The Law Enforcement Social Media Blog

The authoritative resource for news and information about law enforcement social media. From Facebook and Twitter to YouTube and Nixle, we discuss social media and its use as the ultimate community policing tool.

Twitter's 280 Characters & Emergency Management


You can now tweet 280 characters rather than 140 on Twitter. Twitter claims they first tested this in September of this year, "so every person around the world could express themselves easily in a Tweet." Personally, I think Twitter is trying to stay in the game with the other social media platforms that are often adding new features monthly and weekly. It's often tough to keep up with all the updates and changes being pushed out by each platform.

Twitter is the best tool for Emergency Management on the internet. It allows an agency to provide real-time information about anything that's going on in your area. Everbridge and Nixle are great tools as well, but I see more and more agencies defaulting to Twitter as their real-time Emergency Management tool. Facebook is great to use to push out an initial statement and then push out a final statement or News Release when the incident is over, but it isn't designed to provide your community with minute by minute updates.

If you've ever used Twitter, you know that trying to keep your post under 120 characters was challenging and often required you to be creative in order to do so. Well now that Twitter is allowing its users to double its character count, as an emergency management tool, this is great. If you've ever been involved in an incident where you were tasked with providing the community with real-time updates of an incident on Twitter, you understand the challenges we've had in order to stay on top of things when pushing real-time content as it happens. Not to mention being able to get your message out, in 120 characters or less. With the new 280 character count, we now have a lot more wiggle room when composing a tweet.

Some agencies are often overwhelmed with the various social media platforms so they may only have a presence on Facebook or Instagram. They often shy away from Twitter because they do not "speak" the Twitter language. This is not the case anymore. You should still have an account on Twitter or on any of the other platforms for a couple reasons. First off branding, we teach our students that your department's social media "handle" should be the same across all platforms so that your followers can easily find you. So you should at least secure your "handle" on all of the platforms out there before someone else decides to claim the name. Second, if your department has an account on Twitter and although you may not use it often, I guarantee your community will at least follow you so that when that big incident hits your town, you are able to jump on and provide that real-time info.

If you are not familiar with Twitter and would like learn how to use it for your agency, make sure you are subscribed to our Newsletter! We are currently developing an 8 hour Twitter class for 2018 that will teach you all the ins and outs of the platform.

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