Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Business Social Media Sites for Public Safety and Law Enforcement Personnel

This series of blog entries discusses the different types of social media, and how those can be employed in the public safety and law enforcement arenas. Today we're on to the Business Category. Business social media sites include Plaxo, Ryze, Biznik, Cofoundr E.Factor, Ecademy, Networking for Professionals and probably the most well-known, LinkedIn.These sites are all communities that are used for networking, address book management, business communications, and knowledge sharing. LinkedIn also has a question and answer section where “connections” (rather than “friends”) share information on particular topics.

Many police departments use LinkedIn for its business networking capabilities. For example, the Las Vegas Police Department’s LinkedIn page has 209 followers, and lists officer profiles, job opportunities, and crime statistics on the site. LinkedIn can also be linked with Twitter, so that a user can cross-post to both services in order to reach a wider audience and keep its updates synced.

Ning is another site, in which communities are created around specific interests, job, etc. Loopthing is similar to LinkedIn, and lists company profiles and contact information. Xing is a networking site, most popular in Europe, where it has over 7 million users.

Any of these sites may be further categorized. For instance an online group for officers to ask questions about body worn video or mug shot capture systems would be a helpful and supportive community. Here they could stay informed, or share ideas with other dealing with the same types of issues and situations. The social media reach is endless – with more and more sites being created, one could easily spend his or her entire workweek updating sites. 

This is where a site like Posterous saves a huge amount of time. Posterous manages all of a department’s social media sites from a central hub. Officers can link all of their sites together, and one post simultaneously updates all of their accounts. This would be extremely helpful when time is of the essence, and you were, for instance, sending out information on a crime that just took place. Immediately, all of your sites would communicate the information to all users at once.

Sites like Posterous are helping non-social media experts become more familiar and comfortable with this “new” communication tool. And making them more useful is helpful, especially for such industries like law enforcement and crime prevention, where communicating with the public is so crucial. 

Next: Community Social Media Sites, and how they are best employed for the law enforcement and public safety industries.

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