Yesterday we wrapped up the third day of The #LESM Conference. The second last presenter was someone who I believe is one of the sharpest users of wit in the realm of law enforcement social media. Sean Whitcomb of the Seattle Police Department and his team have become experts at the use of wit in their messaging.
York Regional Police have also been a banner example of using wit as well on several occasions. Humor can come in many forms: sarcasm, jokes, innuendo and puns are some of the best ways which will always illicit laughs, memorable moments and sometimes the scorn of people who think it has no place in police communications.
Today, York Regional Police hit another great humor moment in a very Canadian/British way…the use of dry wit. I love this form of humor, which admittedly is an often misunderstood form of comedy.
I will say right off the top…this was great.
I will say second, I would have stayed away from doing this one the way YRP did it. Yes, I know that’s kind of shocking since I used to take pride on doing things like this on a regular basis but I also made sure to vet the person that I was going to “educate”.
The problem isn’t the response…the problem is the amplification.
By starting the response to the person with anything other than the persons Twitter ID, anyone who follows @YRP has the potential to see the message and with nearly 30K followers, that’s potentially a very big audience.
Had the YRP done a simple in line response ( @TwitterID ), then the audience would have been much smaller and the intent would have been seen as a response. Instead, in this case, it seems like it was to bring attention the both the police account and the mis-guided individual.
Well it worked for me. I went to see the individual and his account. The information this Twitter account shares is not something that anyone needs to see. It’s the kind of stuff the Internet can do without, which I why I chose to blur the persons ID from the above image.
Great response…but the alignment was just a touch off. It lends itself to opening up the department for criticism for intentionally trying to embarrass the person and trust me, that person neither cares about embarrassment nor his own public perception. The public perception that could be impacted is that of the police account.
Humor is awesome but it is a skill that needs to be used in a very situational manner, with many impact factors considered. One of the things that the Seattle PD will do is have a team discussion about the use to get a “group think” on what the best thing to do is. That is a great recommendation.
If you are going to use humor as a tool in your social media presence (which I highly encourage), make sure you are strategic and weigh all the possible outcomes.
Seven tips for using response humor.
1.) Consider your audience and the impression that will be left.
2.) Consider the reach of your message and limiting or expanding it.
3.) Never use humor to embarrass anyone intentionally.
4.) Team think responses if they are risky.
5.) Responses that start with a Twitter ID have a much smaller potential audience.
6.) To open the potential audience, reply in line but put a period or any word before the ID.
7.) When in doubt, throw it out.