Our Blog

influencer content

Beneath the Hoodie—The Challenges of Influencer Marketing for SecOps

April 4, 2017 - influencer content marketing, Influencer marketing - , ,
By: Patrick O'Fallon

With every passing day, the cyber security threat landscape continues to expand as new threats are introduced that target infrastructure and data. As stewards of their organizations’ secure information architecture, CIOs are increasingly challenged by the ever-increasing need to adapt to the changing security landscape while remaining steadfast in their experiential approach to managing their organizations’ security and data integrity.

While SecOps professionals are evolving to overcome the increasingly challenging odds against successfully protecting their organizations, SecOps marketers also need to evolve and adapt more modern approaches to reaching the SecOps audience.

Evolution

The first challenge for the SecOps marketer in reaching the SecOps professional is truly understanding the dynamics of this “evolving security landscape.” This is not just identifying where your product, tool, or company fits in Gartner’s magic quadrant. This is not just simply regurgitating your vendor’s market placement talking points set forth by your last strategy session with your peers. Within SecOps, it is not just about the latest scare tactic or news article highlighting the last breach or data leak. The goal of the marketer is to not completely put a kibosh on these tactics—Just know that there is a high probability that the SecOps persona you are trying to reach already knows this information before you mention it. It is rare that you will need to inform them of their problem space.

Instead, marketers need to adapt their strategy and speak directly to the real challenges facing CIOs and their teams. Let’s talk about these. For instance, there is the ever-increasing demand and adoption of Bimodal ITOps and how it affects CIOs’ ability to manage information across disparate architectures, devices, and users. Basically, the traditional IT environment has proliferated and been infiltrated.

So ask yourself: How does your product, service, or tool effectively address this internal issue for the CIO? Furthermore, what will convince them to evaluate your company as an option in their strategy? If marketers choose not to evolve, they risk losing out to a newer vendor or tool that will create a more credible voice in the market, and the modern security professional will be paying attention. The key to this evolution is not in targeting and positioning, it is in relating.

Relatable Influencers

Influencer marketing gives vendors a stronger voice in an increasingly noisy market. Although influencer marketing can help reach SecOps professionals, it is not without its own set of challenges, one being that SecOps professionals are a highly technical and inherently skeptical audience. Another is that SecOps professionals have little time for content that is not pertinent to their fundamental and future objectives. How does influencer-generated content address these obstacles?

  1. Relevance – It is incredibly important that the influencer create content about a topic that is relevant and timely to current issues that SecOps professionals are facing. This influencer content needs to be well-placed and accessible. Curating relevant influencer content that is modern and referenceable will not only address a core influencer marketing obstacles, but there is also a great chance you may reach the right person at the right time.
  2. Credibility – The influencer needs to be a practitioner and speak clearly to the topic with lucent evaluation and prescription. Many marketing organizations violate this core pillar of influencer marketing, which is not only insufficient to attack challenges, but can actually be dangerous and turn away a highly experienced persona.
  3. Get to the point – We know that SecOps professionals covet their time. Influencers need to be able to grab their attention and hold on to it. Brevity may also be difficult for influencers who are trying to relay highly technical information. Yet, influencers need to employ a delicate balance of delivering provocative information while being concise in the execution.
  4. Quality – Many marketers who do not leverage true practitioners similarly reflect quality issues. When attempting to reach this SecOps persona, sub-standard quality will lose your audience fast. For security professionals, it is instinctual when they consume high-quality content from a practitioner as it relates to their world.
  5. Value – Translating value to the security professional is perhaps the most difficult task, especially given the complexity of some of the predicaments faced within SecOps. Most of the time, highly technical resources are either skimmers or thesis analyzers. A combination of relevance, credibility, brevity, and quality can help deliver value.

As a security professional, I observe the problems that my peers and myself face in our daily lives and see great promise in the fierce adaptation within the field. Yet I also find myself frustrated with the fact that there are some great technologies out there that emerge and cannot make it to my desk.

Peers share influencer content with me, and vice versa. We discuss problems and strategies in order to remain steadfast against what we face, and there have been times when compelling influencers have made me re-think strategies and partnerships. As the SecOps field evolves, I hope to see an evolution in SecOps marketers to leverage influencers to not only address reach and user experience issues but also give them a stronger voice to catch that right SecOps professional at the right time.


mm

Patrick O’Fallon is a Principal at Axiom Group in Denver, Colorado. Serving both public and private organizations, Patrick serves as an outsourced CIO to provide strategic consulting with specialized insight into the ever changing SecOps landscape. A graduate from Regis University with a degree in Computer Science, Patrick has a wide breadth of knowledge to support BiModal ITOps organizations by leveraging DevOps and SecOps expertise combined with over 15 years of ITOps experience.

  • jbrinkmeyer

    This is a great article Patrick, one of the few touching on the subject. I’m in a parallel field of tech, but still one in which security and governance are big differentiators for us. In your case – do you envision the practitioner as a SecOps professional?

    I’ve found it’s extremely difficult to find someone with the technical chops *and* the ability to be an influencer.

    • Patrick O’Fallon

      Thanks for your comment and question jbrinkmeyer. I totally sympathize with the difficulty finding someone with technical chops who is also an extremely effective communicator thereby making them a great influencer. Fortunately, the team at Fixate.io is actively working on this problem right now and have years of experience vetting and finding the “right” people for the job. Nonetheless, it is a very difficult problem for us all to approach effectively.

      Although I believe it a core pillar of well executed influencer marketing, I don’t believe there is a 100% requirement that the SecOps influencer is an actual SecOps professional. That being said, I believe the influencer needs to have enough technical “chops” to be valuable to the Security professional. As an example, there is a risk of someone without enough experiential “practitioner” expertise to “superficialize” topics that the SecOps persona would consider extremely important. This is a pretty dangerous situation for influencers to find themselves in, especially with the type of SecOps audience they are trying to reach. Which is why practitioners are generally regarded as the best-bet for effectively targeted content.

      So it’s not a full requirement for the SecOps influencer to be a practicing security professional, especially if this influencer is a great writer who can relay very complex topics very clearly. Yet I would recommend that certain safeguards be put in place in order to avoid pitfalls of reaching such a highly sensitive SecOps persona.

    • Patrick

      Thanks for your comment and question jbrinkmeyer. I totally sympathize with the difficulty finding someone with technical chops who is also an extremely effective communicator thereby making them a great influencer. Fortunately, the team at Fixate.io is actively working on this problem right now and have years of experience vetting and finding the “right” people for the job. Nonetheless, it is a very difficult problem for us all to approach effectively.

      Although I believe it a core pillar of well executed influencer marketing, I don’t believe there is a 100% requirement that the SecOps influencer is an actual SecOps professional. That being said, I believe the influencer needs to have enough technical “chops” to be valuable to the Security professional. As an example, there is a risk of someone without enough experiential “practitioner” expertise to “superficialize” topics that the SecOps persona would consider extremely important. This is a pretty dangerous situation for influencers to find themselves in, especially with the type of SecOps audience they are trying to reach. Which is why practitioners are generally regarded as the best-bet for effectively targeted content.

      So it’s not a full requirement for the SecOps influencer to be a practicing security professional, especially if this influencer is a great writer who can relay very complex topics very clearly. Yet I would recommend that certain safeguards be put in place in order to avoid pitfalls of reaching such a highly sensitive SecOps persona.