Last week saw the UK’s Greater Manchester Police tweet all 999 switchboard calls throughout a 24 hour period. They are the UK’s first police force to publish a Twitter summary of every incident it is called to deal with. Chief Constable Peter Fahy cited the decline of local press as a reason behind the exercise. He explained only a third of the incidents reported are genuine crimes with two thirds being ‘social work’ concerning alcohol-related disturbances, relationship disputes and mental health issues. So he was turning to Twitter to publicise the reality of police work, to show that British Bobbies are not just truncheon wielding they are caring and sharing too.
Web 2.0 has turned the internet into a kind of world. Twitter is a country. Facebook is a much larger country – more similar in size to Russia or the USA. Within the country of Facebook are smaller regions like counties or cities – groups and gaming communities like Farmville. World of Warcraft (admittedly more ‘gaming’ than ‘social’) even looks like a real place with visually realised people and valuable real estate! Just like the real world (and the playground), people make friends and get into fights.
Social media has changed the way people interact. Online communication has become as easy as talking to someone who is physically next to you and conversations can take place in real time. As online connections increase, many people are seeking ways to get together with their contacts in the real world. As a consequence there has been an enormous rise in the number of ‘tweet-ups’ to help people develop and maintain their relationships as they transition offline.
There is no denying that social media guidelines come into their own for large organisations trying to represent their culture online. But think of the people watching and listening to you. In a world where everyone’s vying for work let’s face it, if engaging the social media savvy employers would be foolish not to research what they’re getting. Can something be learnt from the marketing awareness of busines when creating our personal brands? Here are some social media policy snippets to inspire from the caring but corporate