Evolving use of social media in Indian administration

“Social media is a power to police. They should use it to communicate with people,” said our Home Minister Rajnath Singh at a recent event. Little did Singh know that Mumbai Police isn’t only leveraging social media, but setting an example with chuckle-some, power packed content.

Mumbai Police’s Twitter rendezvous dealing with social evils through 140 characters epigrammatic messages drove cyber policing north in a matter of days. It isn’t about mere language or constructive hashtags; brand like approach towards advocating awareness was what clicked.

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Handled by Trivone Digital, Mumbai Police’s Twitter feed proffers an array of content. In addition, to quirky awareness tweets are announcements, CRM in the form of helping citizens in crisis, and engagement through Twitter chats (and hopefully more such initiatives in the future).

“Mumbai Police came on social media platform to listen to the mumbaikars and spread awareness regarding issues that matter the most. Analysis and study of the platform was conducted for few months and then we finally decided to launch it. As we noticed the reach of our pun-oriented tweets was more, which was the motive, we continued with the same. We spend time together to plan and finalise both campaign and its content,” Deven Bharti, Joint CP, Law & Order.

The current plight of India Police Services on social media is a much-evolved face of administration strategically taking up to the rather new medium for cracking crimes. The journey however, commenced with functional strengths of the social networks that is leveraging its reach to nab ill-doers.

Functional to strategic

The early part of the decade witnessed traffic police units making their way to Facebook for updates and assistance. One of the first few units to crack the Facebook code were – Delhi, Bangalore, and Hyderabad Traffic Police. The core idea was to leverage the reach to spread information loud and clear.

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In 2012, Delhi Traffic Police managed to 22,000 traffic offenders through its Facebook page.

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Progression exhibited by these pages however, is high – content is much crisper, accurate and responsive.

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The announcements soon transformed into engaging with the community for better purposes including spotting missing persons and tracking criminals’ IP addresses basis their logins. This further progressed into a much systematic approach of social media for battling crime.

The Policing CRM

Mumbai Police, in 2013 established a Social Media Lab in association with Reliance Foundation and NASSCOM. 20 trained police official were to keep a tab what’s going around the city by tracking content on social media. These police officers worked in shifts and look for leads.

It was during this time when Police departments from around the country used social media to track misdoings. Drug deals, women trafficking, and eve teasing case were busted through tip offs from social media.

In August 2015 Bangalore Police Department established a 24*7 WhatsApp, empowering users to lodge a complaint immediately. The idea was to make citizens feel safe while aborting the need of them going to the police station or having to deal with corrupt officials.

CRM of sorts was also seen on Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s path, when he helped an agonised lady passenger who was being bullied in an express train and shared her plight on Twitter.

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During the Nepal Earthquake, Sushma Swaraj too left no Tweet unanswered extending a helping hand to every citizen distressed out there.

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Moment marketing

With the arrival of 2016, Mumbai Police set an all new high by getting into moment marketing. Not only did their Twitter handle crack the Gen Y language code, but was also seen producing memes to attract the right TG.

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Giving their followers a better understanding, Mumbai Police further organised a Twitter chat with Police Commissioner of the city.

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“Twitter is a medium which allows one to express thoughts in an interesting manner and we design our strategy plus content keeping this simple fact in mind. People should be able to relate to it in order to remember it & share it, and that is our aim. We are fortunate that senior officials from the department support our ideas and that makes all the difference,” shared Amyn Ghadiali, Head – Strategy & Social Media, Trivone Digital.

Creating a social media nexus for agile administration changed (and can further change) the face of security issues in India. The authorities however, will be able to harbour the medium’s true strength when these facilities are further marketed thus offering a safety tool to rather paranoid tourists and daily commuters.

“Having closely worked with the Mumbai Police as a crime journalist for almost 6 years, an understanding of how they work and what the city thinks of them, helped in planning the campaigns. These rough and tough cops, especially the CP, displayed outstanding sense of humour and it reflects on the account,” expressed Sunchika Pandey, who initiated the project and is currently a consultant.

Presently, these social media aides are popular only amongst veteran social media users. A mechanism that not only informs but connects the offline citizen to this safety network can make a lot of difference.

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