Bangor police Sgt. Timothy Cotton might be the savviest marketer that never was.
For those who don't know, Bangor is in Maine. And it's O.K. if you don't know where Bangor is, because it's a small city that has a population of about 33,000. Residents of this northeastern state are anticipating the type of snowstorm that's sure to attract media attention.
Although most police departments would look to leverage Facebook to share information about warming centers or who to call in the event of an emergency, Sgt. Cotton saw an opportunity to build the Bangor police department's brand by doing what most marketers (and officers) would consider unorthodox: He wrote more than 1,100 words on Facebook telling State of Mainers what brands to wear and how to act when news crews arrive to cover the storm.
The Facebook post -- which is hilarious -- tells citizens how to behave when media arrives. He also mentions several specific brands most Mainers could relate with in his post.
"Since many people from outside of New England believe we all live like Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor in Green Acres (still one of my favorite television programs of all time) we need to keep up the charade," he wrote on the Facebook page.
"Do the interview in sleeveless Carhartt hooded sweatshirt," he wrote. "Try not to shiver. Never allow outsiders see you shiver. This will blow the entire plan. If you are asked whether you are cold or not, make sure you say, 'Nah, this ain't bad.'"
To hear Sgt. Cotton tell it, much of the department's engagement has to do with him being so relatable to his audience. "I am Maine," he told Ad Age. "I live here and I dwell among the people."
"When I do this, it is to sell our brand and it works," Mr. Cotton said in an interview. "Our engagement is huge. When I took over Facebook two years ago we had 9,000 followers. We now have 190,000. If I hit 200,000 I get a toaster."
So what brands do Mainers wear?
"I would say in the circle of individuals I tend to be around, wearing Red Wing, Carhartt, Levi's," he said. "LL Bean is always big in Maine for good reason, mainly because it is accessible -- it's here in Maine, you know. They have a lot of discount stores and also because of their fantastic return policy -- any good Mainer is a cheap Mainer."
His success is impressive, as the police department has zero budget toward promoting posts on Facebook. As it stands right now, his recent post has nearly 4,000 shares and 6,700 likes. It's also just starting to make the rounds in other corners of the internet, too.
"I get a lot of these professionals calling me up and telling me I'm not doing Facebook right," Sgt. Cotton said. "They tell me my posts are too long and that I don't have any pictures. But I just look at their page and tell them, 'Well, I have more followers than you.'"