A journey into social media for security professionals: Part 3

Tyler Schmoker - LinkedIn in the security industry

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In the third and final installment of this exclusive series with Security Journal Americas, Tyler Schmoker, MPA, PROSCI, takes a look at the future of LinkedIn, within the context of the security industry.

A recap

In the previous articles in this series, we looked at the effects of the global pandemic and a growing sense of professional isolation had on usage and engagement on LinkedIn.

We also examined how the changing social norms on LinkedIn made the platform feel more diverse and inclusive for many, leading to membership growth overall.

Similarly, we covered some of the criticisms brought forth with the changes, citing that the platform had become perhaps a bit too “business casual”, detracting from the original intent of “the world’s largest professional network”.

In this third and final installment of the series, I’ll be sharing insights into opportunities that presented themselves with these changes, as well as what I learned in the process of decoding the platform that I also consider “the world’s largest globally integrated CRM”.

The most asked question I receive from security industry colleagues about my own more than three-year LinkedIn content creator experiment is…. why do it?

When you consider the sensitive nature of the work performed 24/7/365 by security professionals, in an industry chalked full of second-career ex-military and law enforcement professionals to boot, it stands to reason that the security industry inherently lands on the more conservative end of the professional social media spectrum.

So, when I first started posting day-in-the-life, human interest content with a security and preparedness spin on LinkedIn, I was keenly aware that it was likely going to be met with some skepticism.

Back in 2020, with the exception of a couple of very early cowboy-hatted LinkedIn security industry trailblazers from the generation prior, publicly posting or even acknowledging, a.k.a. “liking”, more individualized content on LinkedIn was not considered professionally or socially acceptable by the industry back then.

This unwritten, yet widely accepted rule, held true, especially among junior and mid-career professionals that almost nobody had ever heard of, myself included.

Developing a recognizable professional brand and posting more individualized content on LinkedIn for somebody of no particular stature in the security industry at the time wasn’t necessarily encouraged, so why do it?

Short answer, in a word… opportunity.

As for the long-form answer, it really boils down to a few key opportunities that I recognized while still a silent observer of the security industry on LinkedIn, so to speak.

The following are the key opportunities I identified, in no particular order.

An untapped security audience

I recognized early on that individual content creators in other industries on LinkedIn were crafting content to reach their ideal clients much more effectively than the security industry in many cases.

Not only was their professionally relevant content reaching their ideal clients, but also elicited leads’ responses translated through content engagement, which then funnels into establishing rapport, building relationships and trust, and ultimately converting offers to sales; sound familiar, strategic sellers?

By contrast, back then and still to this day, much to the content coming out of the security industry, formal and professional as it may be, often fails to actually get beyond the confines of the security industry itself.

Consumers in the LinkedIn mainstream that are not necessarily security-oriented professionals, but rather secondary consumers of security products and services, are therefore less likely to see, much less engage with, content that is written by security professionals.

The opportunity in my view, was in focusing less on LinkedIn content geared toward industry insider acceptance and more so in crafting content for outside consumers to consume.

Know your audience, understand your ideal client profile (ICP) and write to that, before the request for proposal (RFP) for an edge.

Security needs more characters and storytellers

As previously mentioned, while the security industry did already have its earliest adopting LinkedIn trailblazers in cowboy hats, the security industry also has a need for alternative voices in the space, representative of professionals earlier into their careers.

This provides the opportunity to share contemporary points-of-view with greater emphasis on the future of the industry, as well as future-of work considerations in general, through the lens of security professionals at the beginning of their careers.

Finding the next-gen security talent

Coming from many years in manpower/guard services, I knew all too well that if there’s one thing that’s always in high demand for the security industry, it’s good people.

Let’s face it, it’s always been a challenge attracting and retaining people in entry level and junior management roles that are increasingly being viewed as less desirable work among younger generations.

This issue is further confounded by a looming US demographic decline with the largest working-age population, the Baby Boomers, on the verge of retiring in in mass.

On top of that, their “replacements”, Gen X, are considerably smaller in number and the newest working generation that has recently just begun entering the US workforce, Gen Z, also happens to be the smallest working generation in modern American history.

