Webinar presenter Corey Yunke answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Finding Your Social Media “Voice.” Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Do you have any tips for which social media platform to use for certain type of posts?
Corey Yunke: So what I look at is Twitter for us, it depends on who your audience is for each one, all of them have different demographics and different purposes and I think this varies from agency to agency. For us, Twitter is our quick and easy, and a lot of our followers are journalists and news affiliates. That’s a great spot for us when we have a press release or where putting up some information that we want to spread quickly, that’s where our news picks up on it. Especially if it is a stay away from this area or some of the hot topic maybe if it is an officer-involved shooting or something we really want to get the word out, press release, coming soon, meet at this corner, we’ll put it on Twitter and that’s kind of our serious tone that sits there. It spreads quickly like wildfire especially if you intentionally go on follow some of your journalists in newspapers, local newspapers and even you don’t find some of the more national side, look at your nearest metropolitan areas we probably start at Chicago newspapers, St. Louis newspapers, The Loop, different areas just to spread it a little bit further. If it’s relevant, if it’s purposeful. We do change our tone a little bit we try not to post, it’s not the best practice to post a blanket message to all of your social media platforms, so we try to keep those unique because those audiences differ. We found Facebook to be a little bit more of our residents and it seems a little bit older than our say Instagram which we haven’t pushed out big, we haven’t posted once and we already have 300 followers and they’re ready to do it, just nervous to post but. That’s just going to be a little bit younger demographic of the mid-20s to mid-30s and a little bit late 30s even. So it can be a little bit more playful and were looking at Instagram as being, almost primarily a storage of community engagement and catching our officers doing good in answering questions and engaging that way. Facebook again is kind of wins more towards those public services and community engagement. So, really I think you start learning that voice from engaging of who’s liking, who’s following, look at those profiles digging in and who are finding value in your post. I think it can vary from agency to agency, platform to platform but take it into your research.
Audience Question: Does your agency also focus on Facebook and Instagram as well?
Corey Yunke: I say in order, Twitter is probably is the easiest and our capacity is low so, in a manner of having those small characters and having the word get out. Facebook get a lot more engagement on the lighter stuff. Instagram is on deck so we will see and I use it personally, I really enjoy Instagram but I’m nervous just it will take a lot more time and the worst thing of not having an Instagram account is having one and just like right now I’m being dormant and not engaging with people. That’s the social media is really about that engagement, the social side of it. Anything else is really RSS feeds. I’m not sure I don’t have it on as far as this, we use nextdoor.com, not sure if that’s used in other places but nextdoor.com is nice because it does put borders on your users and profile that are following you to your local spots, you can keep it local and trust that it is not somebody from outside of Roseville. So, you really use those, each have their own flavor.
Audience Question: How do you convince a sheriff or a chief to use Twitter? The leader may not necessarily see the value of using Twitter, they’re not convinced that their community is actually on there. How could you kind of build that case to help them understand, hey my audience is in so I could also apply this to Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or whoever that might be? How do you convince your chief to get on board like that?
Corey Yunke: I think almost for like anything you’re looking to get purchase or to put time on and expressing that there is some value in it and finding value. I struck out, I think the first 2 times that I started here in 2012 coming from a non-profit and we had a pretty good social media presence in our neighborhood and so I came here and thought I’d shake the world up right away and get an okay by petitioning for it and it took me a while to really show it. I looked at other agencies, it’s what we do in cities, in public sectors, for us we look at our neighboring places, “Hey, they’re doing this and it’s working out well.” I think on the other side of being innovative and what is the risk of doing it beside some time loss. But for Twitter, for law enforcement, I think it’s really good for press releases and moves a lot faster, in my experience it moves faster than Facebook and Instagram and Nextdoor. I think Twitter people are pretty quick, it’s easy and it’s swift. So again, for all of this feel free to contact me offline I’ll put my contact up here for a reason we can talk more and get a little bit more custom, I’m very happy to do that.
Audience Question: Does the tone change from platform to platform, is the tone different versus for Twitter, versus Facebook, versus next door, even though we might be talking about the exact same agency and the exact same core message?
