Social Media for Texas Crime Stoppers
Having a strong online presence is especially important for crime stoppers programs to increase awareness of the program and its mission and purpose.
Engage and Connect
Social media networks are the perfect platform to engage and connect with your followers and supporters, whether it be your local law enforcement agencies, board members, volunteer members, media, donors, and like-minded community groups (i.e. churches, Rotary Club, schools, etc.) Using social media is a way to see who is out there, what they are interested in, and how and why your mission matters to them. “Listening” is sometimes more important than “talking” on social media. For example, I discovered on Twitter that Round Rock PD has a Public Safety Day and found contact information on how Texas Crime Stoppers could participate. Secondly, the Domestic Violence Coalition of Austin reached out to Texas Crime Stoppers to invite us to a balloon release at the Capitol.
Gone are the days of phone books and encyclopedias. If someone wants to know about you or your organization, they will go online. Most people will turn to your website in order to find out more about your program. If you attended Jason Spencer’s website session, I’m sure you learned that your website is THE HUB of your organization’s information. Your social media should drive people to your website to learn more, and your website should drive people to social media to connect. Be sure to include a link to your website on your social media networks, and include icons and links on your website to your social media pages.
The more shareable content you post, the more people will see what your crime stoppers program is doing, and the more likely they will share with their audience. This increases awareness of your program and can increase followers. Social media networks thrive off of shareable content and build momentum for your organization. Think about how many times you have watched a video or read an article because you clicked on a link someone shared on social media. This is the same concept of videos going viral on YouTube reaching millions of hits.
I posted this picture announcing that the officers from A&E’s hit reality show, Bordertown: Laredo, will be speaking on Friday morning at this year’s conference. This post received more likes, shares, and people reached than any other post leading to 19 new page likes in two days.
An example on a much larger scale is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which raised more than $70 million in the matter of weeks. There were several factors that made this successful and shareable:
- Direct call to action from someone challenging you
- Time sensitivity – you had 24 hours
- Simplicity and hilarity made it easy to share
Having the right amount of digital influence will boost your presence in the public eye. Identify people in your community with a large online following that advocate for your cause. This could be your sheriff, mayor, judge, commissioner, high school football coach, etc. Ask them to promote you to their audiences to extend your reach.
Have your friends and supporters link back to your site to boost your search engine optimization (aka how you show up in search engines).
Link to any press coverage your organization has received regarding news and events. Follow and friend local journalist and reporters so that they can report more information on you.
Establishing roles within your organization
Choose one person to act as your social media guru. Have people email content to him or her. This person should have an interest in social media and make it a part of their day. Make a backup social media person so primary person can take a break if need be.
Create a social media policy
Establish guidelines. Will you delete posts if someone says something inappropriate, or will you correct them by replying to their comment? How will you decide what content to post?
Social Media Definitions
We understand that the Social Media world uses their own language and that it can be hard to keep up sometimes! Here are a few of the commonly used terms for your reference
- Hashtag – word or phrase preceded by “#” to show what tweet is related to. Used to track data. Ex. #throwbackthursday
- Cloud – internet based computing for centralized data storage and services.
- Meme – used to describe a thought, idea, joke, or concept to be shared online. Typically an image with text.
- News feed – home page of users’ accounts where you can see latest updates of friends.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – process of improving traffic to website from search engine through key words.
- Webinar – interactive seminar conducted online.
Website: The importance of having an online presence and maintaining your platform
It’s 2017 and we live in an age where the success of any company depends on its ability to establish a significant online presence. Did you know that there are approximately 1 billion websites on the World Wide Web? In a culture where online traffic can determine an organizations efficiency and effectiveness, I want to take a moment to share with you why it is important that every Texas Crime Stoppers organization has a website.
First, let’s talk about connectivity. A website will help your local crime stoppers organization connect with your potential tipsters, donors and community partners. Our tipsters are no longer consulting the yellow pages to find out where they can submit information. Today, an online search is the instinctual tool for finding what you are looking for. Therein lies a gap in connectivity and a website is the necessary remedy. If a tipster conducts an online search you want to be one of, if not the first, website to populate.
Having a website is the first step. The most important responsibility is keeping it up to date. Even a basic website is effective as long as it is current! This platform is a way for you to connect with a vast audience and is an outlet for sharing who you are, what you do, who you service, and how your website visitors can get involved. Whether involved means submitting a tip, making a donation or working with you at a local level to support your organization, this website is a central location where these entities can gather information about your organization and interact with you. In addition, by having a web presence you are diversifying your outreach strategy and connecting with a greater number of potential tipsters.
Now let’s discuss credibility. Having a website legitimizes your Crime Stoppers Organization. But this is only true if you are keeping your website current. What will motivate your site visitors is relevant information which reassures their confidence in your ability to solve crimes and bring safety to the community. The ability to see the impact your organization has in your community will offer incentive in many ways. This will demonstrate to tipsters that tips received help to capture wanted criminals, donors will see that investing in your organization positively impacts the community you serve, and community partners will be eager to assist your cause and get involved in your successes!
Note: Having a website with out of date information does more harm than good. This can actually work against your organization. First impressions are everything and that means online too. If your website has obsolete and out of date information it diminishes your credibility and your audience will question whether the organization is still active.
A common misconception is that your local crime stoppers organization would not benefit from a website or that it’s more work than it’s worth. I understand that taking on the creation of a website and maintaining it can be a daunting task. However, no matter how large or small your organization you can unquestionably benefit from having an online presence. In more rural areas there may not be a media outlet accessible to you. A weekly newspaper is a great tool to feature crimes and publicize your tip line. But once that newspaper hits the recycle bin the access is lost. As previously mentioned, this is where your website comes in to fill the gap. Your tip line becomes accessible 24/7, your featured felons can be viewed at any time of the day or night, and your crime of the week is not only in your local Sunday paper but now easily reached, by anyone in any county or state, every day of the week. And your news-worthy success stories can be published to show the impact you have in your communities. I strongly encourage each board to designate a “website specialist”. This board member should be responsible for weekly updates on your organizations website and as a result keeping you connected to your target audience!
Please see our Nonprofit-Toolkit site for resources to help you build and maintain a great website that will benefit your Organization!