In a day and age when social media threats have become commonplace, more and more companies and government agencies are realizing that it’s quite difficult to find an expert on social media threats that can keep their organizations or those that they protect safe. This article will touch on the reasons why there aren’t many subject-matter experts and what you should look for when hiring a consultant.
The fact is that social media threats are a relatively new phenomenon, which began spiraling out of control in 2012. Three years later, everyone from celebrities to Fortune 100 companies have become victims, and terrorist activity on social media threatens national security.
As threats evolved, defense agencies and private security firms have followed suit, however history shows that they’re behind the times because they have taken a reactive approach to combating threats as opposed to being armed with intelligence and proven strategies to go on the offensive. This roadblock has subsequently hindered the effectiveness of threat detection and suppression efforts.
Why Are Social Media Threat Experts Hard to Find?
Unlike being able to pickup the phone and reach an experienced design or marketing consultant within a few rings, experts on social media threats are scarce.
Private security firms often employ either off-duty or retired personnel from local and federal law enforcement agencies for physical security as well as intelligence gathering. Unfortunately, they’re great at what they do, but do not have intimate knowledge of social media and years of research and development under their belts. And we shouldn’t expect them to.
Government agencies are responding to the times and working rapidly to establish new departments aimed at improving social media threat detection capabilities and counter-messaging strategies. But in the end, their missions are reactive not forward-thinking.
Cybersecurity firms have noticed the rapid increase in social media threats and are jumping on the bandwagon, but their true expertise lies in fending off cyber-attacks aimed at servers or social engineering schemes that could grant outsiders access to sensitive data.
Above and beyond everything, social media was never a problem in the past, so research and the development of threat monitoring solutions began only after the issue surfaced.
The Big Disconnect
The reality is that a true subject-matter expert will have many years of experience working with social media itself, which is the core of the problem. We can’t expect people to learn on the fly and suddenly have all of the solutions. We also can’t rely on tactics that aren’t proven and come with unknown ramifications.
Hiring a Consulting Firm
If your organization has faced social media threats in the past or you’re worried about threats in the future, you’re likely reading this article because there’s a serious need for guidance. And when looking to retain a top-tier consulting firm, here are a few things to inquire about:
- Years of experience and examples of expertise in the field
- Third-party validation (i.e. cited in major publications)
- Case studies
As the Founder and CEO of Soteria Intelligence, I have been studying social media for the past 15 years (before it was coined social media) and have devoted my career to understanding social networks, online behavior, and ways to use social media for everything from marketing to threat assessment. I had the foresight to know that social media threats would become a major problem, so I began my research in 2010 and developed strategies and technologies to combat threats.
Over the years large organizations ranging from billion-dollar celebrity brands to Fortune 100 companies have come to me for guidance on complex social media initiatives, which has given me a wealth of knowledge that others simply do not have.
My research, forward-thinking strategies and success have positioned me as an innovator and a leader in the industry, which is an honor. I have had the opportunity to speak at various conferences, was featured in webinars (one for PostRank on social media analytics before the company was acquired by Google), have been cited in publications ranging from magazines and newspapers (Columbia Journalism Review, The Guardian, etc) to college textbooks, and appeared on radio programs (BBC, NPR).
The moral of the story: Find a true expert to guide your organization to ensure you won’t only see what’s in front of you, but also what’s around the next turn.