Corey Yunke: Yes. It is really important to know your audience because sometimes they are similar and you’ll have people follow you on all of your platforms but each of them has their own flavors so I consider this. As me, if I were to release an information and to speak with my mother in law, to speak with my sisters 12 years younger than me, to speak with my daughters who are 9 and 10, to speak with a stranger who I do not know, to speak with academia, to speak with recorders, those are all different tones that you would choose so I think it is like what is your purpose on the message, who your intending to reach and those tones do change and feel free to come look at ours and you’ll find some. When I first get into this, I was eager to get Hootsuite for efficiency so I thought, my initial thought is to be able to post, one post and hit the 3 different social media platforms and what I found out quickly is that it doesn’t work that swiftly and you really shouldn’t do that. It’s kind of a bad practice because it’s saying the same blanket message to a bunch of different audiences and they’re going to receive it differently. Thinking about the marketing side or selling a brand or selling an item or widget or something, you have different messages, you have different advertisements in different magazines as far as who your reaching to, maybe it’s the same product but it might look different in a men’s health than a women’s health, s it may look different in you know senior living to a highlights magazine. You still sell the same product to everybody but you do have to cater to those and kind of move those tones. Some of them are humorous and sometimes you establish that, and some are more serious, I don’t goof around that much more in nextdoor.com. A little cheeky but not much whereas I don’t feel as I feel more open to do that on Facebook. I feel a little bit more well received on, a little less stuffy. Twitter loses quickly and the news can get it and you want to be abreast a and little bit more careful with our twitter side so the answer is yes, the tone can change and mainly to whom you are speaking to and how do you anticipate that they’re going to receive it.
Audience Question: Since your agency is smaller than others are you the only social media point of contact that your agency and if so, are you contacted to all hours of the day to post, how does that work?
Corey Yunke: For the last 5 or 6 years, I’ve been the primary, I’d say 95% but we are open for command staff to kind of look for when things happen. Now we’re opening it up just because this is getting bigger and for every post that you have, it isn’t more of an RSS feed and like posting an article and letting it go, we’re encouraging people to kind of engage and you want to engage. So, my inbox is getting bigger and every day you know there are more people questioning it even though we may put an auto-reply that says hey this is monitored 24/7 that is really not acceptable as it used to be. That’s an avenue of calling almost as if someone is not answering your voicemail, “hey I contacted you three times why didn’t you call me back?” As far as 24/7 it can, I tried to limit it as much as I can but if it is something serious I’m going to respond to it. I am an exempt employee so I think it depends on person to person. I like this and I do find the challenge in it and I like responding with people, I’m a chatty person and like having mini relations. I kind of take value in being accessible especially in the agency that never ever closes and is always open. So, now we’re just looking at that and it’s getting to be above the capacity for me to the rest of my job. It used to be about 5% now it’s going to push out to about 35 to 40% of my job. I still find value in it but we are spreading the love a little bit throughout the department but as you do that, that is where you start to lose a little bit of that tone and that voice so it takes some planning.
Audience Question: So you are talking about tone and such, do you ever realize after you post something that you’ve got it wrong and if so how do you reel it back in? Do you just delete the post? Do you try to edit it? And then of course, how does this relate back to the agency, public records, all that kind of stuff? So how do you recover after you’ve gotten it wrong?
Corey Yunke: Great question. It is so much easier when you do it on your personal account because you are not really offending. It’s usually friends or maybe a family might get offended so it’s not really that big of a risk. Representing an agency, I hover over that send, longer than probably than most people do. And when talking with the officers that are kind of like, hey I wish we have a little bit edgier social media presence like Lawrence, Kansas or Wyoming PD. I’m more uncomfortable for that fear of offending somebody, so as far as you know keeping that, I’ve deleted maybe 2 or 3 posts in the last 7 years. I really focus on the front end to not do that and exercise extreme caution. With those post and we save them, we snapshot them, eventually we are going to have to look into some sort of repository, something like ArchiveSocial, something like that, for CYA – cover your agency, that is. To have it a little bit more formal. The nice thing about is things like Hootsuite is kind of manage it, and you can draft, you can draft a normal social media as well but if you ask somebody to review it, or if you think if it is cheeky, or too much or offensive, let it sit. Almost like writing a letter or writing a nasty text to somebody you know. If you do it with all your emotion and you’re fired up at something else or you’re preoccupied it is not the best time to send it. It is just not worth it.
Audience Question: Speaking of that, you talked about having an editor, who is your editor? Do you have most people involved to kind of have that overarching kind of thought processes of this is the wrong time, aren’t we got too much coverage in this certain area, who serves as your counterbalance for that?
Corey Yunke: So really it is, a lot if it’s just me, on an agency like this. Again it was my bright idea to start social media here and it kind of felt like and I’m very glad we did it, it brought value to our agency. Being a community relations coordinator trying to understand the pulse of some of our problems on the national side. It’s primarily me, really, as far as an agency that gets bigger, as far as it is nice to have that checked. I see some structure where they have the city communications, they are the gatekeeper for all of those things that post and they see if it to make sure that it’s not going to disrupt other conversation going on we might not see even as police. There could be somebody else upset about the topic that we don’t know about so there’s definitely some risks in that, and on the flip side when you have all of those in process you lose some speed and definitely it takes a lot more time. I can see us in the next years coming and looking in the future forward and in 5 years in the social media I think, it takes over a lot of journalism. This even more than its going to take a lot more planning, a lot more time and a lot more coordination than kind of just this rogue side of trusting officers. Pretty funny is pretty safe and reliable will let them you know, run with this, then somebody moves or transfers or retires and you have to do it again, can you trust that person. We’re definitely a, I would say, you know we’re tighter than we used to be but we’re still loosey-goosey in some of that aspects so, on our side we’re really focused on the front end and being careful before we hit post and send.
