Local Police Department’s Facebook Page Goes Viral

So, this is awesome.

Can you name the three police departments with the largest followings on Facebook? Betcha can’t, unless you’ve been paying close attention to the news or you’re from Northeast Ohio:

1)      New York Police Department: 174,057 Likes
2)      Boston Police Department: 85,292 Likes
3)      Brimfield, OH Police Department: 69,414 Likes

Yep, that’s right. Our neighbor here just a few miles to the northeast, has a police department with Facebook Likes that exceed Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and numerous other large cities with their own TV shows.

Now, let’s put that in perspective of the cities’ populations:

1)      New York, NY: 18,897,109
2)      Boston, MA: 4,181,019
3)      Brimfield, OH: 10,400

How does a police department serving just over 10,000 people get roughly 6 LIKES per resident? (FYI, this is the stuff web marketers’ greatest dreams are made of.)

Brimfield PD

It has a lot to do with Brimfield, Ohio, Police Chief David Oliver. He’s the voice behind BPD’s Facebook page, and his unique spin on altercations/incidents/arrests in Brimfield are downright hysterical. For example, there’s this from a recent incident at The Walmarts:

“Wal-Mart….part 3…..Officers were called back for subjects stealing items, including a large TV. That place is like slow motion looting….Officers arrived to find the subjects loading their car with the stolen items. They saw the officers….and suddenly wanted to be considered for the 2014 Olympic Sprint Team. Officer Sonagere and others gave pursuit on foot….and then it dawned on us that the bad guys forgot their car. When the video picture of a suspect stealing a TV matches his driver’s license photo….we get giddy. We towed his car, have him identified and he will have warrants for his arrest sometime soon.”

Or this one:

“Nice job to Officer Allen (K-9 Drogen) and Officer Dumont for the traffic stop resulting in two arrests and the recovery of bath salts, needles and other drug related items. As usual the arrestees were not indigenous to Brimfield….but did receive a weekend retreat at the bed and breakfast…no spa privileges will be provided.”

Love it. That’s one “B & B” you never want to go to. (As you can see, he never uses actual names or calls people out personally.)

When his department started the page, they had modest goals: get 500 Likes, engage members of the community, keep residents informed. That was 2010. Now they’re at over 63,000 Likes, with fans from all 50 states and 29 countries, and plenty of media attention from major news outlets. Chief Oliver’s straightforward approach with a heavy dose of humor resonates well.

While the likes and interviews and worldwide publicity are pretty awesome, what’s impressive to us as a bunch of web nerds is how the Chief Oliver is doing social “right.” He has a keen understanding of these key tenets of good social media:

  • Find your audience. If you have a B-to-C audience, they’re more likely to be engaged and active on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Know your audience. Post information they’ll find useful, helpful, comical, and sharable.
  • It takes time to do social media right. Chief Oliver says it adds an extra 3 hours to his day. Just like other aspects of your job, when you put effort into your social media strategy, it shows.
  • Keep your page updated. Chief Oliver posts every day, multiple times per day.
  • Never use social media to “shame” people. Although the Chief describes certain crimes that happen in his community, he never uses names or photos. All information posted is public record.
  • Humor is a great tool to keep people coming back for more, and the Chief is one funny dude.
  • Don’t expect to be an overnight sensation. Remember, the Brimfield PD started with a modest goal of 500 Facebook Likes.

It’s exciting to see an organization doing social media right and getting results! We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Chief Oliver and his team — looks as if 100,000 Likes is in their future.

Head over to the Brimfield PD here and give ’em a like:

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