Social Media Not Embraced by Security Market

By John Honovich, Published Sep 02, 2009, 08:00pm EDT

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.

To that end, Johnson Control's Twitter Contest [link no longer available] 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.

Here's a couple points to consider:

  • Maybe there are 200 - 300 total people regularly using Twitter inside the physical security market.  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 [link no longer available] is one of the larger ones and it has only 203 members over 1.5 years and very little new posts each week.
  • Even RSS feeds are rarely used by security people. IPVM has about 700 RSS subscribers (which is quite small and still about 500% more than the trade magazines feeds). 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.
 
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 industry, the IP Video Market Info group has over 700 people including a lot of dealers, integrators and distributors [Update 2012: ~4900 members]. 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.
 
If you are not using social media but you are probably not missing out on much (at least for security topics). If you are considering using social media for security, set your expectations low.

[Update 2012: We now estimate 2000 - 3000 total people regularly using Twitter inside physical security. The good news is that its 10x growth over a 3 year period. The bad news is that it still represents a minority of the industry. It's coming along but it sill make take another 3 - 5 years for mainstream use.]

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