Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr…these social media entities are readily becoming an essential unit within the business world. Woven into the very fabric of data collection, social media monitoring is being utilized as a data extraction tool to better predict, collect, and analyze various data events within any organization. By enabling users to better predict patron purchases, collect useful information from potential threat sources and analyze current industry trends, social media monitoring is widely adaptable.
“With the asset protection/loss prevention industry shifting from a reactive presence to a more proactive force over the last several years, social media monitoring has become an essential function within our industry,” states Abraham Gonzalez, asset protection analyst, data systems, and central investigations for Bloomingdales. “Today social media monitoring allows retailers to monitor for civil unrest, work place threats of violence, negative asset protection public perception, and predict trends in customer satisfaction that could lead to adverse impact.
“Social media has become synonymous with the way information is communicated during this day and age. Unlike the mediums for communication in the past, social media information is instant, easily disseminated, widespread, and has now become an essential intelligence resource for any organization.”
Awareness is Key
Awareness is a key factor when it comes to understanding the full benefits and potential consequences that social media can have on the loss prevention industry. It is imperative for each organization to understand and adapt to the various capabilities that social media monitoring resources available today have to offer. Such awareness, if only at the aggregate level, will create a foundation for asset protection/loss prevention professionals to utilize when gathering intelligence for their organization.
This intel will catapult the level of communication amongst the users of social media within the organization. It will be paramount with respect to the analysis and dissemination of, but more importantly through the collection of data. Brand message and identity can be better protected, and transferal of data-sensitive information can be more closely monitored. Potential threats made against organizations can be tracked down to the source as the existence of a loss prevention tool is created.
“Available software now allows users to visualize, query, and analyze publicly accessible social data from any social network. These solutions can then be used to uncover actionable insights relevant to asset protection and reputational risks,” says Yael Hager, social network analysis expert with Voyager Analytics. “When effectively applied, this can then provide users with a valuable tool that can easily and efficiently analyze the growing ocean of data so that human behavior, networks, and connections are better understood”
The Role of LPRC
LPRC researchers are working with multiple retailers to enhance situational awareness for loss prevention/asset protection professionals in the field. By utilizing a resource that has the ability to forewarn companies of individuals on their way to steal or attack a store location, by detecting risk through social media and the dark web, retailers are better able to keep employees and customers safe while mitigating potential risk and loss. Early warning allows local and corporate leaders to respond more rapidly, implementing a strategic plan of action and a more efficient response.
Social media monitoring can play a critical role in the safety and protection of the retail environment. Offenders often signal their criminal intent by recruiting, scouting, or bragging online, providing actionable pre-event indicators. Retailers should then work more closely with law enforcement to identify and define possible threats, and implement an appropriate response. This is a key proponent of LPRC research efforts.