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New York Police Visit Twitter School

The NYPD Take To The Tweets

If you’re part of the exclusive club of humans who’ve used the internet for more than twelve seconds, you've probably seen a Twitter campaign backfire. As McDonald’s, Waitrose and Australian airline Qantas can attest, Twitter users can be ruthless in their attempts to undermine an institution’s attempts at goodwill. The results, while devastating for the victim, are usually hilarious examples of the internet at its bitchiest best.

While Twitter backfires are always funny, one of the most memorable has to be the NYPD’s disaster in early 2014. The campaign asked the institution’s followers to post pics of them hanging out with on-the-job police under the hashtag #myNYPD. Predictably, the pictures of cop on person interaction were of a more violent nature than the NYPD had hoped, and what should have been a gallery of smiling civilians turned into an endless supply of violence, victimisation and dog-frisking.
It was the ultimate backfire. What was intended to remind people that New York’s police were human beings instead tarnished them further as a violent organisation of bullies – a stigma from which the police have long attempted to detach themselves.

In an attempt to stop this happening again, NYPD’s social media team insisted that some of the institution’s highest-ranked officials attended Twitter School. And while it sounds like the premise of a fantastically terrible buddy-cop film, the decision may well prove to be a masterstroke.
Social media experts at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan ran the course, which was attended by 16 commanding NYPD officers. On top of a 34-page manual on how to avoid dodgy PR coming from Facebook and Twitter campaigns, the attending officers were brought right back to basics. They were told what exactly Twitter was, how it operated and even how to send a Tweet. Then they got to the hard stuff: avoiding Nigerian scams, not appearing insensitive and not, under any circumstances, accidentally retweeting articles about police brutality.

Officially, the NYPD has 40 Twitter accounts. This number is expected to rise, as each precinct, transit commander and public housing patrol will be expected to be an active Twitter user by the end of this year. Although many of them may initially struggle to come to grips with the service’s nuances, the lessons should help: ‘dad jokes’ are always a winner. As are stories about saving cuddly animals. The correct use of the hashtag is also highly recommended.

Teacher Martha Norrick, who has previously worked under President Obama, gave the attending officers an example of what she considered to be the ideal police Tweet: “Officers just arrested a naked man in the bison paddock in GG Park. The bison seemed unimpressed.” Billed as the ‘perfect kind of funny’, the tweet featured no names, no malice and no actual pictures of the unimpressive naked guy. 

Far better than the images of police brutality linked with their Twitter feed back in April.

Emile is a postgrad from the University of Saint Mark and Saint John. He’s hoping to break into journalism or publishing, and won’t stop blogging until he’s managed it! Follow him @EmileAtSMF.

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/.
New York Police Visit Twitter School Reviewed by Anonymous on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 Rating: 5
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