By: Riley Carlton
The New York Police Department turned to Twitter in hopes of sparking conversation with their followers using the hashtag #myNYPD. The call to action directed followers to tweet any pictures they had with NYPD officers using the hashtag, for the chance to be featured on the department’s Facebook. Conversation became overwhelmingly negative when members of the “Twittosphere” abused the hashtag to post pictures of police brutality and misconduct.
The NYPD was simply trying to make an attempt to become more active on social media, and be able to communicate with citizens on a platform that provides an open and public exchange of conversation.
Despite the unsuspected negative repercussions of the hashtag campaign, a New York police spokeswoman spoke out to defend the campaign.
“The NYPD is creating new ways to communicate effectively with the community. Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city,” said Deputy Chief Kim Y. Royster.
#myNYPD became the top Twitter hashtag by the end of the day, replacing #HappyEarthDay. According the the Daily News, over 70,000 people posted negative comments and pictures.
Not only was the NYPD getting trashed during the campaign, but people also brought other police departments into the conversation. The tags #MyLAPD, #MyCPD and #MyAPD were among those trending the next morning.
Indeed, not all tweets were negative. Some people tweeted pictures with officers smiling, and others even defended the NYPD during the backlash.
This hashtag campaign became a devastating social fail for the NYPD as it negatively impacted their “brand’s” reputation. When considering a social media campaign, it is important the brand carefully considers what the public’s reaction will be and what the public’s perception of the brand already is.
The NYPD had very positive and strong internal attitudes about their department. However, when considering recent tragedies such as Ferguson, the timeliness of this campaign was awful to get a positive reaction out of the public.
For this campaign to have been a social win, the NYPD should have considered a different social media platform, where people don’t have so much freedom to criticize. If the department would like to pursue a new social media campaign, they could try a live periscope session showcasing some type of daily routine the officers perform. They then could promote the periscope session on their Twitter, which would still give them the opportunity to have the “open ended conversation” with the public. The department’s PR team should also be prepared to combat the negative tweets that may come during the campaign.
The NYPD must also realize that they’re a brand whom will be both loved and hated by the public. It is up to them to utilize and communicate the NYPD’s mission statement and overall goal in response to negative criticism from the public.
Although this campaign was a major social fail, the NYPD says they will continue trying to become more active on social media. How does the saying go? There is no such thing as bad publicity? I guess you can’t deny the NYPD certainly got their name out during this campaign.