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.

The Importance and Strategy of Instagram

The Importance and Strategy of Instagram

One of the interesting things I’ve discovered about social media in the nearly seven years I’ve worked in the law enforcement world is how each platform is completely different from one another in terms of audience, language style as well as how and when it’s used.

Take Instagram for example. It launched in 2010, a full six years after Facebook first appeared on the scene in 2004, and yet it now ranks fourth for most popular social media platform. Though Facebook started out as an app for college kids, Instagram seems to have taken over that demographic and then some with the majority of users being between 16 and 24 years old, according to Digital Information World.

Law enforcement agencies definitely need to be using this platform to reach out to this audience and challenge themselves to use Instagram’s unique way of communicating. We received some decent interactions when I worked at Richmond Police and managed their Instagram, but I have seen a huge return on investment and engagement level on the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Instagram since I started working here this past December.

Based on my experience and some recent conversations with companies who work in social media monitoring, Instagram is the most popular social media network in Jeffco second to Facebook. Personally, I’ve seen far more engagement on Instagram than I have with our Twitter account. Yes, Twitter is the go to place for breaking news and nearly everyone has a Facebook account, but Instagram seems to be the platform of choice for this part of Colorado.

Though the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office had an account before I started, I’ve made it one of my missions to post to it daily. And we’ve had a huge success as a result. We’ve gained nearly 900 new followers in the past eight months, making us one of the most followed law enforcement agencies on Instagram in Colorado, and we receive daily comments from our followers about what we post.

This shows me just how important and popular the platform is and why I should continue to focus on it. From recruitment efforts to education/safety tips to positive stories about our deputies and civilians, our Instagram audience wants to see it all.

Unlike Facebook or Twitter, one of the interesting things I’ve discovered about Instagram is that it’s most used at night and during the weekend. That’s why I tend to post more during those times so I reach my audience. I’ve also researched Instagram-related management apps to help me determine the best ways to use it and have since settled on Iconosquare, which has both a free and paid version.

It has truly been a huge help for me to understand the best ways to use Instagram to reach people. Check out this graph below, for example, which shows me when I’m posting and when my followers are most interactive. That’s why I now mainly post in the evenings and weekends. They also have stats showing your most liked and commented-on posts as well as other helpful analytics.

Instagram stats

If you’re looking to enhance your recruitment efforts, educate your youth and change the conversation about policing today, Instagram is one of the most powerful tools available. 

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