Build Attention for Your Brand by Recognizing Others

on January 31, 2012

If you want people to pay attention to you, pay attention to them first. It’s how we create personal relationships, and it’s how we should create business and professional relationships as well. Unfortunately not all organizations approach it this way. Many believe they should speak first and announce their “message.” That seems to be the most important part. Always stay “on message” and make sure your audience remembers your “message.”

In today’s give-and-take world of social media, talking about yourself as you enter the room won’t make a good first impression. If you want more respect and recognition, show it to others first.

This is exactly what Spark Media Solutions did with our client Tripwire, whom we’ve worked with at the RSA Conferences. Read our full case study, “How to Become One of the Most Respected Companies in Your Industry.”

Company: Tripwire is an IT security company with a suite of software products for protecting sensitive data and critical IT systems, and detecting vulnerabilities and potential threats.

Situation: The security company was relaunching its blog to serve as a social media hub with new sharing functionality, a new design, and a new title, “The State of Security.”

Challenge: Other organizations that just announce, “We’ve got a new blog,” fall on deaf ears. Users need something to talk about. If Tripwire wanted to bring an audience to their blog they would need an anchor piece of content to act as a hub for conversation. This piece of content had to be done fairly quickly as there wasn’t enough time to do a big crowdsourcing project.

Solution: To complement the new blog, Spark Media Solutions’ recommendation was to create a list of the top 25 people in the security industry to follow via social media.

The Technique

There’s never a guarantee that a piece of content will be successful, but there are methods one can deploy to improve the value and viral nature of a piece of content. For this project, here’s how we gave our list some depth and legs:

Create context as to why these people are valuable – Explain why someone should be following these people. In our research we had found other such lists, but they were just that, “lists.” We found another list that provided context but it was close to five years old. It was definitely time to offer up an updated list.

Provide links to follow the person – Provide Twitter and blog links for each recommended influencer, but also create a Twitter list of all 25 people so with a single click a reader could follow all of our recommendations.

Reach out to the influencers for some content – Since these are the people we’re profiling, we should give them an opportunity to speak as well. We emailed each influencer and simply asked, “What’s your security tip for 2012?” After a lot of back and forth, we were able to get great tips from all 25 influencers on our list. It’s not an easy task, but it was made possible through Tripwire’s preexisting work proactively building relationships.

“We’ve been building genuine relationships with influencers in the community on and off social media for the past two years. We believe in supporting the community and value their contributions to the information security industry,” said Cindy Valladares, social media strategist for Tripwire.

Letting the influencers know they’re on the list – Influencers become influencers by promoting themselves and having others refer to them as influencers. By letting a person know that you’ve written about them, and that you’ve added them to a “top important people list,” chances are extremely high that that influencer is going to tell his/her followers about being honored. That means the top 25 security influencers are probably going to retweet this list to their audience. Meaning ultimately this list will be seen by an audience that cares about security issues.

After a lot of work, we finally produced the piece “Top 25 Influencers in Security You Should Be Following.”


The blog post was hugely successful. Regularly, blog posts on Tripwire’s blog got a handful of shares via Twitter and Facebook. This post got well over 700.

“We were shocked when we saw the amount of web traffic this article drove to our site. December is usually a month with less traffic due to the holiday season, but this article contributed to about 30% of overall web traffic in the first few days it launched. Over the month, the referral traffic that social media contributed grew by 400% compared to previous months,” Valladares said.

While the sharing was phenomenal, what was more phenomenal was the amount of respect and appreciation the community, and the influencers, had for the creation of such a list. Here’s just a sampling of the hundreds of responses:

  • “Gotta hand it to @TripwireInc , this is an excellent list…” – JT Keating, @JTKeating
  • “Great list to follow.” – Kylie Heintz, @kmheintz
  • “Great resource.” – CSID, @CSIdentity
  • “The security rock star list is up. Are you following these peeps?” – Jennifer Usher, @jmanos
  • “A big #FF today for @cindyv and @TripwireInc for their efforts in supporting and engaging with the infosec community.” – Brian Honan, @BrianHonan
  • “A lot of smart security people on this Tripwire list.” – stacksmasher, @stacksmasher
  • “A pretty good list of #security people you should be following on twitter from @TripwireInc.” – Threatpost, @Threatpost
  • “Am tweetless at @TripwireInc’s inclusion of me.” – Bob Rudis, @hrbrmstr
  • “I’m humbled to be on @TripwireInc ‘Top 25 Influencers’ list.” – Brian Honan, @BrianHonan
  • “Honoured to be on @TripwireInc’s list of Top 25 Influencers in Security You Should Be Following.” – Graham Cluley, @gcluley
  • “Congrats to Akamai peeps @csoandy,@mckeay & @joshcorman on making Tripwire’s Top 25 Influencers list for Security.” – Karthikeyan D S, @dskishere
  • “Congrats to @andrewsmhay (#10) and @taosecurity (#1) in Tripwire top 25 security influencers.” – Vivek Rajagopalan, @vivekrj

There was plenty of kudos for the list, the expert tips, and congratulations to people who made the list. It was clearly an honor to be on this list as Richard Bejtlich admitted on his blog and said this about Tripwire:

“Tripwire is one of those technologies and companies that everyone should know. It’s almost like the ‘Xerox’ of security because so many people equate the idea of change monitoring with Tripwire.” – Richard Bejtlich,

Next steps

This article was a precursor to Tripwire’s social media strategy for 2012 which includes a major engagement at the RSA Conference to be held in San Francisco at the end of February, 2012. This will be the third year Spark Media Solutions has covered the event, publishing our videos and articles about the event on the Tripwire blog (Check out our coverage from the 2011 RSA Conference).

Now that we’ve identified the top 25 influencers, had conversations with them, and in many cases interviewed them in past events, our next step will be to follow up with an interview at RSA.

The relationships Tripwire and Spark Media Solutions have built with infosec influencers have become critical in our need to reach out to them, converse, and get their opinions.

“Part of our strategy is to allow infosec influencers to freely share their opinions and points of view, regardless of whether they align with Tripwire solutions. We’ve built a relationship of trust, where we hope they benefit from the platform we provide,” Valladares said.

When you have a true relationship with a person, initiating requests, such as interviews, are far easier to make and result in greater acceptance.

Beyond honoring top influencers and interviewing them, we’ll continue to look for more ways to create content that showcases their wisdom.

“The goal is to look for opportunities where both parties succeed, Tripwire and influencers. We want all participants to be seen as key resources that are providing the community with valuable information about security,” Valladares said.


Stock photos of cropped heads courtesy of Shutterstock.

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