Thursday, May 28, 2009

Homeland Security Keeping You Safe with Social Media

Secretary Napolitano requested that this sidebar, from an article PARADE Magazine published about the department in the Sunday, May 24, 2009 issue titled “We Are Prepared and Resilient,” be sent to all employees. In it, she describes the department’s top priority: to “help keep the nation in a state of readiness and help assure the American people that we are prepared and resilient.” The sidebar is available on PARADE’s Web site at The full article is available at

TOP TEN WAYS HOMELAND SECURITY KEEPS YOU SAFE - within this list, are these two social media nuggets:

1) In a sign that they are keeping up with the times, DHS and FEMA now have their own Twitter pages. The agencies post important updates including travel alerts, security threats, weather warnings and other alerts.

2) The U.S. Coast Guard, whose expanding role in national security is vital to several DHS objectives, now uses videos on YouTube to prepare, train and communicate with its agents across the country.

So the question is raised - "what about social media governance, should it be required?"

These uses of "social media" (it's not really a "conversation", but just another kind of alert/notification or simple content-sharing) don't really require the kind of governance I've espoused in earlier posts - it's where individual government representatives are using social media and representing themselves (i.e. uniquely individual personas, rather than a whole department/agency/office), where governance is more necessary - if you've got many individuals publishing information, from the same department or agency, there should be some automated controls over protection of sensitive or private information, proper attribution, record distribution management (i.e. keeping track of what's shared as a matter of government record), release of unverified or possibly conflicting information, and possibly definitions/use of acronyms. However, it shouldn't go overboard - just enough to help and encourage both the government and the public experience a comfortable trust in the dialogue that ensues.

While commercial entities are more advanced than most public service agencies in leveraging social media for public dialogue (it's hard to find major IT consulting and information management shops, for example here at Blackstone Technology Group (@blackstonetech), who aren't already "twittering" both from a corporate perspective and by individual employees) - some degree of automated social media governance (for both inbound and outbound information-sharing) may likely open the floodgates to full realization of the value of this media by governments.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Protecting Your Legacy Personal Digital Assets

Heard a great segment today on NPR's "All Tech Considered" - when you die, what happens to your Internet-hosted digital assets? For example your Facebook wall, your Twitter account, your gmail emails...Most providers of these services have policies from their perspective, and essentially won't turn over any information without proper legal intervention, but have you personally prepared for this? Who specifically do you want managing your domain names, your social IDs, reading your emails, changing your passwords?

It turns out this is quite a quickly-developing "sticky wicket" - mainly because of the diversity of digital assets you may have, the different reasons or causes you only know for maintaining them, and the different circles of friends or business partners who collaborate with you, through one or another online identity. "Legacy Locker" was the first business out of the gate mentioned to be dealing with this, and they are "a safe, secure repository for your digital property that lets you grant access to online assets for friends and loved ones in the event of death or disability."

This sounds like a great idea - but with many more variations of service, capabilities and legal policy to follow. For example, if you own a business and die, how are your customers automatically alerted to this, and to the fact that the IDs/passwords you've maintained for their digital assets are now "unmanaged" or otherwise exposed to loss or possible theft? I think we'll be discussing maintenance of personal digital assets and identities much more very quickly, as social media quickly drives up the value of these objects.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

IBM Impact SEO – Internet Marketing Guidance from a Global Content Network

A very timely and interesting element of a set of marketing principles delivered to IBM business partners at this week’s IBM Impact 2009 conference included this recommendation listed as #1 – attend to your SEO (Search Engine Marketing), and definitely be social about it.

While this isn’t obviously news to most larger companies, and perhaps smaller, who are already rapidly finding Internet marketing as a very cost-effective and valuable outlay of advertising budget, it is interesting to see one of the world's largest marketing engines as IBM promoting SEO to all of their partners. This promotion of online marketing tactics is primarily geared to helping build and extend their own sales channels, but IBM is explicitly noting that Internet Marketing and SEO is an absolute essential activity with clear and significant ROI for everyone.

Although the advice and guidance provided was basic (and promoted services that could be purchased from a key marketing partner), the message was clear. Search engine marketing and optimization, including not only your business website but your social media channels and syndicated content, is an absolute necessity for businesses to thrive in these difficult economic conditions. (It's very important also for Public Service organizations, to help ensure essential and new online services are also easy to find using search engines, in multiple languages.) The subtle messaging to business partners was also clear, at least to those who understand Internet Marketing – by improving and optimizing your site, as an IBM technology and/or service provider, IBM itself benefits from the additional page juice now flowing in more expertly from business websites and hyperlinks, along with broader exposure of IBM syndicated content. This basically results in a "tide that lifts all boats", at least those boats floating in the same stew of keywords and topical phrases.

IBM’s “content network” and search engine presence stands to grow exponentially through providing this sort of advice, especially for keywords, terms and topics which may not include specific IBM products or services, but may require them for implementation. If you're not currently "linked in" to a content network like this – explore outbound links to key suppliers or value-added resellers that not only benefits them, but benefits you in the long run.