Audience Question: When you have different post people posting, is it okay to allow them to have quite different tones but still appropriate? Or do you really have to have everybody kind of speaking with one tone? How much flexibility do you let individuals have in terms of communicating with your audiences? As again, everybody is still being appropriate. How do you kind of cultivate on that unique voice?
Corey Yunke: It’s the riskiest thing involving public safety and you know there are so many more items at risk and in an agency like this really in most agencies. I don’t think you’re losing too much to it, looking at it like a brand or a marketing, the position of having that and having a super safe and being super offensive and back and forth like that, if you said it that its appropriate, I think it’s okay but I think it does kind of confuse certain people that are attracted to certain post that they decide to follow you based on this. Probably one appreciates a response to the other side, the other voice of it, so that being like a multiple person personalities type of thing. What’s the risk, what’s the cost in a public agency? I don’t think it’s huge but I think if you were looking at optimization and maximization of a voice and a brand and a message, I think that consistency is a good thing to have but the worst thing to have three people doing it and it’s a little bit off – chief’s different than mine, our deputy chief’s different. As far as that they all kind of come and have the same thing and are we losing followers because you know, one voice was off from that? Absolutely not so.
Audience Question: How do you categorize the different types of post that you share? Do you have a major category that you try to cover almost like beats? Are there a certain type of categories of post that you share on a regular basis and what is that mix of what types of post?
Corey Yunke: So for us, it depends on what your purpose on and what’s your mission here so, we are here to as far as police to provide public safety. The city of Roseville our overarching agency for this organization is really here to increase and have the best quality of life for all the residents, visitors, business owners, everybody coming here as far as that, taxpayers, constituents. So I think when you go outside of that realm of that, that’s when you get a little bit floppy into that mission drift and more of a radio DJ or just entertainment, Hollywood personality that they are trying to get some laughs, get some likes. For us, we try to keep a blend of it being, showing your community involvement, definitely, there’s a perception issue with police in law enforcement throughout the country if not the world. So looking to kind of balance it out and show that we are human and we do have value. The other side again expressing the value we have for our community, so showing what we are doing you know, what taxpayers dollars are going towards as far as that safety that we’re providing. It’s really protecting the integrity of our officers, our employees you know, we really try to stay on those kinds of three layers areas in there. And try to balance it, we got too big in the community relation and that’s all like visiting lemonade stands you know, canine photos and all of that, I think the imbalance gets a little too much. You see officers saying, “Hey I was shot at last night, I kept two drunks off the road and you know, we serve 2 warrants, we got two big felons off the street.” There’s that balance that we can push it out there but in the community is alert and aware so oh my gosh, this guy is falling, its apocalypse there right now. So I think the most it’s a balance of it. If you go too far on one, I generally tend to hear some chirping internally. If I go too far on the other side I hear extra noise on the outside, “Hey, we don’t want to advertise Roseville as this horrible place, we are trying to bring businesses in and commerce and visitors and residence and schools and all of that.” So, I think there is that balance that if you go too far I think it naturally you hear about it from people that are concerned but balance is key.
Audience Question: Is there a methodical way of understanding what that balance is, what that tone is, developing that voice that your command or council would acceptable? Or is some of this really only determinable via trial and error?
Corey Yunke: I think trial and error, it’s getting easier for me. I find it often when checking on our roll call or doing a ride along with an officer and they ask those questions from the outside and it comes down to you can feel it once you are doing it long enough. You can start feeling when this is going to be ill-received. I got the luxury in my role of I’m involved in a lot of things outside police as well. Working with talking with council members often and commission members, talking with a lot of people in the community and to the schools, the churches, commerce. I’m always having that idea of who am I going to offend. And a lot of stuff in law enforcement is that, I could have a great plan and have good post and something really cool, and all of a sudden we have a barricaded suspect in an area where I got to switch gears and go right into kind of control, stay away from this area or if you see the SWAT team out there, try to manage expectation and inform. So there are really a lot of this in and you can see that look at the one that I post with Lawrence, Kansas. Some funny stuff, graduation, lighter side and all of a sudden a tornado hits, you got to switch gears and go on to that, you can’t really put that off for something else. So, a lot of it’s responsive, some of it’s proactive, some of it is future thinking and some of it calendar side as far as looking what date it is, that could be the post that goes to it. There’s some method to it and I think the longer you do it you start seeing certain cycles and certain patterns and it gets easier but it is a, I’m not the best subject matter expert for that I will offer that I do fly by the seat of my pants. Be ready to delete, post, delay, schedule something further, erase if it doesn’t fit the mood of that day.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Finding Your Social Media “Voice.”