Social Media Irrelevant to Security Professionals

Author: John Honovich, Published on Sep 02, 2009

While social media (twitter, facebook, etc.) receives a lot of mainstream media attention, social media is essentially irrelevant to the security market. While it may improve, I think it will be a slow and long process.

Integrator Goes Tweeting

To that end, Johnson Control's Twitter Contest does not look promising. JCI wants you to read their blog, get 4 keywords over 4 weeks and then 'tweet' those keywords to JCI's twitter account on September 21st. All to win $100 USD.

This is too much to ask for too few people who use social media. [Note: I see the irony that I found this on Twitter and am now sharing it here. However, this is the exception rather than the rule of social media use in the security market.]

Recommendations

If you are not using social media, you are not missing out on much (at least for security topics). If you are considering using social media for security, set your expectations low.

Here's a couple metrics to consider:

  • Maybe there are 200 - 300 total physical security industry people regularly using Twitter.  In the 6 months I have been tracking Twitter, security use has grown modestly at best. Plus, the people who do use Twitter are editors, PR people, marketing managers at manufacturers, etc. It's a pretty insular group. I use it because I do need to communicate/hear from those people but it's limited.
  • There's been a bunch of security social networks formed; none have caught on. CCTVBlog is one of the larger ones and it has only 203 members over 1.5 years and very few new posts each week.
  • Even RSS feeds are rarely used by security people. IP Video Market Info has about 700 RSS subscribers (which is quite small yet still about 500% more than the RSS feeds for trade magazine). Amazingly, IP Video Market has more paying subscribers than subscribers to the RSS feed.
 
This is the opposite situation of people in web development - where thousands of RSS subscribers and Twitter followers is average. I do not think those markets are much bigger than security - They simply use these technologies dramatically more than security people do.
 
The only social media site/service that I have found to have power is LinkedIn. The groups on those sites not only have quite a large number of members but they include a broad range of important industry people. For instance, the IP Video Market Info group has over 700 people including many dealers, integrators and distributors. There are another 5 to 10 other security groups with similar size. Finally, people do read LinkedIn, especially the email summaries that LinkedIn sends out. I can verify this with my traffic and referrer logs. This is still not anywhere close to even a majority of security users but at least the potential for a response exists.
 
The best on-line communications tool for the security industry is, by far, e-mail. For instance, the trade magazines probably get 50% of their traffic (or more) from their e-mail blasts (they have 20,000+ subscribers gathered over the last decade). Even IP Video Market Info with just 6,000 e-mail subscribers receives 15% of its traffic from e-mail newsletters.
 
If you want to contact security industry people on-line, best choice (by far) is still the old e-mail. I do not see anything coming close to e-mail for years to come.

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