How a Very Clever Police Department Is Using Twitter to Globally Brand -- and Save -- Itself

The Most Tweeted Brands of the Week Chart

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A few notes about this week's Top 10 Most Tweeted Brands chart, a collaboration between Advertising Age and What the Trend:

  • Last week a story in the U.K.'s Telegraph caught my eye: Manchester police uses Twitter to detail inanity of 999 calls. (The 999 system is similar to 911 in the U.S.) As the paper reported, the Greater Manchester Police department took to Twitter to "demonstrate that most of their time is spent on 'social work.'" As Chief Constable Peter Fahy put it, "Policing is often seen in very simple terms, with cops chasing robbers and locking them up. However, the reality is that this accounts for only part of the work they have to deal with. A lot of what we do is dealing with social problems such as missing children, people with mental-health problems and domestic abuse. Often these incidents can be incredibly complex and need a lot of time, resource and expertise. I am not saying that we shouldn't deal with these types of incidents -- far from it. But what I am saying is that this work is not recognized in league tables and measurements -- yet is a huge part of what we do."

    Thus the department's clever Twitter campaign -- undertaken, in part, to stave off budget cuts -- which has surely succeeded beyond the chief constable's wildest expectation, for this week they've landed in our Top 10. Twitterers around the world retweeted tweets from the department's main feed, @gmpolice, as well as a special set of feeds in what it called its "24 Hour tweet experiment" (aggregated here), while fans of good police work tweeted messages of support (e.g., from Manchester student Jade Iqbal, who uses the Twitter handle @jiqbal: "@gmpolice: Thanks for all the hard work you do every day. Always polite, helpful and just generally amazing. Be safe!").

    Throughout history, only a small number of law-enforcement units have achieved global brand status, invariably because of literary, film and/or TV enshrinement (e.g., Scotland Yard, the NYPD, the FBI, the CIA). Now, Twitter has given the Greater Manchester Police global exposure of the best possible sort. If a reality-TV series and a line of merch don't follow, I'll be shocked (the department's logo would look really awesome on baseball caps, T-shirts and mugs).

    Also, let's not underestimate what a historic moment this is for Twitter itself: The notoriously time-wasting service has been used to demonstrate productivity, rather than erode it.

  • I'm running out of time here (I simply must get back to tweeting!), so I'm going to briefly hand the mic to my colleague Liz Pullen, trend analyst at What the Trend. Liz offers these observations on a few other entries in our Top 10:

  • "The Commonwealth Games -- despite a ton of bad press before the games started -- have made a respectable showing in Twitter's Trending Topics throughout the past three weeks, especially given that they feature games like cricket, netball and badminton, which are not sports typically watched by U.S. audiences."
  • "Of the top five team sports on Twitter -- U.S. football, European soccer/football, basketball, baseball and hockey -- baseball usually only trends in cases of scandal, no hitters or player trades. But the playoffs have interested viewers and brought Major League Baseball back into the spotlight, beyond die-hard baseball fans."
  • "The Chilean mining rescue has legs! It didn't hurt that five miners immediately proposed to their girlfriends and common-law wives following their rescue."

How is this chart made? See Notes, below.

Trend Peak Position This Week Points Crowdsourced Description
1 European Soccer/Football 1 7,582 Tweets about various teams, players and matches.
See for a complete list of subtrends.
2 Commonwealth Games 1 3,398 Tweets about various teams, players and matches.
See for a complete list of subtrends.
3 Chilean Mining Rescue 4 3,103 People are tweeting about the details of the rescue operation code-named "San Lorenzo," which freed 33 trapped miners about 2000 feet (~700 meters) underground from the collapsed San Jose Mine in Chile.
Subtrends include: Chilean miners, Rescued, Miner, Chilean miner, Rescue, Miners
4 Greater Manchester Police 1 2,825 Greater Manchester Police are tweeting every 999 call, 24 hours a day, in a bid to stave off budget cuts.
Subtrends include: #gmp24, Manchester Police
5 MLB 1 2,577 Tweets about various teams, players and games.
See for a complete list of subtrends.
6 NFL 1 2,256 Tweets about various teams, players and games. Also: Junior Seau, former NFL player, drove his vehicle off a cliff after being arrested.
Subtrends include: Seau. See for a complete list of subtrends.
7 Apple 2 2,192 Tweets about Apple's various new product and software announcements this week.
Subtrends include: Mac App, ILife, Verizon Wireless, Verizon, iPhones, MacBook, OSX
8 Various Brazilian political brands 1 2,138 Jose Serra, a Brazilian politician running for president, was hit by an object tossed at his head in public. He overreacted and went to a hospital for a tomography. Nothing was detected. Rojas was a soccer player (Chile) who faked a firework hit in his head during a soccer match in Brazil. People are making fun of Serra, comparing him to Rojas -- thus the #serrarojas hashtag.
Subtrends include: #serrarojas.
9 Super Junior 1 1,947 Tweets about the Korean boy band Super Junior. Band member Lee DongHAE just celebrated his birthday on Oct. 15, so #HAEppybirthday is intentional, not misspelled.
Subtrends include: #HAEppybirthday
10 BET 1 1,782 BET broadcast a "Top 10 Rappers of the 21st Century" television special, and people are asking for a re-vote.
Subtrends include: #top10rappers, Top Ten Rappers, Revote, Luda, BET top, Jezzy, Top Ten, Gucci Mane, Drake number, Soulja Boy, Ice Cube

For more information about What the Trend, visit the WTT FAQ. And check out WTT's Week in Review, compiled by its in-house editors and covering an expanded general list of Top 20 trends (including hashtag trends) here.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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