**** Warning: this post contains images depicting violence ****
Inviting the public to share their experiences of your organisation can be a very effective use of social media. But the difference between social media and PR is that you don’t control the conversation, as the New York Police Department discovered when they encouraged people to tag photos using #myNYPD.
Do you have a photo w/ a member of the NYPD? Tweet us & tag it #myNYPD. It may be featured on our Facebook. pic.twitter.com/mE2c3oSmm6
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) April 22, 2014
They were hoping for brand-friendly feel-good images like this one:
@NYPDnews me enjoying Times Square, March 2013. Nice friendly Officers. #myNYPD pic.twitter.com/1UN9fV3KhO
— Lyndsay Simpson (@simpson_lyndsay) April 22, 2014
What they got instead were images like these, showing police violence:
Homeless man is having a seizure. #MyNYPD ease his troubles by shooting his dog http://t.co/hFaFhRQvYs pic.twitter.com/AIZBTvjany
— Up the Rebels (@occbaystreet) April 23, 2014
Police help couple do Yoga with proper form ! #myNYPD pic.twitter.com/kZ7F6MmdwC
— M.Logic (@Nycresistance) April 23, 2014
#mynypd always has their priorities straight! pic.twitter.com/zY1K5Q7KLs
— Layla Sola (@ljsola) April 23, 2014
#MyNYPD There’s something terribly wrong with this photo pic.twitter.com/rQtc4t7hIj
— TheAmerican (@TheAmericanJDM) April 23, 2014
NYPD sharing a few nice words with a peaceful American. #MyNYPD pic.twitter.com/FjiqJ3E0qY
— timeforrealchange (@josefe_r) April 23, 2014
A number of tweets contained images of whistleblower Adrian Schoolcraft, whose actions in reporting apparently institutionalised corruption in NYPD resulted in his involuntary commitment to a psychiatric ward.
NYPD kidnapped #MyNYPD Adrian Schoolcraft and held him involuntarily in a psych ward, because he did the right thing. pic.twitter.com/PfG26kJT2r
— noncompliant (@earth2leo) April 22, 2014
It’s a message for anyone considering doing “PR” on social media. You can’t. (Edit: See comments for an explanation of what I mean by “PR”)
I suspect your last line should be tweaked a bit as it’s a rather broad statement 🙂
My point refers to traditional “Sunday Newspaper” PR, using traditional media, where you take photos of models with your product and spin things however you choose.
Social Media is more effective than traditional PR because the audience is also the media. People trust a recommendation on social media because it comes from people like themselves. If you want people to recommend your friendly police force (or any other type of organisation), you need to actually make it friendly. People won’t just retweet your PR for you.