Social Media: An Introduction

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Social media is integrated technology that allows users to generate their own content and share that content through various connections.  Social media is commonly associated with Web 2.0, technology that focuses on integration, collaboration, and interaction. There are numerous social media tools available, with different characteristics, user demographics, and functionalities. Examples of social media tools include blogs, social networking sites, microblogging sites, photo- and video-sharing sites, wikis, RSS feeds, and podcasting.

Social media has many unique characteristics including:

  • Immediacy – Because of this users are able to control the conversation by being the first to disseminate information and by having the ability to immediately respond to incorrect or negative information.
  • Interaction – Social media also helps facilitate interaction and engagement between the community and agency, helping to improve communication and relationships.
  • Audience – Many social media sites operate free of charge and are accessible by a large and diverse audience through mobile devices and computers.
  • Scalable – Social media can be tailored to meet the unique needs of any organization and can be integrated into an agency’s communication and outreach strategy.

People from all walks of life and from all over the world have embraced social media. Organizations of all shapes and sizes are achieving dramatic benefits by using these tools to reach out to customers and community members in new ways. Law enforcement agencies are finding immense value in social media technology. Departments are using these tools to share alerts and press releases, reach out to the community, and prevent and solve crimes.

Click below to learn more about social media applications and the way law enforcement agencies all over the country are integrating social media into their communications and outreach strategies.

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Social Media Fact Sheet

Strategy Development

Glossary Terms


Cyberbullying: willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.

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Does the IACP offer social media training? The IACP, through its Center for Social Media, offers executive level training on social media. Click here for more information.

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Fun Fact


As of June 2014, Facebook drove 23.39% of Internet traffic.

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