3 social media lessons from Cleveland Police

The way it handled its online outreach during the Republican National Convention can be a guide for community managers.

Throughout the 2016 Republican National Convention, the Cleveland Division of Police did a stellar job managing the crowds and conflict—all while reinforcing its actions and reassuring citizens on social media.

Tensions ran high among both residents and convention attendees, but in addition to separating and protecting protestors, police also kept people informed online.

Dispelling rumors

These days, breaking stories no longer show up first on the local evening news. They develop online, unfolding in real time on smart phones, tablets and computer screens. That’s especially true when massive throngs of journalists (the RNC gave out 15,000 press credentials for the convention) and visitors descend for a specific event.

Responding quickly and authentically to questions, comments and rumors reassures residents—and people following the event online—that the police are in control of the situation and working to keep everyone safe.

It’s ultimately about transparency. By providing information about arrests, including quantity and cause, Cleveland Police projects an image of a relatively calm city and a police force working hard to keep it that way.

Providing valuable information

Sharing updates via social media is a great way to inform people as situations develop and reassure them that they are in good hands. From road closings to prohibited items, Cleveland Police used social media to communicate valuable information to the masses.

Multiple times, Cleveland Police used its Twitter account to alert followers to demonstrations that formed in the city. Indicating movement and direction gave residents the information needed to avoid those areas and stay safe.

Reading the @CLEpolice Twitter feed feels a bit like listening to a police scanner: It paints an authentic, real-time picture of what’s happening in the city. Regular Periscope sessions offer engaging video content for an additional layer of information.

Shining a positive light on officers

On social media, Cleveland Police’s personality shines through. They use emojis, share photos of unexpected situations and write clever captions.

During the Cavaliers’ championship celebration, a tweet dispelling a rumor of a stolen fire truck set the record straight with a perfectly snarky tone. It has been retweeted more than 18,000 times, received more than 20,000 “likes” and got tons of comments.

Most important, Cleveland Police shows its officers in positive, heartwarming and sometimes even humorous situations. It’s a welcome reminder that the people working to keep the city secure are just like you and me—and that message has never been more important.

Keep up the great work, Cleveland’s Finest.

Ann Mulvany is a senior account executive at FraizerHeiby. A version of this article originally appeared on the agency’s blog.

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