Facebook Best Practice: Bangor, Maine Police Department

"BangorME Downtown". Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BangorME_Downtown.jpg#/media/File:BangorME_Downtown.jpg
BangorME Downtown“. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

This morning, I had a breakfast meeting with a business owner whose business is not on Facebook, and he asked me if I “do Facebook for people.” I told him that I help clients set up their pages and coach them, but it’s best for business owners to manage their own Facebook pages because “I can’t sell your cupcakes like you can.”

He doesn’t sell cupcakes — he paints houses — but he knew exactly what I meant. “I can tell when people hire companies to do Facebook for them,” he said. 

I told him that the reason he’s able to spot the use of third parties is that although they are following rules and checklists, they are not communicating authentically. The contractor looked surprised when I told him, “If you want to see someone who does Facebook well, look up the Bangor, Maine Police Department.” 

Then, this afternoon, an article about the Bangor Maine Police Department showed up in my Facebook feed. A good friend who shares my passion for public sector communications posted it. In fact, I think she is the person who first introduced me to the fabulous Bangor Maine PD Facebook page.

I can’t describe it as well as Lisa Dubino of HuffPost (emphasis mine):

When I checked out the page the next day my first thoughts were the posts were too long, there weren’t always images, they didn’t link to anything, and they all ended with the same line. But none of that mattered because the writer, Sgt. Tim Cotton, tells such a good story I couldn’t stop reading. Now that I’m a fan, I truly look forward to seeing the posts every morning. They have all the elements of what social media should be: Engaging, entertaining, informative, visual, authentic, organic, interactive and consistent.

Sgt. Cotton’s Facebook page is great not because his posts go viral, but because his posts further his organization’s mission by bringing the community closer to the Department. 

Bangor Maine PD gives us a social media checklist measured not in number of characters, but in heart. Again from Dubino:

  1. Engaging
  2. Entertaining
  3. Informative
  4. Visual
  5. Authentic
  6. Organic
  7. Interactive
  8. Consistent

Sgt. Cotton’s gift for storytelling is enviable and quite rare. However, all business owners and public servants have a passion that brought us into our fields. Use that passion to tell us about what you do. I know you can do it because face-to-face, you will probably talk my ear off about it.

I can’t tell anyone what it’s like to bake cupcakes, be a cop, or paint houses  — only you can do that.