SASIG talk: The business and personal case for social media

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The following are notes and slides from our presentation today at the winter conference of SASIG (Security Awareness Special Interest Group).

Security is about dealing with risk. I’m going to be talking about opportunity, but also a different kind of risk: that of inaction.

The choice for security professionals is not whether to allow organisations to take risk and help manage it. It is a role of balancing between two sets of unknowns: the risk of allowing its people to use social computing tools in their everyday work, and the risk of doing nothing.

Sometimes blocking is the apparently easy option: it looks like the safe thing to do, even if it is creating unknown risks. Sometimes security (or compliance, or legal) professionals are co-opted by over-conservative executives, to legitimise their avoidance of taking on a new challenge.

As security professionals you need to make sure you are not being used in this way. You need to be aware of the bigger picture around social media, of the risks for organisations in not allowing social media use.

To understand the risk of inaction, of preventing or limiting the ability of your employees, especially knowledge workers, we need to talk about the context. We need to understand how to frame the business case for using social media – and the personal case.

At Brilliant Noise, our job is very often one of helping define the online world in which a brand or organisation finds itself. Setting the context is about the story the organisation is going to tell itself about what is happening in digital, in social media, and how it affects it.

Social is the shift

The context is one where “social media” as a term is sometimes bigger than the sum of its parts: it represents a major shift in society, culture, politics and commerce. While working with our client Nokia, the phrase “social is the shift” became a useful mantra, a headline for what social media represents.

Because, even trying to restrain ourselves, to qualify our insights, the scope of social media is huge. Here is a quote from Rupert Murdoch from 2006. Back then I used to use this quote to help legitimise social media and the web as an issue, something media and brand owners should take seriously.

These days it has taken on a different meaning:

It is difficult, indeed dangerous, to underestimate the huge changes this revolution will bring or the power of developing technologies to build and destroy not just companies but whole countries.

When we look at the events of 2011, from political movements in the Middle East and the West to the collapse of, say, a newspaper in the UK, this comment is prescient to say the least. Social media have changed the rules of the game for politics, for the news cycle, for how power works.

References

Here are links to some of the source material and further reading for the talk today:

Slides

View more presentations from Antony Mayfield