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Social Media

Three perspectives on how to use social media

It’s not about sales, it’s about brand awareness, customer trust, recruiting employees

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—When using social media, be consistent, use images or graphics, and find the right outlet for your company, according to representatives from three security companies.

Readers lukewarm on social media and its benefit

For some, social media is integral to brand development and generating leads. For others, the benefits have been harder to identify

YARMOUTH, Maine—The latest SSN news poll shows that while the bulk of readers may be using social media, not all of them are convinced of its effectiveness as a business tool.

LifeShield socially savvy about home security

Monday, June 4, 2012

A lot of companies talk about the need to employ social media to promote home security, but LifeShield Security doesn’t just talk about it—it’s really using the social online space in a wide variety of ways. It doesn’t just have a Facebook page, according to a recent company news release, but uses all kinds of social media, from virtual pinboards to viral memes and videos.

Yardley, Pa.-based LifeShield offers wireless digital home security systems that are self-installed and professionally monitored. I’ve written here before about LifeShield’s penchant for tapping into the popular zeitgeist. For example, LifeShield in 2010 brought on NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino as an investor and to help market its product on TV. In 2011, the company added John Timoney—“America’s Top Cop”—as an advisor to help the company and customers protect against burglars with the aid of Timoney's inside knowledge of criminals’ minds.

Also, LifeShield last year piggybacked on the popularity of Airbnb—an Internet "bed-and-breakfast" service though which people can rent rooms or homes for vacations from private home and apartment owners—by offering a free home security camera promotion to Airbnb landlords.

Recently, LifeShield put out a release detailing its “multi-tiered approach” to social media to attract customers. Here’s more from the June 1 release:

LifeShield has learned how to connect with its users in new ways while also providing a social online atmosphere where customers can engage with each other.

"Popular contests, thousands of Facebook followers, and a growing library of viral videos show just how much consumers have come to love LifeShield," said Shannon Dominello, CMO, LifeShield. "Because LifeShield's wireless technology is as much a lifestyle choice as it is a financial one for customers, we have embraced social media as a way to reach out to them on a personal level and it has really paid off.  We now have a direct line into how they think, communicate and react to us as a company, as well as to general interest news and topics.  This helps us better understand our customers and ultimately, deliver a better product."

LifeShield is present on the Web in multiple ways for customers and potential customers to get involved and have some fun. A sampling of LifeShield's social media presence includes:

•    Infographics on topics like Best Guard Dogs, Residential Home Security and others that deliver real data and information in an easy format with clever images that's fun to read.
•    Facebook page with thousands of followers.  Activity spikes around frequent contests and giveaways where consumers can win the latest tech gadgets.
•    YouTube Channel for Fan and How-To videos for hooking up your LifeShield system. Customers post new videos regularly offering tips and techniques for fellow customers on best ways to install and unique ideas    on securing different areas around the home.
•    Home Security Blog covers crime and home security articles in the news as well as lifestyle and general interest stories.
•    Family and Parenthood Blog for general interest stories geared to Moms.
•    Viral memes and videos is a page listing helpful and entertaining home security "shorts" to help keep the bad out of your home and neighborhood. Samples include "Bad Home Security Ideas" and "Protect what You Love" videos.
•    DIY Pinterest images to interact with customers through virtual pinboards. We pin everything from wireless tech gadgets to DIY home tips.


ESX, day 1 (for me)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Every show needs an identity, right? Something that separates it from the myriad industry events that populate the landscape?

ESX may be getting there. Maybe first and foremost, there is the Club Crawl. Is it a little ridiculous that a large industry event would define itself with a frat-party-like atmosphere on the first day of its show floor? Maybe. Do people seem to really, really enjoy themselves at this Club Crawl. Hell yes.

While it’s true that I thought my soul had gone completely black after watching back-to-back requests of the DJ for playing Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice, Baby” and Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It” (seriously, I questioned my will to live there for a little bit), I had to remind myself that this is not a conference for the music industry, or, really, for people who could be expected to give much of a crap about music created in the last 20 years. Rather, it was a large group of people who all do basically the same thing (talk about security all day) letting their hair down in a major way.

I think that kind of common experience is powerful and it’s going to leave those particular club crawlers with an indelible urge to return to this event, I’d wager. I have no doubt that Charlotte, next year, has plenty of bars.

The PSA-TEC jam is similar, if maybe a little more to my taste (the songs are 40 years old, sure, but at least we’re actually playing them).

And I know that Bill Bozman, head honcho at PSA-TEC, would love to transport some of this event’s focus on RMR to his event.

This event lives and breathes RMR. It’s an alarm industry show more than it is a security industry show, to tell the truth, and I don’t think there’s a single conversation or presentation here that doesn’t eventually wend its way back to RMR in some shape or form. It’s what makes this industry go ’round, and no one here is going to let you forget it.

