Avoiding Social Media Mistakes

social_mediaI often get asked the question if a fire department should have a Facebook Fan Page or just a Facebook Friend Page.  The answer is simple, Facebook actually prohibits the use of “Friend Pages” for business or organization use.  When I give this answer I usually hear people complain that they can’t get enough traffic to their Fan Page without paying Facebook for sponsorships.  Departments engaging in social media need to remember, social media strategies are critical for marketing your brand.  Creating a positive online image for your organization is all part of fire service reputation management.  PR Daily highlighted a great article by Heather Smith on avoiding social media mistakes.  Click here to check out the article and find out how you can Steer Clear of 15 Social Media Mistakes. 


  1. I am currently dealing with the village council. They are always picking me and the dept apart. It’s starting to get ugly. How can I deal with this toake them understand the changes that are made are for the well being of the community and the members safety. All I keep hearing is the power has gone to my head. And you know how the local news papers write what they want. It’s really hurting our department of 17 volunteers.

  2. Hi Chief,
    Dealing with the public when it comes to change is something that can be difficult. It is important to constantly share the good work that you are doing through social media and other sources. This includes photos of weekly training, community service, etc. Many times members of the community don’t realize how busy the fire department really is. Another thing that may be helpful is to show members of council the cost benefit and life safety factor to the change. Come in with a presentation that includes visual aids with statistics and facts. Think of a used car salesman and really sell it to them.

    Have you ever thought of inviting the village council members to the fire department to participate in a day of training to find out what it is like to be a firefighter? Invite the media to get some great PR of them taking part in this. A lot of times people don’t understand the need for certain equipment or rule changes. In Ohio, we have a course that elected officials can take at our fire academy to experience the fire service. Check out this link http://www.ohiofirechiefs.com/aws/OFCA/asset_manager/get_file/77426?ver=9 to find out more about the program. The agenda is included and that may help you develop your own type of program if there is not one in the area.

    One last tool to offer you….order the book DC Fire by Chief Dennis Rubin. You can get on Amazon or through Fire Engineering. It is a great resource to learn how as leaders to deal with change. Chief Rubin walks you through his experiences in dealing with elected officials, the public, media, and poor firefighter behavior. Each chapter ends with leadership strategies and reflection questions.



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