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SLO County Sheriff's Office

How It All Began

As a public entity, the Sheriff’s Office saw a growing need to connect with the community in better ways, providing information on programs, successes and public safety concerns through the massively popular sites like Facebook and Twitter. Representatives cited lack of community awareness as a major issue in their department, and articulated a desire to have online resources more readily available to the public in order to provide information anytime needed, and also create efficiencies in the department by reducing the number of calls routed through the office itself.

The goals of the social media campaign were:

  • 1. To build awareness of the Sheriff’s brand as a community-focused organization
  • 2. To drive traffic to their website and increase visibility of their public safety PSAs
  • 3. To humanize the department more to citizens. The goal to increase Facebook likes by 50% and engagement to 8% with the year was established.

Our Approach

Verdin researched how to best approach social media in the public safety sector, and created a strategy based on best practices and lessons learned by other law enforcement entities throughout the country.

The Facebook page was updated daily with engaging content, and allowed easy changes if an urgent topic needed to take priority over the planned posts. Content included deputy and volunteer highlights, event promotion, information about disaster preparedness and personal safety, and most popularly: Most Wanted Wednesdays. These weekly posts consisted of a current wanted criminal in the area, and have garnered more attention from the community than any other element of the campaign.

To maximize budget, Verdin trained selected staff in the Sheriff’s Office on social media and then shared the posting and monitoring duties for monthly content. This ensured the page would be monitored at all times, adding appropriate responses as needed.

What Happened

The success of the SLO County Sheriff’s office soared well above defined goals, and has transformed the community engagement and interaction immensely to date. Surpassing the Facebook “like” goal, the page saw an increase in likes by 1,643% since we started in 2014. Today, the page has over 13,000 likes and the post reach since 2014 has increased by 124%.

The page has facilitated dozens of arrests, including two criminals who turned themselves in after being featured on Most Wanted Wednesdays, and a third that was arrested within hours of the post. The percentage of suspects who are either captured or turn themselves in after being featured on Most Wanted Wednesday is above 47%.

Sheriff Ian Parkinson said, "The Sheriff's Office has worked with Verdin for the past couple years and we have been extremely pleased with their product and their people. They created a public service campaign for us regarding emergency preparedness that was very well received by the public. They helped create our visible presence on social media platforms. And they created and designed our new website which is still getting positive reviews for the quality and quantity of useful information and the ease of use. In short, they're that good.” Additionally, Verdin received the Best in Show Gold award for the work by American Advertising Federation for 2014.

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