3 social media lessons from police departments’ viral ‘lip sync challenge’

Many law enforcement agencies are racking up thousands or millions of views across online platforms for funny versions of popular songs. Consider these takeaways.

Police lip synch battle

Law enforcement agencies are earning kudos—not for police work, but for their dance moves.

The Norfolk, Virginia Police Department’s version of “Uptown Funk” has earned the organization media coverage—as well as garnering more than 39 million views on Facebook:

It’s one of many videos in a viral lip sync challenge that has been recently spreading across law enforcement agencies.

7 News Miami reported:

It all began in Texas, when the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office shared a video of deputy Alexander Mena singing “Fuiste Mala” by the Kumbia Kings on June 19.Officers who handle social media for the department decided to post Mena’s video, saying he had “a mean lip sync not many can beat.” That prompted other law enforcement agencies to take on the challenge.

Here are three lessons PR and marketing pros of all stripes can take away from this growing trend:

1. Showcase the best of your organization: Your employees.

The Corinth, Texas Police Department racked up more than 11 million views on Facebook for its version of “Party in the U.S.A.”

Some submissions only involved a few members of the organization. The Tulsa, Oklahoma County Sherriff’s Office garnered more than 120,000 views on Twitter for its video of “The Right Stuff” and Boca Raton Police Services Department’s rendition of “Frozen” song “Summer” has more than 40,000 views on Twitter and YouTube:

Even nonprofit organization K9s4Cops got involved with a version of “Who Let the Dogs Out,” which has more than 79,500 views on Twitter:

Whether using a story from a single employee or shooting a video involving an entire department, communicators can boost their engagement and find a plethora of compelling (and sometimes, funny) content within their organizations’ walls.

Don’t forget to turn to your staff when sniffing out your next story.

2. Seek expert guidance.

Several organizations, such as the Martinsville, Indiana, and Crandall, Texas, police departments, enlisted the help of digital media professionals for their videos:

Many communicators know the struggle of a small budget, but having a professional help you shoot or edit videos or create eye-catching infographics can save you time in the long run—and yield a cleaner, more enticing result.

Look for new hires with skills that your current team lacks, and be willing to ask specialists for help on certain tactics and content efforts. Even if you turn to them for advice and training, you can be better off.

3. Get others involved.

A key component to the virality of these lip sync videos are the direct challenges that the law enforcement agencies are issuing other departments. It’s reminiscent of the overwhelming success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014.

When you get others involved—whether that’s asking your followers for input or challenging industry peers—you can exponentially expand your reach.

Here’s how the Norfolk Police Department responded to Seattle Police Department accepting the challenge:

The Norfolk Police Department also recently tagged several celebrity influencers and talk show hosts, including Chrissy Teigen, Ellen Degeneres and Jimmy Fallon:

The second tweet further expands the challenge’s reach by tagging those with large followings, while the first underlines the importance of engagement—even if it’s a competitor. Take, for example, Moon Pie reaching out to Wendy’s on Twitter and grabbing kudos, or Twitch and Blizzard racking up likes for their Twitter back-and-forth.

What do you think of this lip sync battle?

(Image via)


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