Remember that ill-fated failure of mine, Security Business Development? Well, at least all of this makes me feel like I had the right idea for the content. As integrators struggle to find new ways to create RMR, these “alarm guys” never have and never will need convincing that setting up more recurring revenue streams is the way to run a successful business.

That’s what just about every educational presentation boiled down to: How to use mobile devices to generate more RMR; how to create RMR in the fire alarm biz; how to use video to create more RMR; what’s your RMR worth?; how can you make your RMR worth more?; how to use verified alarms to make sure your RMR doesn’t go away; how to leverage your RMR so you don’t wind up broke and penniless like Vanilla Ice and Salt-n-Pepa!

Okay, I made that last one up, but you get the idea.

Really, I should have just called that Security Business Development conference “How to make more RMR,” but I guess that wouldn’t have been overly catchy, and probably hard to fit on a big banner.

Anyway, though, I know you’re all like, “how’s the show, how’s the show,” so I’ll get to some of that.

Let’s just say when I saw this scene at the continental breakfast yesterday, I was a little fearful for the show:

breakfast at ESX 2010

And then I walked over to look at the show floor, and it looked like this (before anyone was allowed in):

the ESX 2010 show floor

But it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Firstly, no real programming started until 9:30 yesterday, so when I was there just after 8, there wasn’t much reason to have come over from the hotel yet unless you were going to the CSAA Awards breakfast, and if you were going to that breakfast, you didn’t need to hit the continental breakfast outside. And the CSAA Awards were pretty well attended, with maybe 100-125 people there to see people pick up hardware.

I’ll let you hit Dan’s blog for all the CSAA details, as that’s his beat. We’ve got some video, too, but I’ll have to get back into the office to boil it down properly. It isn’t going to happen on this laptop.

And when the educational programming started yesterday, they were pretty well attended. This is what my room looked like about five minutes before I started my social media presentation:

conference room, ESX 2010

Quite a few people rolled in after that, too. I’d say there were more than 50 people in the room, easily. They were rabid for social media, too. There were very few blackberries being attended to, and there were a ton of questions, many of which I didn’t really have the answers for. Part of my presentation centered around the uncertainty that surrounds the big four social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn (assuming you can still call those the big four). My message: Anyone who tells you they know exactly how this is going to play out, and exactly how you should use these platforms to grow your business is a flat-out liar/charlatan. It’s chaos out there.

But I did give people some background on how people use these platforms today, what people seem to be having success with, and where they should start their efforts. The attendees were pretty positive. I even had one guy from Vector accost me in the aisles of the show floor afterward desperate to know how to get rid of those Farmville updates in his Facebook feed. THAT I could help him with.

But, of course, the question must be asked: All that work for 50 people? Imagine if I was the woman originally scheduled to speak alongside me, who works for SWARM or some other silly name and actually sells social media services. If I wasn’t a journalist covering the industry, would it be worth my time to fly to Pittsburgh and speak to 50 people? I guess if one of them hired me and I could charge them some outrageous fee for my time. But that’s not a great way to staff an educational program is it? With people who are presenting in the hopes of landing a client? Or am I being naive and this is how it’s always been done and that’s just how the world works?

(Also, yes, I know this is the pot calling the kettle black, what with me running TechSec, but I’m just not sure this is a rational way to do things anymore - show floors and educational sessions paired up and all of us standing around in business casual dress with roller bags back in the room that we stuffed extra tight so we wouldn’t have to pay the $25 bag fee (well, not me on that last one, since I always fly JetBlue, but JetBlue gets their money in higher ticket prices now, which is crazy considering people used to call them a budget carrier). But maybe that’s just the kind of thinking that happens in a crappy hotel room at 6 a.m. blogging about security. And by the way, Westin, I love that we’re saving the planet by having us put the key in the little slot to keep the lights on and having them go out when we take the key out, but what happens when I have to pee in the middle of the night and I’ve taken the key out of the slot and the lights in the bathroom won’t turn on?)

Let’s just agree, for now, that everyone here isn’t thinking quite as deeply about the value proposition involved in attending a show down to the last penny. There’s clearly a huge benefit to seeing everyone face to face, in fraternizing with your industry colleagues, in picking up industry gossip, and in sitting in the educational sessions. Listening to a guy from Imperial Capital talk about how they value companies in M&A deals? That seems valuable. Listening to how Bob Ryan and Pat Egan make a killing selling fire services? That seems valuable.

Also, there are some new and different things happening here on the show floor. One of the most interesting, which I really didn’t get when I first learned of it, is this e-Store that IQinVision has set up. On my way to talk about it with Paul Bodell, I actually couldn’t find it because I was looking for the traditional teal color-scheme of IQ, and this is what I eventually found:

IQinVision's paul bodell at ESX 2010

Paul Bodell in orange?!? Will the sun rise in the West tomorrow?

