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Updated 23 May 2018

Police Social Media Analysis

When it comes to social media engagement, businesses and operations can use platforms like Twitter to help them build trust among the people they reach, connect virtually with their communities, and even market themselves or their services. And this can even extend to law enforcement. In fact, local police and sheriff's departments across the country are following suit.
In recent years, some city and state police departments have used social media to fight crime and predict civic infractions. Research shows they may even be able to use these same tools to engage the public better and establish their independent identities within their respective communities.
To learn more, we looked at the Twitter accounts of police departments in the most populated cities across the U.S. Our analysis revealed which departments had the strongest social media presence, best engagement, and most significant potential political impact. Read on as we break down the Twitter presence of America's police.

Social Visibility


By comparing engagement rate, social authority, followers, following per capita, and the total number of posts, we determined the Seattle Police Department had the biggest Twitter presence.
With nearly 510,000 followers and over 22,000 tweets since 2009, the Seattle Police Department (@SeattlePD) manages to combine informative content with community engagement in popular and organic ways. In the past, they've engaged with their followers by hosting Reddit "Ask Me Anything" sessions for the community to participate in and hosted contests where people could win comic books donated by officers.. At the same time, they've also shared traffic updates to help people avoid congested roadways whenever possible. At the time of this writing, the Seattle Police Department had over 4,400 "likes" on Twitter.
Following @SeattlePD, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO), Denver Police Department (@DenverPolice), and Kansas City Police Department (@kcpolice) also had the biggest social media presence on Twitter. Following a history of controversy and internal investigations on charges of corruption, Denver's director of public safety suggests full transparency in his department is the only way forward. For Denver, that includes social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook to provide firsthand access to news and information.



Increased Interaction


Social media engagement, the way brands interact with their followers, is one of the most important ways users build trust with their audiences. By keeping content current and readily available, brands can encourage communication and help customers feel special.
When it came to social media engagement for police departments across the U.S., some connected with their communities stronger than others. By analyzing likes, comments, and retweets, we concluded the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) had the highest engagement rate across all 100 cities. With an engagement rate of 83 percent, @JSOPIO has over 114,000 followers and over 22,000 likes on more than 29,000 tweets since 2009. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has been recognized in the past for regularly managing to incorporate humor into their #LESM (Law Enforcement Social Media). Utilizing jokes or memes to help drive engagement can be tricky, but, when done correctly, it can help build authenticity and trust among followers.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office wasn't the only department to score an above-average rating for engagement, however. The San Francisco Police Department (@SFPD), Fresno Police Department (@FresnoPolice), and Philadelphia Police Department (@PhillyPolice) also ranked among the most engaged accounts. @PhillyPolice earned over 1,300 likes and 440 retweets for a post celebrating the Eagles' victory at the Big Game, but they didn't hesitate to call out fans for acts of celebratory vandalism either.



Commanding Authority


Unlike social engagement, which measures how users interact with tweets, social authority takes a deeper look at twitter audiences and influential content, according to the digital tool Followerwonk. Based on a sliding scale of 1 to 100, social authority measures an account's number of retweets and the timing of those tweets to gauge influence. This tool helps brands find followers likely to help share their message to an even wider base of users.
Across the 100 most populated cities in America and police departments' Twitter presence, no account had more social authority than the New York City Police Department (@NYPDnews). With over 18,000 tweets since 2008 and more than 3,200 likes, the New York City Police Department scored an 82 for social authority. Like other cities, the New York City Police Department balances its content with criminal activity and current events, earning high levels of retweets from followers on both fronts.
Other police accounts with strong Twitter presences included the Philadelphia Police Department (81), Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (80), and Houston Police Department (78).



The Police and Political Influence


While many Twitter accounts associated with the police departments we analyzed kept their content focused on various aspects of the communities in which they operated, there were instances of the police and politics intersecting. Mayoral candidates seeking election (or re-election) occasionally have opinions on how police departments should be managed, and some departments have been directly involved in elections as a result of fraud or illegal behavior.
As we found, there may be a connection between the popularity of certain police Twitter accounts and the political affiliation of the mayors in those cities. Police departments with Republican mayors at the time of our study earned a higher rate of engagement than those with Democratic or Independent mayors.
In contrast, accounts that maintained a higher score for their social authority were more likely to be run by a Democratic mayor than Republican or Independent candidates. While police departments in some cities have come into conflict with their ruling government entities, these politically fueled clashes can also lead to stronger working relationships that benefit the city and local community.



The President and Police Engagement


In 2016, President Donald Trump campaigned on a message of a stronger criminal justice system and increased support for police officers across the country. That theme has continued into his presidency, as "Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community" was among the first items published on Trump's agenda . Despite efforts to reverse what President Trump has referred to as a "war on police," he might not have earned the votes of people most often engaged with their police departments.
According to our analysis of the 100 most populated cities and their police departments, a majority of people who engaged with police accounts with the strongest social media presence voted against Trump. In the case where a majority of followers did vote for Trump, engagement on those police accounts was typically lower. These accounts typically had a lower overall social media presence compared to the accounts followed by people voting against Trump in the 2016 presidential election.



Your Social Media Presence


For businesses, a powerful social media presence can be the difference between success and failure. Leveraging social media to raise awareness, building brand loyalty, and reaching new users can be a quintessential marketing strategy for many. But businesses aren't the only organizations getting on board with these trends. As we found, police departments in some of America's major cities utilize social media to keep their communities informed and have successfully managed to brand themselves in the process. At Twiends, we can help you take advantage of organic social media growth and connect with real users interested in brands like yours. More than helping other people find and follow you on Twitter –we'll give you the tips and tricks you need to grow outside of our services. At Twiends, we're committed to building strong, quality connections between users to help promote a community of discovery. Get your name in our directory today and start growing your social media presence at Twiends.com.

Methodology


We used the 100 most populated cities as defined by the U.S. census and looked for their police departments on Twitter. We then used Followerwonk to get social authority and engagement. Profile information is relative as of Feb. 2, 2018, which is when we used the Twitter API to get publicly available data on each of the police accounts.

Sources



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