3.29.23 > Paul Veeneman
Occasionally I am asked, “How do you decide what to post on social media?” First, it was a learning experience, and second, posts, articles, or other submission of content always start by asking myself, “Is this relevant, informative, of value, and would I take 2 minutes out of my day to read it?” 120 seconds. In the world of 15-second sound bites, it might be asking a lot. Getting to know the audience, figuring out “for Whom” is a big part of the question.
The Whos are a fictional community of joyful folk that live in Whoville. Everyone’s Whoville is different.
My Whoville is a diverse community of folk from all over the world, an assortment of personalities, experience, and backgrounds connected by a focus on technology, cybersecurity, compliance, and generally driven to stop bad things from happening to good data. This can make identifying content and content creation a very interesting challenge. Often writing a post or an article, I will have certain individuals in mind or focus on a particular group, and on some occasions, get stuck between words and phrases that may excite some but irritate others. This underscores the “connection” that can develop between yourself and an audience if you allow it, establishing relationships, and channels of communication and collaboration, and identifying common threads.
One common thread in my Whoville…time is precious. Protecting the world’s data takes time. It takes determination. It requires sifting through endless amounts of information in a constantly changing landscape, where around every corner something or someone is trying to ruin your day. Recognizing that time is a premium for the audience requires that messages are succinct, content that can be scanned, absorbed, and digested quickly. Some social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., have a predetermined character count limit, further ensuring brevity.
I started where most people do…personal items of interest, occurrences in technology and cybersecurity that I encountered. Each day had new experiences, challenges, and outcomes. I had a cornucopia of content for write-ups and commentary. However, with each subsequent post, a pattern began to emerge…oddly enough…same “likes” from the same folks. I reviewed my phrases, words, sentence structure, etc., checked the tags, included those with larger followings, and made sure to incorporate the tags into the posts. What I realized is that these items were very interesting…to me…and a few close Who that I knew. This brings to light a bit of the Why. I needed to pause on the What, and reevaluate my Why.
When trying to find some What, I needed to be cognizant of the Why.
Understanding the Why of what I was posting, and what was my incentive. I needed to be very honest with myself. There are a variety of reasons that individuals post content to social media, from the very benevolent and generous of intentions, to the influencer seeking fame and fortune, and everything in between. My objective was to provide information and content that I was passionate about (or else “why” do it), but would also provide material that could be helpful or supportive to others, thought provoking, enabling constructive debate and exchange of ideas.
Now that I had my Why figured out, it was time to get back to What. More research was needed. There were people on social media that I was following, found their content interesting, informative, and expanded my understanding and knowledge in technology and cybersecurity…similar to my own goal and objective. The not-so-subtle difference was the much broader focus they had. Content changed from day to day, topics were relevant to national and global events, industry innovation and advancements, excerpts from seminars, conferences, etc., etc. These folks had source material, I needed source material. The personal discovery was that, as opposed to those that I followed on social media, my focus was very myopic…emphasis on the “my”. There was a lot of work to do. But now I had a plan for What, that aligned with Why, and might interest Who.
I’ll preface the next section with this; there are many subscriptions, services, and applications available today that automate many of the tasks and activities that I am about to describe. I still don’t use any of them. I am not against these services, nor have I had a bad experience. I know many individuals that use the services and are very happy with the results. I just enjoy the search for buried treasure, finding those rare golden nuggets of information. But doing your own digging certainly increases the amount of time and effort involved.
The Internet is a big place with a lot of What lying around. The question is, “Where to find good What and separate that from the not-so-good What, and what What would the interest the Who?” What do we do when we have a question to answer, we Google things…well now we ChatGPT…but we used to Google things, and that was where I started…or restarted my search for interesting information.
Search engines, and we’ll throw in social media aggregators too, provide some of the fastest ways to get information.
