Social media engagement!

Everybody’s doing it, but some are definitely doing it better than others.

Brands far and wide are on the hunt for contests, hashtags or witty one zingers that might increase their follower count and/or standing in the court of public opinion. But for every Arby’s Grammy joke there’s an American Airlines not safe for work flop.

With great power comes great responsibility– bringing us to the latest “whoops” brought to you by the NYPD.

Yesterday, in attempt to inspire user-generated images of smiling strangers with police officers they launched the #myNYPD hashtag. The ask was simple: tweet us a photo of you with a NYC police officer.

The response wasn’t exactly what the were looking for.

Throughout the last two days images of police brutality have overtaken the hashtag which continues to trend as more and more users pile on. A history of police brutality, policies like Stop and Frisk, and the repeated scuffles during the Occupy Wall Street Movement that gained prominence as a result of social media mean we could be here for a while.

The NYPD commented on the matter this morning saying:

The N.Y.P.D. is creating new ways to communicate effectively with the community. Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city.

The takeaway?

Twitter is a phenomenal force that puts the power in the hands of the masses. Additional hashtags have begun to pop up including #MyLAPD and #MYCPD bringing attention to outrageous images from other cities. The initial NYPD campaign would have likely garnered no attention on its own legs. It took others seeing an opportunity to address an important and overlooked issue to make some waves. In principle, their idea was simple and straightforward but social media is hardly either of those things. I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned in all of this but in truth I think it has more to do with users than brands.

 

To that end, I think the NYPD is right. This kind of open dialogue is good for the city of New York.

Click here to view more from the hashtag.