Police paid $10,000 for a social media audit by a marketing company which suggested dialling back on puppy pictures and posting more about operational police work.
The audit included a manual assessment of thousands of comments on police social media channels.
It found the Southern district (Otago and Southland) had among the lowest levels of positive comments in the country, at just 4 per cent, compared with a high of 17 per cent in Waitemata.
Information about the audit, undertaken by social media marketing company Socialites last year, was obtained by the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act.
Police are prolific on their official social media pages, particularly Facebook, where posts about police dogs and puppies are frequent.
Socialites praised police for their use of social media, including humour, saying they were outperforming other agencies in New Zealand.
''We love the tone adopted by NZ Police on social media - it's human and authentic, which is what we see effective use of social media being all about.''
However, it said there was room for improvement, recommending an increase in the number of posts about operational work, and "dialling up the use of te reo where possible".
The audit found more than half of posts on the police national Facebook page were themed around trust and confidence, specifically humorous and ''feel-good'' posts and content.
Just 8 per cent of posts related to preventing crime and 16 per cent to road safety warnings.
A slide in the presentation alluded to divisions within police on the high number of puppy-focused posts.
''As we know this is a regular discussion point ... we've also addressed puppies.''
The company recommended increasing the proportion of news related to operational work.
Police spent $171,676 on Facebook advertising last year, compared with $73,943 on print advertising (including street posters and bus stop ad-shells), out of a total marketing spend of $968,531.