Search engines are the aforementioned Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others. The aggregators are another class that can be useful with a bit of a learning curve. There’s Flipboard
, and Pocket
to name a few. There are free versions, premium versions, and most require paid subscriptions to access useful features. Aggregators can be customized to suit your needs, topic selection, automated curation from multiple sources, and organizing content in a visually appealing way that makes it very easy to scan through and pick out headlines or images that grab attention. In addition to collecting content for you, social media aggregators can turn you on to new sources that are adjacent to your interests that you may not have stumbled upon previously. All of these capabilities save time and effort while keeping you informed.
International, federal, and state agencies, regulatory and standards organizations are a very important source of content.
Also, the information from these outlets is going to be extremely relevant across numerous industries and sectors, increasing the potential interest for members of your audience and possible newcomers that will choose to follow you based on the timelines of your content as it relates to them. Many of these agencies and organizations are very well known already, such as the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS), the Critical Infrastructure Security Agency
(CISA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST), the International Organization for Standardization
(ISO), or the International Society of Automation
(ISA), just to name a few. One of the primary advantages to these agencies and organizations is providing trustworthy and authoritative information, distribution of research and analytical data, and thought leadership towards new policy or updates to existing policy.
Accessing all of the previously mentioned categories content sources, in a short period of time, I was able to find current and relevant information on a broad range of topics within the technology and cybersecurity focus I was looking for. What I noticed is that many of these hits in the search engines were also blogs, news sites, and digital periodicals and websites, that in the past decade replaced the hardcopy monthly industry magazines, were covering events and topics from the content sources I was researching. Some are well known today, Bleeping Computer
, The Hacker News
, Dark Reading
, Industrial Cyber
, Help Net Security
, and many others. I started following some of the news sites and periodicals, Liking some of the posts from these groups, exchanging comments and dialogue within the posts. Unintentionally, this led to making connections with editors and writers at these various outlets. I came to find out that these writers and editors are also looking for content. However, since they are creating the articles, their sources are folks from industries, like us, who have real-world experience, insight, and knowledge that provides credibility and authenticity to their stories.
If there are writers that you follow more consistently and enjoy their articles, if they have a social media account such as LinkedIn, I suggest sending a personalized connection request, open a dialogue. Establishing these relationships was a significant step forward for me. I was very fortunate to find some amazing writers, recognized leaders in their areas of journalism, and learn many of the ins and outs of finding or creating good information. These relationships fostered opportunities to participate in articles, create some of my own, and gain a better understanding of good source content.
There’s the idea today, and certainly some truth to it, that many articles we encounter are the excessive aggregation of links of some original source story in some corner of the Internet somewhere. Everyone has some investigative work to do. Whether it’s verifying the source of sources, tracking down the origin story, or simply determining if the content you are about to post is an article that one of your outlets has been delayed, and it may already have a day or more of mold on it.
Once I was able to build a library of content sources, establish a particular style and structure to the posts, adhering to succinct delivery, I needed to ensure a level of consistency.
“Consistency” is centric to the creator and blends the Why, Who, and What. I stated previously the Why was to have good content that people find informative and useful. My goal was not to be an influencer, I am not seeking fame or fortune. I enjoy establishing new relationships with like-minded individuals, Who, and the exchange of ideas and information, What.
Any search of the Internet for keys to social media success, regardless of your objective, will typically identify consistency as a major contributor. This can be consistency of relevance, quality, and frequency. Curating community is no different than curating content, and as I found throughout the process, it all takes equal parts work and effort.
Paul Veeneman, IT & OT/ICS Cybersecurity and Risk Management
With over 25 years of experience across various industries including Finance, Oil and Gas, Healthcare and Manufacturing, Paul has been actively working within the Nation’s critical infrastructure, addressing challenges, providing guidance, insight and innovation in Operations Technology, Industrial Controls, IoT, IIoT, SCADA cyber security knowledge, expertise, and education.
You can Follow and Connect with Paul on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulveeneman/
Visit Paul’s Think Tank Advisor Page at https://www.cybersecuritysummit.org/speakers/paul-veeneman/