’s Tweeting and Whatidentified 923 US state and local law enforcement agencies with Twitter accounts an analyzed how those accounts were being used compared to other social media platforms.

Only 5% of 17,876 Law Enforcement Organizations (LEOs) identified in the United States use Twitter. The 923 LEO Twitter accounts have a total of 330,000 followers, with Boston PD having the highest number at over 20,000. The average for all agencies is around 500 followers.

A majority of LEOs choose not to “follow back” those who are following them, making Twitter a one-way communication channel rather than an engagement channel. Based on analysis of recent tweets from 539 agencies, the majority of communications were regarding general business activities, followed by crime reporting, traffic and weather.

Foster includes some helpful recommendations and Twitter best practices based on his research findings. Of particular interest is the list of suggested hashtags to increase visibility of Tweets. The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. Users place the hashtag symbol # before relevant keywords in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets to show more easily in Twitter Search. Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows all other Tweets in that category.

Download the full report here: http://www.police-writers.com/articles/LawEnforcementonTwitter.pdf

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