What should your Twitter page look like?
Here is a fun fact for you: Over 80% of Twitter accounts are inactive. Meaning 80% of users signed up, peeked in, couldn’t figure what was going on and left. Indeed Twitter is a confusing place, with lots of noise and irrelevant information. In order to straighten out some of this mess, users tend to judge Twitter accounts very harshly in order to differentiate between the interesting ones and the not-so interesting ones. And as well know – first impressions count. So what are users looking for when they scan your page for a few seconds ?
Follower/Following ratio – Twitter user “popularity” is often measured by the number of followers they have. Not everyone needs to break the 1,000, but if you are a large department that is followed by 24 people, 20 of which are cops, this may send a wrong message. Luckily, police departments tend to have solid following in their communities. What Twitter account operators disregard sometimes is how important it is to also follow others. Departments that follow a very small number of users are sending the message that they are not interested in listening. Sad but true, if you are only following other departments and the local paper, users might think that their voice will not be heard. Follow others, you don’t have to talk to them all, but following will make them know that they are part of the conversation.
Last Tweet – Remember those inactive accounts? Don’t become a statistic. Users are not likely to follow someone who hasn’t Tweeted within the last few days, indicating that this department either doesn’t have enough interesting information, or just fell off the face of the online planet.
Number of Tweets – Don’t take it too far. Remember, Twitter followers are an impatient bunch, and Twitter is not your radio. Blasting messages every few seconds (unless in case of an emergency) will clog up the users feed and encourage him or her to unfollow.
Avatar – Just have one. It should be your Department logo or any other symbol you identify with, but lack of avatar indicates an account that is not active much, operated by people who do not take it too seriously.
@ # and other crazy symbols – Many of you know that @ is used as a way to address a user personally and # (hashtag) is used to mark a Tweet as part of a general conversation. Not using these symbols may imply that you are not engaging with the audience, and are trying to use Twitter as a microphone, not a telephone. Make sure every few Tweets you take the time to reply to another user, Retweet a message you think is important, or participate in an ongoing conversation.
We love following Departments on Twitter. Or favorite one at the very moment is the Toronto PD. Not only to they make use of all the tools and suggestions above, they also personalize their Tweets by adding the initials of the operators. Check them out https://twitter.com/TorontoPolice
Don’t lose followers – verify your Twitter account!
A verified account is one with the stamp of approval by Twitter in the form of a blue check mark, indicated that your account is authentic. It is a badge of approval reserved for politicians, celebrities, large organizations and reality TV stars. More importantly – if there is anyone else using your name – this blue mark will indicate that anyone else is an impostor. And if you don’t believe this is a problem, try following the Twitter handle @NYPD, operated by a young lady in Malaysia. The real finest had to settle for the handle @NYPDnews .
So how do we do it? Unfortunately Twitter does not accept requests from the public and chooses who to verify by scanning the Twittosphere, preferring to verify accounts that have a large follower base. Two simple steps may expedite the process:
1. Surprisingly, the best way to contact Twitter is, well, Twitter. Follow the handle @Verified and Tweet directly to it, asking for verification. Make sure your Twitter account has your website on it, which in turn leads back to your account (this is how Twitter will establish the connection)
2. If you are being impersonated or fear people in your community might be following @SanFranciscoPOPO for example instead of @SFPD , fill out this form https://support.twitter.com/forms/impersonation . It does not guarantee verification, but it will help put you on the Twitter radar and hopefully bump you up to the top of the line.
For more info visit: https://support.twitter.com/articles/119135-faqs-about-verified-accounts
Retweet – The Internet’s High Five
You’ve opened up a Twitter account, maybe even gathered a following of a few hundred people, and update it regularly.
Life can be lonely.
As a police department, if you are not engaging in conversation with your followers and potential followers on Twitter, you aren’t maximizing this tool’s potential. Remember, you are not there just to talk, but listen as well.
A great way to start a conversation is Retweet (or RT) something you like that someone else said. Think of it as overhearing something funny at a party, then running and telling that joke to all your friends while giving the original author credit. It really is a win-win for both sides – the person you are retweeting feels great that you decided to share their wisdom with all your followers, and you get to share content you find interesting without having to come up with it all the time. Another benefit of RTing is that the person you endorse may decide to return the favor by RTing one of your posts. If he or she has many followers, you just got amplified and can expect a few new followers yourself.
WHAT TO RT?
Since you are representing an organization or department, you can’t repeat just anything you find interesting on the internet, like the latest men’s health guide to biceps. Make sure what you are RTing carries the same message as your organization. Remember that depending on what Twitter client your follower uses, he or she may not even notice at first glance that what you are posting is an RT and not an original thought. Make sure you don’t repeat something you wouldn’t have said yourself.
WHO TO RT?
Use retweeting as a way to gain social capital. Remember, by retweeting someone you are basically endorsing his or her opinion on a certain matter. Great accounts to RT are those with a standing in the community – community boards, PTAs and grassroots organizations can provide relevant content that may overlap with police interests. It can be something as simple as RTing “Happy Passover” from your local synagogue or endorsing a local message like “Stay safe on prom night” from the principal of a high school.As we mentioned, a Retweet is like a high five, and if you give it to the right people you may be starting or strengthening an existing offline relationship. Don’t underestimate the power of your department’s Twitter feed – an endorsement by you can be very flattering.
WHEN TO RT?
As often as you like, but make sure not to overdo it and make sure you have a good balance between RT’s and original content. If someone looks at your feed and sees only endorsements, they will think you do not have much to say in the best case, or are a spammer in the worst case.