It's time to start thinking about what you're going to post for the holiday season. As social media managers for law enforcement agencies, we know we are fighting the algorithms of the various social media platforms to get our message heard above the willing-to-pay large retailers and other businesses.
Take some time and create a plan for your social media posts during the holidays. Think it out and share your ideas with other colleagues, family members and friends. I understand if you want to keep what you're going to do a surprise, but at least get some feedback to let you know if you are even "in the ballpark."
2. Pick Your Topic
There are several safety messages you can spread over the holidays, and you might not be able to cover them all. Evaluate your staffing, time budget and the prominent potential issues your community might face during the holidays, such as;
- Do you have low-income families who might use bbq's or ovens for heating their apartments? If so, you might want to post safety messages about this topic.
- Do you have shopping centers or malls where people may leave packages in their vehicles or could be returning to their vehicles during hours of darkness?
- Do you have several businesses which promote drinking? Not only could you mention drinking and driving, but you could post about the over-consumption of alcohol, and public intoxication safety tips and laws.
Free Shipping Day
Christmas Eve and Day
New Years Eve and Day
Once you've got your topics, make sure you schedule them appropriately. Take into account how or when you would potentially see the message. Friday night at 6 or 7 might not be the prime time to post a message about how to safely hang Christmas lights, but it could be the ideal time to post something about DUI's or knowing when to stop drinking.
How did I decide 6 or 7 on a Friday night would be ideal? Think about your habits or friend's habits when they go out on a Friday night. Depending on where you live, people could be sitting in a vehicle with their friends heading to a restaurant or event, and have their heads buried in their phones checking social media. Maybe they've already arrived at the destination, and have ordered and are waiting for their food. Again, they're most likely picking up their phone checking on what they missed in the last 15 seconds.
On the other hand, posting messages about how to safely hang Christmas lights might have more reach if done at 8 am on a Saturday morning, as people prepare to knock out their weekend chores, right?
Although you can have great content planned, make sure to take advantage of anything that spontaneously happens. Whether it's girl scouts delivering Christmas cookies to the police station or an officer providing a meal to someone in need, seize the opportunity. When you do, remember to highlight your community or the thought, as opposed to bringing an over-abundance of attention to your agency or the individual officer.
5. Volunteer Opportunities
If you have an event where people can volunteer to help with something, or your officers and employees are going to volunteer to make someone's holiday season a little better, capitalize on it.
Remember, draw attention to the opportunity or the end-result. For example, if you have an event where people can wrap gifts for not-so-fortunate children, don't necessarily highlight the individuals or officers, but rather, highlight the event and how your community can become involved.
6. Use Video
We've been saying this all year, and it still holds true for the holiday season. Whether you are using a product like Ripl which turns your photos and words into an animated video, or something like Animoto to create great PSA videos with text, photos, and videos, you are sure to captivate your communities attention through the use of video.
Montebello Police Department
Published on November 15, 2016, Sergeant Marc Marty of the Montebello Police Department combines a holiday message for shoppers with the increasingly popular mannequin challenge.
Tampa Police Department
Published on November 21, 2012, this video from the Tampa Police Department is still one of the best ones created. With a catchy tune and some confident officers, they're able to spread the message about locking up your valuables during the shopping season.
7. Be Mindful of Others
Remember, holidays such as Christmas, are not celebrated by everyone. Depending on the demographics of your community, it may be more appropriate to wish "Happy Holidays" as opposed to "Merry Christmas."
8. Online Shopping
We kept this one separate from # 2, as every law enforcement agency should address two specific problems which have been on an uprise nationwide; how to be safe while shopping online and steps to ensure safe and secure package and mail delivery.
We've all dealt with the countless amount of victims who notify our departments each day about how they were scammed out of some cash or their identity was used online to make fraudulent purchases. We have also watched those videos on the evening news of some thief stealing packages off the front porch, or the mail out of the mailbox.
Take this opportunity to educate the public about these crimes. You can locate great information at the following websites:
This blog article by FedEx has some helpful tips on how to keep your packages safe.
Being a safe and secure shopper starts with STOP. THINK. CONNECT.: Take security precautions, think about the consequences of your actions online and enjoy the conveniences of technology with peace of mind while you shop online.
This webpage from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team offers additional resources for online shopping safety.
One of the largest online retailers, Amazon, offers some online scams and phishing information.
Keeping your financial information secure is absolutely essential when buying online. Whether its e-commerce, sending money or buying with debit and credit cards online, trust PayPal's Purchase Protection program to help keep your financial information secure for your PayPal purchases.
9. User Generated Content
Showcase your local business owners and families in the community by having them provide a 10-second video clip with a safety message. Take several of these messages and combine them to make a 1-minute video for use on social media.
In doing this, you will be accomplishing a couple of points:
- Saving time by having the community create the single video clips
- Involving the community in your online efforts
- Educating members of the community from those they trust - their friends and family
10. Research Hashtags
Use a third-party tool like Hashtagify.me to enter a hashtag and find relevant keywords which you may or may not know existed.
Another option is to simply do a search using your particular favored platform for the hashtag, and see what other hashtags are used in similar posts.
What's Your Thoughts?
I've chosen the tips that are at the forefront of my decision making when it comes to holiday content. Of course, there are other great tips from members of our community I would love to share with everyone. Please leave your favorite tips or comments below!