The Compulsion to Share

  • Paul Gillin
  • BtoB
  • March 4, 2013

Type ‘security expert’ into Google and the third result is Schneier on Security, a blog written by Bruce Schneier, the author of several books and chief security technology officer at BT.

The blog is also the top Google result for ‘security blogger’ and No. 7 for ‘computer security expert,’ despite the fact that Schneier doesn’t describe himself as an expert. (Qualifier: Google customizes results to the user, so your mileage may vary.)

It gets more interesting when you look at references to Bruce Schneier in media outlets: 175 mentions in The New York Times, 146 in The Wall Street Journal and almost 400 each in Computerworld and InformationWeek. All this in a market that is one of the most information-saturated in the technology sphere.

Schneier estimates that his blog and newsletter reach a combined audience of 250,000 people each month. He has 25,000 Twitter followers and 6,000 Facebook fans. The benefits of such visibility are many: speaking invitations, consulting offers and almost boundless career opportunities.

Bruce Schneier is a notable example of the scope and influence that one person can achieve these days through persistence and focus. The secret of his success isn’t self-promotion; it’s the need to share.

Schneier’s blog is a steady stream of observations and opinions that come from daily life. Everything from a taxi ride to the papal election has a security angle if you really think about it. His essays range from seven words to several thousand. He isn’t constrained by expectations about what a blog should be or enslaved by deadlines and word counts. For him, social platforms are a natural extension of an inquisitive mind. Underlying everything is the compulsion to share.

I frequently cite Schneier on Security when confronted by b2b executives who are skeptical about new channels. They argue that their customers are already known to them and that the communication channels they’ve used for 20 years work just fine. I suppose that’s true if you have no ambition to grow your business, but what about the customers you don’t have?

Bruce Schneier is only one outstanding example of the many thousands of new media practitioners who approach every experience with one question: How do others benefit from this? In a playing field leveled by search engines that care more about content than brand, they’re methodically achieving influence that no marketing budget can match.

The content locked up in our emails and PowerPoints can be accessible to the world with a few clicks. The expertise buried in our organizations can be liberated with a button on a browser toolbar. Why would we not want to take advantage of these things?

Categories: Articles, Text

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.