Learning a thing or two from the Mumbai Police about upping the Social Media game

Sunchika Pandey Group Director, Citizen Initiatives & Government division, Gozoop, tells us how she built the social profile for the Mumbai Police Department step by step

e4m by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Published: Dec 12, 2018 8:04 AM  | 6 min read
mumbai police

Lately, the woman behind the famed Mumbai Police department’s Twitter handle (@MumbaiPolice) finds herself catching up on the latest binge-worthy shows, viral memes and Twitter trends whenever she finds the time. 

From Game of Thrones and Stranger Things to Twitter memes like GharSeNikalTeHi, Sunchika Pandey and her team is thinking content round the clock and tries to never miss a social media opportunity for the Mumbai Police. Over the last three years, the Mumbai Police Department’s Twitter handle has become every Mumbaikar’s go-to channel for latest updates on law and order related happenings in the city, to register complaints, all while being treated to social media memes on the side. The social media strategy is a prime example for consumer facing brands that are trying to establish a strong social media presence.  

Seeing Content Everywhere
Content has become a state of mind for the Mumbai Police social media team. "If I see a glass lying around on the table, I wonder how to use it as content!" she says. But she is not cued into all the millenial themes and trends, so she generally gets all her references checked with her team of youngsters. "But now I am also watching all the popular shows,” confesses Pandey, who is the Group Director of its Citizen Initiatives & Government division at independent digital agency, Gozoop. 

It’s not just Pandey, even the policemen who run the Twitter operations for the department have begun looking at the world around them through the lens of “content.” This is the result of the Mumbai Police department’s innovative attempt at reaching out to the citizens of Mumbai through the micro-blogging platform three years ago. 

Every brand is talking the language of content, and there is no reason the Mumbai Police should be found lagging. “What ticks with the readers now-a-days is content. Content that is quirky, trendy, timeless, resonating... the list goes on. Mumbai Police has ticked all the boxes. Messages about safety, social & traffic discipline, celebration, respect for martyrs, cyber security, and all such occasions are so very well weaved into different engaging formats of content. By default you end up consuming these pieces and the point is driven home,” says Shekhar Mhaskar, EVP Isobar India, decoding the success of the Mumbai Police's social media game.

“The first tweet we ever put out was : Why should the police station be the only place where we meet? Let’s meet here every day,” recollects Pandey. Hers and her team’s efforts to make the police department more approachable and less fearful for the citizens has earned the department the moniker Meme-bai Police and Amul of Government departments.

Response Engenders Trust 

Hidden under the satirical content and prompt informative responses from the department is a lesson for all marketers who are trying to create a social media persona for their brands. To Pandey the lesson is very simple: a clear vision plus knowledge of target audience complemented by fulfilment of brand promise = success. 

Even Pandey knows this is easier said than done. Social media handles of most consumer facing companies are inundated with complaints from disgruntled consumers every day. These complaints are mostly met with automated responses that only irk consumers further. 

“There are instances when a disgruntled consumer feels a loss of trust with the brand because of a negative experience and cannot be assuaged by following documented response matrices. This is where a brand can elevate itself to the next level of sophistication – with their ability to humanise interactions and setting up of strong internal processes that speak with different departments to effectively act upon their customer commitments,” says Sakshi Arora, Strategy Director, Digitas India. 

Anticipating the citizen outpouring, at least eight policemen and two senior police officers monitor the Mumbai Police and Police Commissioner’s Twitter handles at any given point. The policemen monitor the tweets and direct messages sent to these two handles until 3-4am every day. “The clear mandate when we started out was that we must respond to every single tweet,” Pandey says. 

Kidding, but seriously...

The mission of the Mumbai Police was to utilise Twitter as yet another touchpoint where the department could interact with the citizens. “It was not in our plan to make it iconic in the way that it has become,” says Pandey with humility. 

“We wanted to make people smile and that’s how we thought about using humour in our posts.” At the same time as the Twitter handle of the police department the content had to always adhere to a certain high moral and ethical code. “As Mumbai Police we needed to maintain the dignity of the officers and the uniform. That is why we chose satire.”

Mumbai Police has resonated with the citizens of Mumbai by “challenging the status quo on the type of online personality an administrative body should have,” says Arora. This dark humour coupled with healthy engagement with citizens gives Mumbai Police its clutter breaking social presence and huge organic following. 

“Brands typically monitor their social media handles but worry that saying something edgy will get them trolled. Typically BFSI, healthcare, and B2B brands are uncomfortable about using humour on social channels. But the Mumbai Police is okay with taking a stance and even responding to citizens. Now the mental impression of Mumbai Police has improved because of the social media presence of the department,” says Siddharth Hegde, MD & Founder, Ethinos Digital Marketing. 

All of these factors have made Mumbai Police a social media case study that other police departments across the country have begun to emulate. The Bangalore and Kolkata City Police engage with their citizens on social media very successfully. "Even the UP Police has launched a Twitter account and that has helped the department improve its image," quips Pandey. As the  Group Director of its Citizen Initiatives & Government division at Gozoop, Pandey wishes to work with more government bodies, helping them engage in a healthy manner with citizens. 

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