- Contact Name: Talib Graves-Manns,Wake Forest MBA – Marketing Consultant
- Contact Phone: 757.329.0306
- Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: 8/15/2011
Wake Forest University is a small, southern, private university in North Carolina. The Wake Forest University Police Department (WFPD) has 60 employees, 26 of whom are sworn officers. The department serves a population of 8,500 that consists of students, faculty, and staff.
In 2010, WFPD had an outside firm perform a branding and marketing analysis with the goal of assessing the department’s relationship with the community. One of the decisions made after the analysis was to bring in a marketing person to assist the department. WFPD reached into one of their greatest resources, their student body. The department solicited the School of Business for a marketing intern who stepped in to assist the department with their marketing and branding strategy. Part of this strategy included the use of social media and WFPD began using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
WFPD had several objectives for using social media and an enhanced marketing strategy. First, the department wanted to increase transparency. Second, they wanted to increase their community’s awareness of the services that the department provided. And third, WFPD wanted to be able to leverage community relationships and public support. Each month, the department has a different theme across their social media channels. These themes range from spring break safety, to sexual assault awareness. The department then publishes content such as Facebook posts and YouTube videos that relate to that theme in order to educate students and the rest of the university community.
As part of their marketing campaign, the department presented to the incoming freshman class during orientation. The presentation included tips on how the students could and should use social media responsibly and ended by encouraging students to “like” WFPD on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. As another piece of the marketing campaign, WFPD purchased Facebook ads. These ads can be targeted to specific age groups and areas, allowing WFPD ads to appear to college-age users in the Wake Forest area. In the first four months of use, these ads have provided a positive return on investment.
In addition to running ads, WFPD also ran social media driven campaigns to get students engaged with their social media pages. One of these campaigns took place over a six month period and was a free iPad giveaway that encouraged students to “Like” the page. When the time came to give away the iPad WFPD partnered with a campus-wide organization to sponsor an event which would attract a few hundred students. During that event they gave away the iPad to one of the new fans that was also attending the sponsored event. Deciding to partner with a campus organization proved to be mutually beneficial allowing both WFPD and the other organization to reach more students and increase police/community perceptions.
WFPD plans to continue to grow and develop as they move forward with social media. They are in the beginning stages of developing a public safety mobile app. They also hope to enhance their use of Twitter and create even more engaging content. Another way WFPD wants to enhance their use of social media is by partnering with other university departments.
Chief Lawson provided a few tips for other campus and law enforcement agencies that are getting started with social media. First, she said, establish a team. Second, listen to the students. And lastly, be flexible with creativity and remember who your audience is. WFPD takes care to match their message with the audience and to strike a balance between using social media tools for prevention and emergency communication.
With minimal investment, departments can reap a great benefit. Campus agencies in particular have a significant resource, their students. The innovative marketing and content strategies have helped WFPD increase the impact of their social media efforts.