In conversation with Sunchika Pandey, we decipher the Mumbai Police Instagram Strategy and grasp what goes behind transforming 'sarkaari stuff' into 'engaging content'.
Since Mumbai Police has entered Instagram they have created a separate fanbase with content that is as entertaining as a Rohit Shetty movie, and the noise it has created is louder than the sirens in 'Aaya Police'.
They have also been making headlines on several published articles for their content. On each of their Instagram posts, (besides their witty replies) you would always see followers praising their content and frequently asking "Who handles this account?".
Well, first things first, the account is handled by Sunchika Pandey and her team, along with regular inputs from various members of the Mumbai Police department itself. Both of these pillars work hand in hand as a close-knit group.
In conversation with Sunchika Pandey, we go in-depth and understand the blueprint of the profile that not just shares important advisories but also engages people, who would otherwise be so bored in the in the house, in the house bored.
She says, "Instagram has a certain crowd that needs a lot of engagement and awareness, and the problem is pretty serious. The lockdown has also extended, it may or may not extend more, but when they're at home and they can get something engaging to look at which is giving them a message, then what's better than that".
The Entry On Instagram - Aaya Mumbai Police
Sunchika mentions that the idea to get on Instagram was proposed by the Commissioner of Mumbai Police, Param Bir Singh. He said that while the communication & real-time interactions were going well on Twitter, Instagram dominantly has younger age groups, that can be targeted here along with others.
The idea of entering Instagram stemmed from this need to create awareness amongst the youth and curb them from taking irresponsible steps. The insight was derived on after they noticed many youngsters not following the safety measures, and engaging in group activities such as playing cricket.
The Commissioner directed that Instagram shouldn’t be an interactive platform for complaints and queries. One can always dial 100 or tweet to Mumbai Police for complaints, but Instagram should be looked at for engagement and awareness. This CTA is also given in their bio.
The handle is not monitored 24/7. Mumbai Police is here to remind them that they are already out on the streets to safeguard people, and you should not be stepping out.
Debriefing The Brief
She says, “There was no brief as such, but the brief was always clear - Help more and more Mumbaikars, keep them aware, however, through whichever medium is available to create awareness”.
References shared by Mumbai Police spring from what is happening around, through the feedback and complaints they get, and the monitoring they do.
The objective of the Mumbai Police Instagram strategy presently is to give them one single message that, "We are outside, working, away from our families to keep Mumbai safe, so we request you to please stay home."
Sunchika reckons, “This is the understanding with which we have been constantly working with, along with the direct involvement of everyone from the Commissioner to the Joint Commissioner to the DCP".
"We also understand that it is not easy to keep staying home and keep consuming all the serious stuff", which is why serious communication is packed in an amusing manner. For instance, the post that was put out from the new Netflix show - Extraction.
Mumbai Police is also attempting to replicate their on-ground activities online, such as parades in different areas for regular checks and a range of activities aimed at maintaining composure.
For instance - the G.O.A.T. video, which was sent by the DCP, Sunchika says the sweet moment was actually a coincidence, but that's something they know people would love, and it also recreates the message, which remains the same whether the communicated online or offline.
Popping the Pop Culture
Mumbai Police has been on point and is popping the pop culture like a sheet of bubble wrap while wrapping their communication around the growing trends, and using the Instagram interface effectively.
Be it revamping the iconic Abbey Road cover with a ‘contained’ take, or using popular web series to communicate advisories, or using an online game to guide users on staying safe from the red zone. Mumbai Police has been related with this kind of communication, starting from Twitter days.
Sunchika reckons, “I think Mumbai Police started the trend in the country for a Government organization to indulge in this kind of content to engage people and to speak in the language that they understand”.
Use of healthy humor, satire, and cultural inferences have been very Mumbai Police-y, which has now also been adapted by various other departments in the country, “This reputation cannot be suddenly changed and is also in sync with the kind of culture that is on Instagram so it works".
She explains, along with taking care of the basics such as keeping an eye out for the kind of content people are engaging with and having clarity of what the Police department wants to do, it’s not tough to decide what should go out from their handles.
Approach On Instagram
The format can be different, but the intent remains the same, whether, on Twitter or Instagram.
She explains “To put this in basic social media lingo if you have the brief clear from the client, it's not so difficult to work well for them”.
But sometimes it so happens that the brief changes or the client expects something else, or their mind changes once they see the results. “But the police department is very focussed”, and they stick to their single intent.
A Part Of COVID-19 Response Strategy?
The department’s entry on Instagram and the COVID-19 outbreak were more or less on similar timelines, and their strategy has also been COVID-19 focussed. When asked whether the entry on the platform was a part of the response strategy, Sunchika says COVID-19 had been around for a while and the Commissioner was looking to extend the department’s arms to another platform.
“This was the right time possibly to come on an additional platform and to reach out to more people. We have a Twitter handle, that is okay but there is another platform now, where we have a different set of people looking at us. So it is an additional asset, and we are also able to reach a lot more youngsters, who would be so bored”, Sunchika adds.
The Creative Process
The creative process of forming the strategy and acting in accordance with it involves two elements - social listening and topical trends.
Primarily, the creative process is a mix of what is going on around us and what is going wrong around us.
The social listening part involves the various constables from the Mumbai Police Twitter Cell's Control Room and the department's Cyber Cell and teams who are monitor social media platforms day in and day out.
Although the listening part is not just restricted to social media, it also entails real-time complaints and spotting growing problems and creating awareness around it.
For instance, when there are repeated complaints of people grouping somewhere or going out biking, then they decide some action has to be taken against it.
Subsequently, it is discussed with the creative team, and references are given on topics that cannot be ignored by the people. The focus of the day or for the next few days is set on in this manner.
And as for packaging the communication around topical trends, several of the ideas also come in from the department itself along with the creative teams working on it.
Many police members are aged between 20 and 30 and understand the digital culture well. "It is a very closely knitted group that we have and Mumbai Police is as involved in this as any creative person on my team is," Sunchika asserts.
Sunchika adds, unless its a long term campaign or plan being executed, the strategy is not something that can be planned in advance.
Engagement & Reach
The department is trying to keep people engaged so that they are here when an important announcement is made or something crucial is put out.
"So when you talk about engagement, that is the only engagement that they(Mumbai Police) would wish for", she opines that in between all the fake news and rumors, the quickest and best way to bust myths for the department is to inform citizens through their official handles.
"For that they need more and more people to see it, anybody seeing this will also circulate this to 15-20 more people, its a beautiful chain".
When asked if the reach of the Instagram account is organic or have they used or plan to use any paid boosts, Sunchika says, "100% of it is organic, from Twitter till here" and "0% of the posts have used paid boosts".
After going behind the screen, the inference that can be drawn out is staying true to the purpose of having a presence and asking yourself, "What is it that you want to communicate and what should the consumer of your content be aware of?".
Having a content calendar and using tools is fitting, but staying true to the purpose and being passionate about your communication is also important.
We would like to honor members of Mumbai Police, as they protect our city on the frontlines and keep us safe like the walls of our home.