Social Media Security – is your event social and secure?

If you manage or attend events regularly, this is an important topic to educate your community on.

One of my professional niches is understanding new types of security and privacy concerns regarding new media.
A common type of question people ask me revolves around exposing where people are located:

  • Should I tweet it?
  • Should I check in on FourSquare?
  • Should I comment on the presentation?
  • Should I tag them?

This article goes into some of the questions you should strategically consider for your event and ways that you can make it a great experience for everyone involved.

Questions you should ask

If you ‘protect’ something, does your absence make it vulnerable?

There are a lot of things we protect in our personal and professional lives.
Give some thought about how location based updates affect your family, friends, and co-workers.
Think about your house, your office, and the things you cherish.
Think about other people.

Are you an executive with high levels of responsibility and/or value?

Executives have a responsibility to everyone they oversee and manage.
Consider what it means to your employees, vendors, and peers when you reveal location and time based information. In very high profile cases, celebrities and executives may also be high value targets for political issues, hostage scenarios, or straight-forward criminal activity.

Does exposing your location also identify your routine?

If you consistently use social services, take the effort to use them in a way that doesn’t identify your daily routine.
Even if you like checking in at the corner cafe everyday at 5:15 – realize that it means you’ve publicized when and where you are a certain time everyday.

You probably don’t control who posts about you

Even if you make the conscious decision to avoid services that reveal your location, probability says that someone in your immediate social circle will consistently identify your location for you. This could be co-workers, family, friends, or absolute strangers.

A case example:

I often professionally go to networking events once a week as a speaker or panelist. I also visit several trade shows a month.

Even when I leave my phone off and my tablet computer in my bag,  I often come back to the ‘digital world’ only to discover multiple people saying things like “just had a great conversation with @BarryHurd in the coffee shop” or “waiting at the airport with @BarryHurd for our luggage.”

I also come back to a variety of photos of various events that have been tagged with my name: sometimes being uploaded in real-time before I even had a chance to say hello!

Educate Your Attendees

You’ve probably been at an event and seen a notice sign about “videography and photography currently underway, etc, etc.” – but have you ever seen a notice sign saying “your location is being broadcast, we hope you locked the backdoor to your house.”

In dealing with finance and banking professionals, celebrities, and other high-worth individuals: the potential for being victimized increases with the knowledge of where, when, and why they are in a specific location.

Photos and videos enabled by mass adoption of smart phones creates tremendous security risks if general safety steps are not taken.

Imagine the security risks of this tweet:

Or having a waiter tweeting:

While the example is a bit extreme, there are plenty of individuals who have reasonable requirements to maintain a certain level of privacy and security.

Setting Reasonable Social Expectations

There are reasonable and common sense expectations that multiple levels of a live event need to be educated on.
Most people don’t want to endanger other attendees or do anything inappropriate; they simply don’t know any better.

Some general expectations to consider:

Educate your attendees into asking simple questions

  • Can I tag this with your name?
  • Can I tweet about this?
  • Can I share this conversation with my friends?

Post signage about times and areas that may be more restrictive on social broadcasting.

  • After hour parties
  • Executive suites & hotel rooms
  • Specific closed door sessions

Provide a recommended safety delay to your attendees

  • If your event ends Sunday night, ask attendees to post non-urgent updates on Monday.
  • If you are planning an off-site after hours event, ask attendees to post non-urgent updates the next morning.
  • If you have a special type of guest that shouldn’t be shared, notify attendees ahead of time or use special badges.

Make Balanced Decisions

People want to share experiences, communicate new ideas, and network at events.

You need to consider all the elements surrounding your event and the people who attend it to find a perfect recipe that balances enjoyment and safety.

Adopting general safety precautions and educating your community allows you to help attendees to make good decisions about what they do and when, why, and how they share it.

If you have any ideas about helping event professionals provide enjoyable and safe events, please leave any tips in the comments below.

Trade Show Social Media