5 reasons I love the way West Midlands Fire Service do digital

When it comes to fantastic examples of social media use, West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) are right up there. Here are 5 reasons why I think they are so brilliant.

1. They use photographs really effectively

If you scroll through WMFS Facebook Page or twitter account (@westmidsfire) you’ll see lots and lots of photos. Some are from incidents as the service responds to them. Some are from events and activities with the public. Some are safety advice and warnings. Others show you the day to day life of people who work for the fire service. And many of them are also shared on Instagram, a platform dedicated to photo and video content. I’m in awe of how smoothly West Midlands Fire Service work across platforms with great photo content.

2. They use mentions on twitter to inform and increase awareness

I thought these friendly replies to mentions during a conference in Dudley were just brilliant.

 3. They really get it – everyone is involved

In a Comms2Point0 blog post Dudley’s Fire Commander Neil Griffiths (@NeilGriffths_) describes how WMFS have handed over the power to share stories to the frontline. Below is an extract from the post:

The key to effective social media posting is “mixing it up a bit”, with a wide range of users across your organisation. The more people you have posting, the more diverse your engagement will be. This is why all of our fire stations have a twitter account and some even dual post through Facebook, too.

The majority of our tweets and posts come from our 1322 frontline firefighters from 38 fire stations, who are normally at the sharp end. The sharp end isn’t just responding to incidents, but also includes working with partners to improve the lives of our most vulnerable people. Being at this sharp end provides them with a great understanding of the communities they serve because they interact with them every day. So, through our 71 twitter accounts with over 80,000 followers we are able to inform our communities of the most relevant incidents and activities we undertake almost instantly.

4. They embrace a diversity of video content

West Midlands Fire Service have a You Tube channel and a Vimeo account to share video content. Videos they upload range from professionally made and edited films to short, unedited uploads from mobile devices at incidents the fire service are called out to. There are also uploads of media coverage and videos of speakers at WMFS events, such as this footage of Prof. Sir Michael Marmott at the Improving Lives to Save Lives event.

Neil also talks about video in the Comms2Point0 post:

The latest example of how social media can be used within our environment was a video we produced at a local fire…

 As the dynamic phase of the incident was concluded an opportunity to provide our communities not only with some information but place the reality and seriousness of a fire into some real life context allowing a birds eye view of the scene…

Using an iPhone and iMovie a video was created before the story broke, allowing the press and our communities the timely facts. 

5. They are quick to try out new platforms

West Midlands Fire Service already have over 130 followers and lots of applause (nearly 3000 hearts) on Periscope, a live video streaming app which was launched only 5 months ago. I’m yet to catch a WMFS live stream on Periscope (Periscope videos are only available for 24 hours), but I hope to soon. It caught the attention of communications folk at CommsCamp15:

I couldn’t resist chipping in upon seeing another great response from @WestMidsFire:

A handy list of some of West Midlands Fire Service social media accounts:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WestMidsFire
Twitter: www.twitter.com/westmidsfire (@westmidsfire)
Instagram: www.instagram.com/westmidsfire
You Tube: www.youtube.com/user/westmidsfire
Vimeo: www.vimeo.com/westmidsfire