In Anticipation Of Social Media Mayhem
By Matt Pillar, editor in chief
On Tuesday, Integrated Solutions/Retail Solutions Online headed to New Orleans for the NRF Loss Prevention Conference & EXPO. If you’re reading this from the show floor, stop by booth #1803 and say hello.
Of the many interesting session topics lined up at this year’s event, the panel to be moderated by the International Council of Shopping Centers VP of Communications Malachy Kavanagh at 9:45 today is a must-see. Kavanagh will talk with Daniel Ryan, Sr. corporate security director at General Growth Properties, Jeff McPike, director of North American LP at Nike, Inc., and Justin Crump, CEO of Sibylline, a UK-based security and intelligence consultancy. The session’s called Using Social Media to Identify Potential Incidents and Mitigating the Risk.
Here’s why that’s important. Social media has been a major sticking point in this converging and often conflicting IT/Merchandising/LP environment. From LP’s perspective, the brand and collateral damage that can be done by associates gone rogue on social media, not to mention the cost of employee downtime it can create, make it a problem child. This creates a new version of the battle that plays out among LP folks and merchandisers about protecting assets versus giving consumers access to touch, try and hold them. Merchandisers encourage the free flow of ideas and opinions and even empower associates to jump into the dialogue. Gasp! LP wants to create parameters and controls for social engagement, and manage the dialogue on top of that.
To date, the intersection of social media, retail merchandising and promotions, and loss prevention has long been under construction. What’s been a boon to the marketer has been buried like a thorn in the side of the brand protector.
Technology is changing all that. A couple of years ago, I marveled at the power of the social media intelligence engines developed by brilliant minds at companies like Oracle, SAP, and SAS. These guys figured out how to aggregate petabytes of big data produced every hour by billions and trillions of public tweets and Facebook posts, run some algorithms that home in on the commentary pertaining to a specific brand, and produce reports that help marketers gauge the public perception/reception of brands, promotions, and product launches. In real time, no less!
I thought that was quite inventive, and apparently so did some forward-thinking LP pros. Why not tap into that big data to get out in front of any number of LP and security challenges? Rather than constantly warning of the brand perils of social media and grousing about its abuse, let’s learn how LP and security departments are embracing it for the intelligence that can be derived. With the right tools in place, social media can help a retailer like GameStop anticipate the crowd reaction to the latest Call of Duty release and secure its stores accordingly. It can reveal in advance what was supposed to be a surprise visit from a flash mob or a group of unruly “occupiers.” It can even shed light on the plans of the low-level mules in ORC rings. There’s LP gold in those mountains of data.
Yes, the social content that originates from within requires some policing. Now, policing that which originates publicly can help you do your job better. Isn’t it great being an empowered LP pro in the information age?