In the first half of 2020, Twin City Web Solutions had the privilege of working with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) and Sheriff Bobby F. Kimbrough, Jr. to perform social media analytics. We used the analytics to craft a digital strategy for enhancing their social media presence. Twin City Web Solutions helped the FCSO achieve a better understanding of its audience and leveraged data analytics to increase average engagement by 186%, average reach by 127%, and minimum reach by 196%.

Prior to this project, the FCSO predominantly used Facebook and YouTube accounts. The FCSO had also successfully grown a strong following of more than 25,000 on Facebook. The FCSO was also producing high quality visual content, including a weekly podcast, “Off the Cuffs with Kimbrough” and had recently launched a new website dedicated to recruitment.

Challenges

The FCSO presented several goals: (1) to develop a messaging strategy to dominate social media; (2) to build and maintain a positive relationship with stakeholders and public; and (3) to compete for influence in the ongoing public safety narrative. While working to accomplish these goals, we faced several unique challenges as a result of increased social unrest from the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic, the death of George Floyd and subsequent nationwide protests, the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM), and the Defund the Police movement (Defund).

The main challenge of this project was to achieve the FCSO’s key goals while defining key metrics that would be useful for understanding pre-pandemic/pre-unrest trends, tracking current trends, and making accurate projections.

Project Methodology

For social media analytics, Twin City Web Solutions looked at follower and engagement data on Facebook across three different periods: pre-pandemic, during pandemic, and aggregate. We also used U.S. Census Bureau data and information about social media platforms from the Pew Research Center. This allowed us to define the audience and engagement trends as well as the pandemic’s influence on those trends. We then defined content categories in order to study topical trends across all three periods, revealing audience tastes and how those tastes changed due to the pandemic and the BLM and Defund movements. We were also able to determine the composition of the FCSO’s audience and identify overperforming and underperforming demographics.

Key Findings

Twin City Web Solutions discovered that the FCSO was more popular than expected among women aged 25 and older and underperformed with men overall. We also determined that the FCSO struggles to engage with anyone under age 25. These assessments were based on the fact that, as a government agency, the FCSO serves all market segments. Thus, the audience should generally reflect the population proportions of Forsyth County with some influence from the demographic proportions of Facebook itself. The data clearly demonstrated that, as a proportion of both population and Facebook users, the FCSO was greatly underperforming among men.

In terms of categories, the data showed a clear dichotomy in the types of topics available to the FCSO. Although the FCSO has the capability of planning the publication of certain types of content, such as the “Off the Cuff’s with Kimbrough” podcast, the FCSO’s most popular topics were those that could not be planned in advance, such as life-saving public safety alerts or large crime/drug busts.

Twin City Web Solutions also examined the underlying digital infrastructure behind all of the FCSO’s online initiatives. We compared the FCSO’s development and activities to recommended best practices for Search Engine Optimization. Key recommendations included channel expansions, category and meta tagging, and an increase in written content (blog posts and podcast transcripts).

Final Recommendations

Achieving Dominance: We recommended enhanced real-time data analytics capabilities in order to perform useful A/B tests for underperforming demographics, such as men and adults under age 25. Enhanced capabilities would allow the FCSO to determine the topics preferred by each demographic and schedule content that appealed to several demographics.

Building Positive Relationships: Our plan for building positive relationships was simple. The Public Information Officer had already built a trustworthy and positive brand image that had successfully earned over 25,000 followers. She simply needed to expand her reach by using additional channels. We recommended Instagram and LinkedIn.

Influencing the Public Safety Narrative: recommendations for influencing the public safety narrative overlapped with the other recommendations. To be an influencer, the FCSO needed to expand its reach and engagement with other demographics. There were two key opportunities for influence: young adults and professionals/academics. We recommended reaching young adults through Instagram with visual content that was popular, such as videos or photos of the K9 Unit. For professionals and academics, we suggested using the podcast and blogs dedicated to social initiatives on LinkedIn. Additionally, we strongly recommended several tactics for improving the SEO performance of the FCSO in order to increase the likelihood that the FCSO could grow an audience outside of its public safety jurisdiction.

Conclusion

Twin City Web Solutions was pleased to have an opportunity to work side by side with the FCSO in the midst of a global pandemic and racial unrest. It was an honor and a privilege to work side by side with a high performing law enforcement team as they faced these challenges with conviction and humility.

Data Sources

Facebook (2020). Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office 2019-2020. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/GOFCSONC.

Pew Research Center (2020). Social Media Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/social-media/.

SimplyAnalytics (2020).  % Male Population 2018. May 2020, from SimplyAnalytics database.

SimplyAnalytics (2020).  % Female Population 2018. May 2020, from SimplyAnalytics database.

SimplyAnalytics (2020).  % Population Aged 0 to 5 Years 2019. May 2020, from SimplyAnalytics database.

SimplyAnalytics (2020).  % Population Aged 6 to 11 Years 2019. May 2020, from SimplyAnalytics database.

SimplyAnalytics (2020).  % Population Aged 12 to 17 Years 2019. May 2020, from SimplyAnalytics database.

SimplyAnalytics (2020).  % Population Aged 18 to 24 Years 2019. May 2020, from SimplyAnalytics database.

SimplyAnalytics (2020).  % Population Aged 25 to 34 Years 2019. May 2020, from SimplyAnalytics database.