The last laugh: what businesses can learn about social media from the NSW Police


As we grow, the police force typically holds a fluctuating relationship in favourability. As a child, they were a source of safety and security. Getting lost in crowds, they were the one figure you counted on for safety. But as a teen through to the years as a younger adult, they were typically a force to be weary of. Whether it was driving, out for the night, or running amok with mates – the police were there to enforce the law and were not kn0wn for holding empathetic relationships.

I’m not sure if you have noticed the NSW Police Force Facebook page, but for such a potentially divisive organisation, they are nailing it capturing an audience of close to one million. Apart from being the expected source of minute to minute information on serious crime, community warnings and announcements, they’ve been able to reach and engage a multi-tiered public audience peppering entertaining content throughout their feed. Serious messages like speed or drinking warnings are articulately conveyed through a filter of humour – the underlying gravity of topic still evident and retained.

While many small business enterprises struggle to build a loyal following, specifically with millennials, their social media has managed to capture the attention of the public – all ages, Z to Boomers.

Here are a few examples in case you have not seen it:

An average post will have over 10,000 comments and up to 500 shares as the public steps up to support the safety and protection of our community. So how do they do it and what can you take away and apply to your own SMBs?

The humour threaded through more official authoritative content complements our Aussie culture. Compare this with the US, and the NYPD page with 750,000 followers houses content that you might expect from a government body. Posts are serious, sensitive, respectful and layered with US Pride.

With 16M Aussies on Facebook and 5M on Instagram – multinationals through to start-ups are recognising the power of social media as an affordable, adaptable and accessible business and marketing channel. Here are some actions SMEs can take to ramp up their following:

  • Humour: While some organisations are renowned for their cheeky tone, humour is being seen in more and more unexpected brands and as a nation we respond positively to it. While lines may be crossed and people offended more easily with a more witty approach, when crafted skilfully it drives relatability, likeability and a more connected audience.
  • Cultural connection: Australian-owned organisations should tap into the nation’s traditions and culture to relate more closely to the Aussie audience. However be respectful and mindful as some organisations have attracted a backlash due to blatant commercial pushes during commemorative moments like ANZAC Day.
  • Unique presence: Invest time understanding competitor social pages as part of the social strategy, and use this to create a brand point of difference. A brand is likely to gain a stronger following when an audience can’t get the information or content from anywhere else.
  • Multimedia: Video and interesting photography will generally result in post engagement and shares.
  • High-jack news events: Utilise trending news events to generate a stronger appeal and following to your content.

About the author

Nicole Reaney is the director of InsideOut PR and the founder of Social Influencer agency #AsSeenOn.