But, seriously, this is pretty interesting. Basically, IQinVision is selling its IQEye basic product line over the Internet directly to any reseller with a credit card, with factory-direct discounts and published MSRPs. Previously, you had to either to through distribution or be a volume-buyer and be a certified dealer and buy directly from IQinVision. Now? You just need a credit card.

They admit this isn’t targeted toward the guys doing 1,000-camera airport jobs. This is for the IT reseller, maybe, who wants to put in a couple of cameras for a client who wants to monitor who comes in the front door. Or for an A/V guy who wants to tack a couple of $500 cameras onto a $20,000 home audio installation. Or, they hope, for an alarm guy who’d like to try out a couple of IP cameras in some installations and see how it goes before diving in whole hog.

Seriously, though: Is this the beginning of the breakdown of the channel? When everyone’s buying through the internet, why would the large manufacturers still sell through distributors? Why not just set up an online store and have people buy directly from them?

Think about a public company like Axis, with huge name recognition and a global reseller network. Why do they need distributors at all? Aren’t the shareholders eventually going to decide that there’s a bunch of margin going out the door for no good reason?

I thought shipping and handling would be a pain they’d want to avoid, but Bodell tells me they’re doing most of the drop-shipping for their distributors anyway, because it’s not like the distributors stock up on a huge inventory of IQinVision cameras. They just pass along the orders. And a larger company like Axis could just contract through a shipping fulfillment house and give up less margin than they’d give up to a distributor, right?

I don’t think it’s going to happen tomorrow, and I don’t necessarily think that IQinVision is setting up an end-around, but I do think online retailing is going to have a continuously bigger impact on the way this industry does business.

Speaking of end-arounds, keynoter Rocky Bleier wasn’t bad yesterday, and the A/V set up was probably the best I’ve ever seen at a security event:

rocky bleier at ESX 2010

His message was kind of rambling and didn’t have a whole lot to do with security, but he told a bunch of funny stories and he had a crazy, sibilant, loud way of speaking that was more than a little entertaining. All the old-time security guys were buzzing about the way he called Terry Bradshaw a pea-brain. I can tell you the association honchos also got a major kick out of being allowed to put on Rocky’s Super Bowl rings. They were like little kids at the ribbon-cutting ceremony where it happened. Good for them. I would have liked to wear one of those rings, too.

Finally, there is Pittsburgh. If you’ll remember, I was an early proponent of the city when ESX announced they were coming here, and if this picture from the beautiful ballpark they have here doesn’t make you want to come, I don’t know what will:

the view from PNC Park at ESX 2010

Add in the fact that you can drink Yuengling at your seats, and that great seats can be had on StubHub for $25, and that the Pirates are entertainingly bad (6 errors!), and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a damn good time.

Just look at how much fun Dan, Martha, and I were having:

Dan, Martha, Sam, at PNC for ESX 2010

Clearly, not too much fun, though, as here I am blogging away at, well, now 8:30 a.m., but it took me a while to write this all, you know. And I can guarantee you I’m up earlier than a lot of those club crawlers…

Who’s going to ESX?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

So, I’m back from vacation and I’ll be in the office for four days before heading out to ESX on Tuesday. Who’s going to this thing?

If you’ll be there, and I haven’t seen you in a while, and you’ve got something interesting to talk about, drop me an email at and let’s schedule an interview. I haven’t received a single media request for this show yet, so I’m a little worried about how seriously people are taking it. I’ve received far more requests for NRFLP which is happening now and we don’t have anyone there.

Also, if you are going and aren’t already hip to how this whole social media thing works for the industry (which is unlikely if you’re a regular reader of my blog), then make sure to come see me at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday next week at ESX, when I’ll be presenting on using social media to increase sales. I wouldn’t have titled it that way, but that’s how they titled it when they invited me and some social media guru to present a few months ago. Of course, the social media guru dropped out (for no particular reason whatsoever, actually - I think she just sniffed out that there might not be a big crowd) and now I’m presenting by myself.

Still, it should be pretty good. I’m happy with my presentation on the “big four” - LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter - and if you’re in the beginner stages, you’ll get a lot out of it. If you’re what you would consider a frequent user of social media, I’d say my presentation would be interesting, and might make you think differently about a few things, but would be a little below your general level of understanding.

Since the CSAA is just educating people on what a “hash-tag” is, I’m guessing the targeted attendee for my presentation should be a novice or just above.

Martha and Dan are also coming, and Martha is presenting on the summer sales model on Tuesday, so we’ll be fully staffed for the event (should I be regretting that?). If you want to talk just about anything in the industry, drop us a line and let’s get together.