What role can social media play in security?
Our society is engulfed in social media, from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube and all the rest. Among other benefits, social media provides an immediate and accessible form of communication. They say that social media is changing everything in our society, so we wondered what specific impact social media might have on the security marketplace. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What role can social media play in the security marketplace and/or as a tool to promote better security in general?
Social media is an important part of our business plan because it’s an effective communications tool. It helps us in a number of areas including marketing, recruiting and customer service. Each platform –whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn – talks to a different audience and allows us to share information about our company and industry. The best part is that it’s a two-way street. Our followers also share valuable information and feedback with us. As a security manufacturer, one of the platforms we find very valuable is our YouTube channel. On YouTube you can find how-to videos on everything from tying a bowtie to baking a wedding cake. Translate that into our industry, and we can provide our customers and partners with videos showing them features of our products as pre-sales tools. Post-sales videos demonstrate how to set up and install our intercoms. It’s a great customer service tool.
Social media has weaved its way into our daily lives and is an integral part of our interaction with customers in the marketplace. Social media outlets bring the human element to interfacing with our communities and customers. This humanisation allows us to address sensitive topics like the recent events in Orlando and how to take preventative measures in the future. The security marketplace can take advantage of the broad audience social media reaches and educate them on how to protect themselves by securing their buildings or property. These channels of communication create a community, where customers can share best practices and increase the level of professionalism for the entire group. This community becomes a resource to collect insight into the daily roadblocks of customers and to bring the opportunities for the marketplace to light faster.
We’re seeing exciting emerging developments with social media beyond marketing. At American Fire & Security, we leverage Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post educational information and tips and provide greater awareness of safety and security. But now a growing trend is for local communities, police, fire and first responders to communicate emergencies. It’s also used by our police and Neighbourhood Watch groups to warn consumers of scams, suspicious activities or break-ins occurring in certain areas. People are finding out about security issues or disasters instantly via the smart phone. In fact, my latest smart phone includes a new mass notification feature that, in the event of a disaster or other problem, automatically shuts down all applications to conserve battery life and initiates a flashlight app feature. It’s interesting that, with the emergency notification function, only two applications remain open: Facebook and Twitter. That’s how people get their information today.
At Powered Protection Inc. we use social media in many ways to promote better security. Social media allows us to distribute valuable information to our current and potential clients – information such as local and state life safety code updates. For example, in New York State, part 1228 of Title 19 NYCRR was amended by adding a new section 1228.4. This section covers the provisions of carbon monoxide detection and the application, installation, performance and maintenance of carbon monoxide alarms and carbon monoxide systems in new and existing commercial buildings. In other words, all commercial buildings in the state of New York must have carbon monoxide protection. We also use social media as a tool to promote new technology available to help protect our clients. Finally, Powered Protection Inc. uses social media as an avenue for clients to share their experience with Powered Protection Inc. with the rest of the world.
Social media has wide potential for security. First, the channels can be used by government or the media to provide vital public safety information about incidents in progress, hazardous conditions or other dangers. These posts will be quickly shared, helping to spread the news rapidly. Security solutions providers can also effectively utilise social media to offer valuable information and resources to the industry as part of a strategic content program. But the greatest value of social media as a security tool may lie in the tendency of criminals to post about their intentions and accomplishments. Incredible as it seems, people who do bad things like to tell the world about them – often with pictures and video. Employers and law enforcement now routinely search the public profiles of individuals to see if they’ve committed criminal activity. For all those reasons, social media offers significant value to anyone in a security role.
Social media is a fantastic communications medium, especially when it comes to our continued fascination and obsession with instant notification via the smart phone. In 2015, nearly 60 percent of the population had smart phones and by 2019 more than 70 percent are expected to have cellular phones in hand. And with that growing audience, more users are relying on their smart phones for quick information about security, safety tips, community alerts and notification of emergencies or disasters. By leveraging social media more fully, security companies are now able to stay in constant communications with customers, providing tangible and valuable information or even announcing new services or specials. They are also able to leverage it to elevate their stature in the community, notify the public about recent awards or accolades and show that they are concerned with much more than security hardware.
Social media has risen in prominence across society and for the security industry. As a manufacturer, popular social media platforms are another method to reach customers and provide them with information we think they will find useful, such as new products, features, and partnerships, what other customers are doing with our products, making recommendations on best practices and activities, and providing industry news and commentary. In return, customers have the ability to provide unfiltered feedback directly to the manufacturer, which can identify issues and opportunities. The immediacy of social media gives the industry overall the ability to monitor real-world events and issues, and get immediate feedback that can help shape a manufacturer’s or provider’s response and priorities, and thus can be valuable in promoting better security in general.
Our panellists offer plenty of great ideas about how social media can be used in the context of security, and great examples of ways it is being used today. Among other things, more of us are depending on social media smart phone apps as a source of information, providing new levels of immediacy that dovetail well into security, specifically in areas of emergency notification. Another useful element of social media is the ability to provide feedback about a company and its products. Good companies know the critical value of feedback and want as much of it as they can get.