The question is no longer ‘who is on social media?’; it is ‘who isn’t?’ Nearly 20 million Canadians communicate via social media. One in two online Canadians visit a social media site at least once a week, and 35% of us do so every day. Emerging technologies in the areas of mobile technology and app development are giving us new social platforms to express ourselves; they are shaping our consumption behaviours. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are among the biggest corporate brands out there. Arriving amid great fanfare, Google+ will doubtlessly be amassing a large following as well. Social media is used for recruitment by 4 out of 5 companies, and LinkedIn is used almost exclusively for this purpose.
And why not? For companies, social media presents new channels and avenues of reaching clients. It gives companies visibility and relevance. The wave of change is fast sweeping the entertainment, health, finance, communications, video gaming and many other sectors of the economy and driving persistent change in business practices in Canada and around the world. Social media is used so extensively, for a variety of reasons and purposes, that the users of social media, perhaps, reached a comfort zone and consequently are becoming less guarded in sharing information. Those who mean to take advantage are never too far away. It seldom registers with us that we are the ones revealing the most information about ourselves and putting our security, our jobs, or our companies at risk. Being aware of these risks, using appropriate precautions, and remaining strategic in this new paradigm is vital.
Managing a company’s reputation has taken added significance, for any negative publicity can go viral. Swiftly identifying occurrences such as brand hijacking, product counterfeiting, lifting web content, network intrusion, industrial espionage, domain name abuse, and deliberate smears is the first step. It has to be swiftly followed by fixing the attack outlet, reassuring the clients, and keeping them updated. Good thing is that this battle does not have to be waged alone, as there are firms such as Cision and KnujOn that provide media monitoring and related services. Employment growth in occupations that work in this sphere is substantial in Canada. For example, 6,700 Systems Security Analysts were working in Canada in February 2012, compared to only 2,300 in February 2011, reflecting a year-over-year employment growth of +191%
Companies are in need of social media specialists and security specialists. The demand will far exceed the supply in the not-too-distant future. The problem will be exacerbated by the fact that there are systemic shortages of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) workers with the required capabilities – a skill set of technical, business, and interpersonal skills – that Canadian employers need in order to be competitive in the digital economy. In order for Canadian companies to succeed globally, they need multiple avenues for attracting the right talent. Canada’s diversity, including programs that target immigrants, Aboriginals, women, and youth, needs to be utilized to the fullest.