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Open your mind to social media

Like many of you, I find myself reading a number of articles related to our industry.

May 13, 2016  By  Richard McMullen

Traditional media, including television news and newsprint was a daily ritual that I enjoyed.

I have also become a fan of Twitter and find myself engaged in this social media outlet that provides me with timely information on current affairs, news events and a variety of chatter on wide ranging subjects.

About two years ago, while I was attending a dinner event in Toronto, conversation turned to social media and the impact social media has on society.

Our tablemate recounted a story on the positive impact social media had on the retirement announcement of one of his colleagues. A Twitter post was shared about the retirement of a Toronto Police officer and suddenly news began to spread.


Well-wishers helped celebrate the occasion that included several local traditional media outlets covering the event. Somewhat fascinated, I began to explore the benefits, that social media could have with our business and my volunteer engagements.

Social media was instrumental in the safe return of a newborn baby abducted from a Trois-Rivières hospital in 2014. A group of four young people had seen the posting detailing information about the suspect and video surveillance images captured from the hospital’s surveillance system.

All of this occurred within the first few hours of the abduction. The suspect was recognized and identified to police from a Facebook posting. Every share and view pushed this vital information to the public. The public responded by alerting authorities to the suspect. Police were able to return the child to the anxious parents and arrest the suspect responsible for the abduction. That’s a pretty powerful example of social media aiding in the solving of a crime.

Crime Stoppers has been using social media for a number of years to help raise awareness about crime and engage the assistance of the public. I can tell you that this works well and helps contribute to successful outcomes.
So, somewhat reluctantly, I signed on with Twitter in May 2014. Since then, I have tweeted and retweeted over 2,500 messages. Twitter has been an amazing forum for acknowledging the efforts and accomplishments of others. I had some coaching along the way and stumbled through the initial months as I built followers and a better understanding. Don’t kid yourself — this takes work and effort.

I also discovered that many of the traditional media sources that I enjoy reading and watching have a Twitter presence. Often, Twitter had the reports of the latest news events as the news unfolded. Links to more complete stories and other media provided more than the 140 character posting limit allow. Images and videos also provide information for viewing.

Twitter continues to be a great platform to share information. My question was: how can we use this as a business tool? Can it beneficial and rewarding? Yes, it can be all those things and more. You have to be cautious and consider the messages, interpretations and privacy concerns. Jump in and begin following others, tweeting and retweeting.

Our supply partners, clients and industry embrace social media. Almost every supplier we deal with uses Twitter to promote products and services.
Twitter can be a tremendous tool to show off your business to a wider community. Highlight milestone achievements of staff, good work and other interesting events. Take advantage of the connection you can have with potential clients. Some organizations run advertising campaigns and promotions on social media.

Showcasing your attributes and differentiation to an audience that may include your next segment of clients is not just trendy, it may be helpful for business. Follow similar organizations from across the country and learn more about how they go to market. Follow organizations like CANASA and SP&T News to see the latest industry news. There are limitless amounts of information you can explore and share.  

Richard McMullen (@Richard_FCi) is partner, security solutions, FCi (www.fci.ca), and national president of CANASA (www.canasa.org).

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