There is no doubt about it, social media has become one of the fabrics of who we are as a society, and the Tsunami of information coming our way on a daily basis can be overwhelming at times.
Social media can quickly become all things to all people meaning that one can find exactly what they’re looking for at any time, anywhere, and at the stroke of a key, or swipe of a computer screen. However, the technology can also work against you when someone is negligent in their use or management of it.
Let me start by saying at the outset, I’m not a medical professional, and these statements and opinions are my own as an Executive Protection Specialist. Social media and “Social Management” are two different terms and must be distinguishable in order to use social media correctly. For example, your actions on the internet, or your social media management, can determine your
success in Executive Protection. For the past couple of months, I’ve explored some of the incredible facets of social media, as well as the pitfalls of social media that many people fall foul of today.
Assessing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google to get a good cross-section of delivery platforms for online media, I was struck by the vast amount of information which is processed every minute. For example, studies have shown that social media gains 840 new customers a minute, and according to Twitter, the number of tweets sent per minute, since 2013 has increased 58% to more than 455,000 tweets. In 2017, 4.1 million videos were being watched every minute alone. Now, I don’t want to venture too deep into this rabbit hole of stats but bear with me as these will help to illustrate some of the points we’ll consider later.
In 2017, Instagram users uploaded 4.6 million posts per minute and in the same year 510,000 comments were posted to Facebook every minute, while 293,000 statuses were updated, and 136,000 pictures uploaded. Facebook users also clicked the “like” button on more than 4 million posts, on average, every minute. And finally, consider that worldwide, 15 million texts are sent a minute, and Google conducts more than 5 million searches per minute, worldwide, each and every day. Incredible!
These numbers continue to grow daily and amount to billions of pieces of information sent daily. At last count, an estimated 3.6 billion people are active on social media – almost half the global population. Knowledge is power, as we all know, but differing opinions exist on how much information is a good thing. For the purposes of this article, that’s not my focus, nor am I qualified to judge, but in my professional opinion, I do consider social media to be one of the most useful networking tools that has ever been created. When social media is used and managed correctly, it can be to the great benefit of executive protection agents everywhere. Just consider the numbers I cited earlier and think of the millions upon millions of potential business contacts alone that we have access to. We now have an audience of millions who we can propose new business ideas to, we can quickly generate attention for a specific cause, or gain new clients within a few clicks. Every time you post on social media, as you know, your thoughts are instantly shared for all to see or hear. Social media is the most effective way for you to enhance your personal and career goals if used correctly.
The management of “information”, or your use of social media has to be a reflection of who you are as a person and as an Executive Protection Specialist. What does that mean? Whatever you do online must be professional, period. This craft is 24/7, so our dedication to everything we do must be to the best of our ability, including social media engagement. Our profession, as well as its members, cannot be lulled into a sense of a freewheeling information highway when it comes to what we do every day. More and more I’m dismayed by the casual approach in which some peers demonstrate a disregard of our core responsibilities, which takes us to the other side of social media, the Management of “information”. The management of your social media could lead you towards making the most significant mistakes of your career. Keep in mind that increasingly, background checks now incorporate social media searches to establish who you are as a person.
Spend any significant time on the Facebook message boards and you’ll see multiple posts along the lines of, “I’m coming out of ‘xyz’ service, how do I get a job?” That’s great but who are you? Why do you think this profession is for you?
Even more problematic is the commonly seen line, “Anyone coming to my city, yo hit me up, I’m available!”
Great! But bad grammar aside, who have you worked for, and why would I “hit you up, yo”?
In another post, I saw a bodyguard who says that he does weddings; funerals, sweet sixteen’s, and celebrity close-protection for a reasonable price.
Disturbingly, I see supposed “professionals” posting and promoting hate speech and political ideals not conducive to who we are as impartial protectors, and then, they can’t for the life of them, figure out why the phone never rings. One of the biggest mistakes individuals are making more over is in the posting of photos. Is it professional to ask or take a picture with EVERY client you work with, and then post it to social media? While some think this is a great way of being “relevant” in our industry, I beg to differ.
Relevance is something that happens in a very organic way when you set a professional standard to your work for others to see. How do you tell a potential employer or client that you value their privacy, for instance? you can’t because all you do is post pictures of them or even worse, pictures of YOU with them! How can I as an agency owner trust you to be a “keeper of secrets” when all you do is post information about your detail on social media?”
In my opinion, as a professional body, we must refrain from going outside of our core fundamentals. Our mission is to ensure the safety of our clients, and not to identify photo opportunities to provide social proof that we’re working. In a career where your personal opinion rarely means anything, why do some continue to write posts which will only damage their professional standing? As a community of trained professionals, in order for us to grow and be recognized for the fantastic work we do every day, we must be accountable for our actions and while I encourage self-promotion, let us do it in a way that adds to our industry as a whole. We are taught to be selfless, humble and confidential and most of all, professional. If we fail in that then what are we?
Social Media & Social Management
By Mark Roche EPS
Mark Roche works full time as a US-Based Executive Protection Specialist and a graduate of multiple close protection programs.