Should security organizations tweet?

JF Champagne
Tuesday April 26, 2011
Written by JF Champagne
People who know me well will tell you how much I like technology. Since 2010, I have religiously written this column on my iPad as a way to experience how technology changes the way we communicate with people. The combination of using portable technology, writing a monthly column and occupying a role representing the Canadian Security Association, one would think that the next natural step would be a blog, or at the very least tweets. But like many of you, I do not.

I should be honest and admit that I did create a blog page in the past. I do have a twitter account at CANASA_ExecDir and I have been posting the odd tweet from time-to-time.

But I think that when it comes down to business, social media has not delivered on its promises.

During our last CANASA National Board of Directors meeting in April, social media was discussed and I was surprised to witness a broad spectrum of opinions on the subject. There was also a fair number of people who clearly stated they are not using social media.

Sure, Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family and with 500 million users it should not be dismissed. LinkedIn is rapidly emerging as the business equivalent of Facebook, allowing people to stay connected at the professional level. And then there is Twitter allowing you to share your life, 140 characters at a time. In the world of seven second ad spots, email preview screens and diagonal reading, I guess it is plenty.

We are being told that social media is the way to engage the new generation and the surest way to reach them. But what I am seeing so far is a new generation that buys music and reads news online rather than in a store, uploads pictures rather than prints them and sends text messages rather than makes phone calls. Many of us do that already across the generations in our family and between friends

Let's make sure not to confuse the issues: having a web presence has been a business requirement for quite a while and now most if not all services being offered today are going web-based in one form or another.

The real question is: should your business invest time and energy in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter? I don't think so. Social media is for people, not organizations. Businesses should simply encourage staff, members, customers and stakeholders to join social media and engage in conversations about the business. Your home base is your website and people will find you there when they are ready to learn more about your business because you will always be in control of your website and the message you wish to communicate, but you will never be able to control social media and what people think of your business.
Ready to experience social media? Come and follow me at CANASA_ExecDir on Twitter. If you join I promise to 'tweet' more often and I will chat more about the people and less about the business.


+2 #4 Michael Jagger 2011-05-27 13:30
I'm divided on this issue.

On the one hand, I'm ok with competitors being slow to understand the value that social media (done properly) can offer their business. As a company that has never done any traditional advertising and relies almost exclusively on social media to generate sales, we save a ton of money that other firms waste on yellow pages, flyers, etc. I'm ok with that.

On the other hand, as a member of an industry that is supposed to be 'high-tech' or at least technology literate, this column is embarrassing. Not only do I completely disagree with what was said, the fact that it was said by someone who has clearly not even attempted to understand how social media works is worse.

Any business that thinks that they can control the conversation is fooling themselves.

Choosing to disengage is foolish. Recommending disengagement on behalf of CANASA is comically foolish.

+9 #3 Lauri Stevens 2011-05-17 09:15
When you write articles like this one you can do a huge disservice to your clients. You don't even use social media yourself, how do you know it's of no value? Before you write ANY article on a subject giving your opinion one way or the other, you need to really know both sides. To tell any business they don't need social media and that it's only for individuals is wrong.

Re: "ready to experience social media? Come and follow me at CANASA_ExecDir on Twitter." Nobody will "experience" social media by following someone who doesn't have a clue. Nobody will "experience" social media until they use it themselves, which you admit you haven't bothered to do.

Businesses need to be using social media to hear what people are saying about them, to join the conversation, to market their services/products with genuine engagement because social media allows people to see them as INDIVIDUAL HUMANS and not just a business.
+9 #2 Bob Rodkin 2011-05-16 22:32
I cannot possibly disagree with this thinking more than I do. JF, your Twitter account statistics hardly qualify you to speak on the subject. Five posts in the past eight months, and you only actually follow six people. That's hardly an effort to base such advice on.

The reality is that companies are present in social media whether they want to be or not. They may elect not to engage in the social chatter, but their customers will talk about them — and disgruntled customers love to chat — whether they are present or not.
-9 #1 pam elkins 2011-04-27 17:08
I completely agree with "Because you will always be in control of your website and the message you wish to communicate but you will never be able to control social medias and what people think of your business."

That has always been our concern - controlling what can and would be said by un-happy customers. I think we will stick with our website and keep the control.

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