Almost all businesses, whether B2C, B2B or B2G, realize they need to have a presence on social media. But it can be exceedingly difficult to know what to do, how to reach your audience and how to measure success. The thing about social media is, when you’re successful, it does make a difference that is ultimately reflected in your sales. But when you aren’t successful (which can feel like a lot of the time), it’s hard to know what’s going wrong and what needs to change.
Another hurdle: Social media can be a difficult sell when it comes to getting a piece of the marketing budget pie, as social ROI is notoriously difficult to prove. While you can measure clicks, website traffic and engagement for days, it can be virtually impossible to tie any of those metrics to actual sales. Furthermore, many folks associate social media platforms with free accounts and silly distractions, rather than a legitimate business tool. Because of these challenges, should you just give up?
Absolutely not! Even though social media comes with numerous challenges, the benefits do exist—and it doesn’t take an expert to tap into them. At its core, social media is truly about building a community around your business. This can consist of current, loyal customers who advocate for your product or service, as well as potential customers, partners and other industry leaders. Growth in awareness and conversions requires dedication, a clearly defined strategy from the get-go and regular check-ins to determine where your efforts are working.
Now, you may be wondering: Is my audience—police, fire and EMS chiefs; law enforcement and correctional officers; firefighters and EMTs; and other public safety leaders and professionals –really on social media? The answer is plainly yes. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2021, over 70% of U.S. adults use at least one social media platform—and that includes public safety professionals. While they may be more difficult to find and identify, your intended audience does exist and it’s up to you to draw them to your social media community.
The first step is to determine which platforms you want to be on—LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are where most companies start—and create complete, accurate and compelling social media profiles for your business. Most platforms provide an opportunity to include “about” information, an industry and other critical details that tell potential customers what your business is all about. Ensure your branding is consistent with that of your website, print promotions, ads and other marketing materials across social platforms, whether you’re just on one platform or multiple, including using the same version and cropping of the logo. This makes it easy for your audience to find your business and know they’re in the right place.
Expanding Your Reach
Whether you’ve just created your social media profiles or have been managing them for a while, you’ve probably felt discouraged at some point as you attempt to grow your following, reach and engagement. Especially at the beginning, this can be incredibly slow going. While making the switch from completely organic social media outreach to one of the many advertising options can be daunting, paid social media outreach can help you jump-start your community by increasing your following, building brand awareness and providing clearer metrics when it comes to ROI.
Build a community of relevant followers from those who are interested in what your business has to offer and take advantage of established social media communities.
One great way to do this is through partnering with industry leaders or publications to share about your business, product or service with their already developed social media communities. For example, Police1, a trusted law enforcement news source, has over 800,000 followers on Facebook. Whether partnering with Police1 to create a custom content piece for their site to be shared across social media or working with them to develop social media posts that link back to your own website, you can tap into an existing large and relevant audience. The benefit of working with this type of industry influencer is the flexibility of advertising options and price points. When crafting these posts, request that your partners tag your social media profiles to direct people to your social media platforms as well. In this way, you can expand your reach to an audience that is tried and true for your public safety purposes.
This method works well as a jumping off point to establish your business as a market leader and begin the process of building your digital community. As you continue to grow on social media platforms, a continued partnership reaffirms your position and continuously brings your product offerings to the forefront of the key audience’s mind. And even if you aren’t looking to invest in an advertising partnership with other industry leaders due to budget restrictions or other reasons, try engaging with them and forming an organic relationship with their brand’s social platforms.
Maximizing Your Impact
Once you’ve decided to partner with an industry influencer, you must consider how to make the most of the partnership through your own channels and internal efforts. Engage in cross-promotion, promoting the same content, product or service via your platforms and linking back to the same place. Tag your partners’ social media accounts to drive engagement with your social media community, however small, and the community your partners have built. Highlight any custom content pieces on your own website or newsletters to get the most bang for your buck.
So, to recap: How can you maximize the impact of your social media in the public safety industry? Set up complete profiles on social media platforms that work for your business model and where your potential customers can be found. Develop a regular posting cadence. That advice is probably not new to you. But what you may not have heard is how important it is to find the right partners and invest your social media marketing budget in proven engagement metrics. Build a community of relevant followers from those who are interested in what your business has to offer and take advantage of established social media communities. Use your time and budget wisely and see how you can extend the impact of sponsored posts through engaging with your own platforms.