ONLINE COMMUNICATION

National Police lose Twitter manager who made them bigger than the FBI

Carlos Fernández Guerra hired to work the same online community magic at energy firm

Carlos Fernández Guerra, the National Police’s outgoing community manager.
Carlos Fernández Guerra, the National Police’s outgoing community manager.

He is leaving. Carlos Fernández Guerra, community manager for Spain’s National Police, is being hired by energy giant Iberdrola.

Fernández Guerra’s tireless online work allowed the Spanish police to overtake the FBI as the most-followed law enforcement agency on Twitter last year.

The @policia account now has 1.75 million followers – half a million more than the FBI and equal to that of all of Spain’s political parties combined. It adds an average 2,000 new ones every day.

Global experts view Spain’s National Police as a case study in successful online communication

The project began in 2009, when the police opened an account on the microblogging site to disseminate awareness campaigns, advertise police success stories and request citizen cooperation to solve cases.

“I have fulfilled a childhood dream, to work with the police,” he says, just a few hours before leaving his old post. “I did that for 10 years, but there are different periods in life and you also need to know when to close the door on them.”

Now, Iberdrola has created a new digital affairs and social media department, and the 41-year-old Fernández Guerra, a journalist by trade, is the man who is going to head it.

Who “follows” the National Police?

P.O.D.

A study by specialized consulting firm Sentisis shows that 66 percent of the Spanish National Police"s online followers are men, that 80 percent of users connect through their mobile devices and that over 60 percent of them have university degrees. Around 75 percent of followers are under 25 years old, with another 19 percent aged between 25 and 34.

According to Twitter Analytics, 20 percent of users live in the Madrid area and five percent in Barcelona, followed by Valencia and Seville. But only 87 percent of the National Police"s followers actually live in Spain. Around one percent are in Britain.

“I have been offered an exceptional project with a great company that also wants to get closer to its customers,” he says. “I am attracted to this new challenge.”

The community manager leaves behind him many success stories, such as the 20,000 interactions triggered by his post about the arrest of a child molester in Madrid’s Ciudad Lineal neighborhood.

The friendly, accessible tone of his posts, coupled with the fact that he made a point of answering each and every question, soon attracted thousands of followers to the police account.

The National Police also has 300,000 friends on Facebook and over 52,000 users on Instagram, even though its account on the latter is only a year old.

Overall, the police handles over 50,000 requests a year from citizens who post their questions on social media.

Global experts view Spain’s National Police as a case study in successful online communication.

Besides receiving countless awards in recent years (such as the 2013 Tweet Award Spain to the Best Community Manager Team), the model has been analyzed by other law enforcement agencies, governments, supranational agencies and all kinds of public and private organizations, including universities and business schools.

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Input from concerned citizens has helped arrest drug trafficking suspects, stop the circulation of sexually explicit videos featuring minors, locate the victims of a sex offender in Madrid, detain fugitives on the most wanted list, and detect the origin of death threats made against public figures such as Spanish comedian Eva Hache.

A lot has happened since @policia posted its first tweet, marking the beginning of a new form of police communication: “So you’re a hipster, or else you follow another urban trend, and you discuss it online. But don’t expose all of your private details. Private trumps trendy.”

The bar has been set very high for the eight people on Fernández Guerra’s team, who will now have to face the challenge of reaching two million followers all by themselves.

English version by Susana Urra

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