Leading geopolitical strategist and leading expert in the study of global population decline and its influence on countries’ industrial capacity and means of production, Peter Zeihan, has indicated that there is currently a 400,000 worker shortage in the US and within the next 20 years he’s projecting that this will peak at an over 900,000 shortfall.

In a nutshell, it’s no longer simply an issue of “people just don’t want to work anymore”, but rather a question of “what people”?

US workforce woes are only going to become more challenging and the war for what top talent is still up for grabs is about to get more competitive than ever before.

What this means then is that organizations and leaders in the security industry, and in manned guarding companies in particular, are going to need to become far more open to the idea of meeting the younger generations of talent with more relatable and consumable content where they actually consume it… on the socials.

With these workforce conditions now set, “business casual” LinkedIn which is attracting more younger Millennial and Gen Z users, while simultaneously hosting collocated company and employee bios, job postings and applicant online resumes all in one platform, is ideally positioned to present a key competitive market for organizations investing in leveraging the platform optimally.

That’s the big picture why I also wanted to share some tips for other security professionals out there who are interested in leveling up their LinkedIn strategy game.

First and foremost, it’s a matter of understanding your intent and your audience.

Your intent is what you aim to accomplish on the platform, whether that’s lead-gen, marketing products/services, talent sourcing, etc…

Once that’s been defined, there are functionally two distinct areas that need to be addressed: front-end profile optimization and back-end content strategy, or what I like to call, ‘LinkedIn Tradecraft’.

Profile optimization

When you get started on LinkedIn, make sure to put your best branding foot forward by populating all relevant sections of your profile with the same level of detail and care as you would your resume.

Also, focus on maintaining consistency between your resume and the Experience Section of your LinkedIn.

Hiring managers will reference both for shortlisted candidates.

A quality profile picture, complimented by a custom banner and an eye-catching Headline Section should serve as a compelling preview into who you are holistically as a professional and will give a more differentiated and memorable presentation than a generic “Though Leader | Innovator | Visionary | Problem-Solver” headline and a default LinkedIn gray backdrop.

The Featured Section is among the most useful, yet undercapitalized portions of the LinkedIn profile.

This section of the profile is among the most external link-friendly sections and can be a great place to feature a short-cut to a company website, a podcast you were interviewed on, an article you had published in a professional journal like Security Journal Americas for example, and the list goes on.

These three profile optimization tips are among the easiest ways to start making your LinkedIn profile look like it was done by a pro!

Content strategy

  • It takes time to develop an audience of fans. Be patient
  • Posts that perform well are typically informative, educational, inspiring or entertaining. The most successful content creators are able to seamlessly incorporate multiple elements of these content pillars in every single post
  • Including pictures can increase the surface area of your post in the feed by as much as 10x and significantly increase the probability that readers will stop scrolling to click “….see more” and read the post. It’s estimated that the average LinkedIn user spends approximately seven minutes on the platform per day. Give readers a reason to stop that rapid scroll on your post
  • Take advantage of the Recency Effect with your content by including a consistent, compelling closer, at the conclusion of each post. This reminds the reader who you are, what you do now, what you’ve done previously (professional credibility), where they can find you (names linked to LinkedIn profile and company pages) and increase the chances they will remember you and revisit your content again

On that note, this seems as logical a place to conclude this article. Until next time security professionals, stay capable!

Read the previous installment of Tyler’s series here.

About Tyler

Tyler Schmoker is a retired Army Combat Arms Senior Non-commissioned Officer, former Paramilitary Advisor and Strategic Projects Consultant to Fortune 500s.

He has worked in corporate security, strategy, project/program management and tech. He is an avid Alpine climber and endurance athlete.

Tyler is the Founder and Principal at Winsly LLC, a high-performance consulting and advisory services firm.

He is also the creator of LinkedIn Tradecraft; a course offering that incorporates human psychology, social sciences, Fortune 500 consulting and military intelligence best-practices into comprehensive LinkedIn strategies.

Connect with Tyler on LinkedIn here.

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