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Police Twitter experiment destined to #fail?

Is Twitter the right place for Greater Manchester Police to make its point about its massive workload? Not according to Manchester PR Patrick Hussey...

Today’s experiment by the Greater Manchester Police intrigues me. On the one hand I agree with the motivation behind the initiative and its overall goal, which is to shed some light on just how much time is wasted on non-serious crime. With the Government’s Spending Review due in less than a week, the force, like many other public sector bodies across the region, will face some very tough budget decisions over the coming months.

That said I don’t agree with the choice of communications vehicle. The feed set up by Great Manchester Police is nothing more than a glorified RSS feed. One has to question just why the micro-blogging service was chosen, and what if any planning went into the programme around social engagement. Built on the premise that users can contribute and engage with others it seems strange that GMP would use twitter to simply broadcast information like a news wire.

During a period of great austerity one would need to question the wisdom of investing in such an initiative, and certainly the time spent on setting it up. Twitter still reaches a fairly niche audience and alternatives such as Facebook would have allowed for far greater interaction simply on the basis that it has broader appeal. It will be intriguing to see the development and outcome of this initiative and whether it has any notable social impact.

Organisations need to think very carefully about social media engagement and asks themselves who, what, how and when. If you don’t answer these very basic questions you might find yourself investing time and money in the wrong channels.

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