In every town across the country a person is stood on a street corner shouting their message to the passing public. They may want us to visit their business, love their God or support their cause. They shout their message for all to hear but most people ignore them and walk on by. Yet day after day, week after week these people persist and continue to deliver their message.
Our roads are places of danger for every road user. Drink driving, drug driving, seatbelts, phone use, close passes on cyclists, excess speed; they can all lead to fatalities. The TISPOL campaign #ProjectEDWARD tells us “We are all more vulnerable than we think and we can all play our part in making a difference.” We need to get our message out there. Remember “Shout” by Tears for Fears? “Shout. Shout. Let it all out. These are the things I can do without”
We can certainly do without all the above road safety issues and definitely need fewer road deaths, but how do we shout out about them and not be ignored? Whilst we could stand on corners we now have social media in our toolkit. This can be ignored too, so how do we ‘shout out’ about road safety on social and be heard?
Great images, video and content all help but pushing that into all the social noise on Facebook or Twitter is simply not enough. You need something else and that is a community of followers. A community you have built relationships with. Not just followers but a community of people who trust you and is on message with your road safety objectives. This doesn’t happen overnight and requires investment of time and effort.
But by doing so are we preaching to the converted? In some ways yes but as they share your messages it spreads wider to new people who can be influenced. Social media is complex place with many experts wanting to tell you about their secrets to success… for a fee! However, at its very base level it’s people and we need to have a relationship with them. Not just shout at them and hope they listen. Start a conversation, answer their questions, be friendly and build connections. Nothing more than the basic fundamentals we use when meeting someone face to face.
When we have a great message and a dedicated following we can make a difference. Like the person in the street, we then have to be consistent, stick with it and not give up. If we shout out our message to our carefully crafted community then they provide the echo chamber that gets it to those people we need to influence.
All you need to do is get out there, invest the time and build your community. Are you ready? As Tears for Fears said; Come on. I’m talking to you. Come on!
Sgt Neil Dewson-Smyth
Neil Dewson-Smyth is a police Sgt with almost 28 years service with Greater Manchester Police and latterly Cheshire Police. He is the creator of the #DontStreamAndDrive campaign and, in 2017, won the Connected Cops International Social Media Leadership Award in Long Beach, California.