I like Facebook. I like AV. I like Facebook groups and I like selling selling AV! I like using FB to sell AV. But what I don’t like is selling AV and seeing my clients discuss it on Facebook. So, I actually don’t like Facebook anymore.
I love to use social media platforms to connect with fellow industry people, local businesses, and of course business opportunities if they arise. Let’s be honest, that’s what business is about: creating opportunities. One of the ways in which I’ve found opportunities is to join several communities located within these social media platforms.
I’ve joined many groups, some strictly industry-based, but also many that focus on specific market segments that my company works in. One of those channels is House of Worship. As a member of these community groups, I’ve found that you spend more time sharing knowledge and encouraging proper procedures than actually selling a service, although the latter does happen well enough.
A little while ago I was asked to consult with a friend of mine who’s church facility was about to undergo a large seven figure renovation. Lots of remodelling and a bunch of new technical capabilities were being addressed. One of the first things that came to light during our project discovery meeting was the lack of both an IDP (Integrated Design Process) and an AV firm to handle the actual systems designs. This both disappointed me and excited me at the same time. After the initial discovery meeting, it was determined that my firm could take an advisory role in the project but that all the designs and specifications would be handled in-house by the facilities volunteers. As I’m sure you can imagine, this was disappointing but not unexpected as this is something we encounter often, and usually gain new business after the initial installation, providing needed upgrades and additions to the initial project to address issues within the original system design.
In our newfound advisor role, we made strong suggestions regarding aspects of the system design. Some of our suggestions were a stronger than others — there are times when there is clearly a right way and a wrong way set up a system and we can’t sit idly by and watch an incorrect system design. But imagine my surprise when I would see my recommendation show up in one of these social media groups as a question!
“My consultant told us to do this…. We’re gonna go in this direction, because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, right!”
This doesn’t bother me so much as I find it a little distasteful (our client didn’t seem to realize that I’m in the same groups), but it does provide a bigger challenge. Because now we have to convince both the lead tech volunteer, the ministries leadership, and every person who commented on that social media post.
This isn’t something that we’ve really experienced on a large scale in our industry. More then ever before, we are now having to defend our decisions and even our suggestions to more then just the actual clients but also to anyone in a social media group that our clients might belong too, no matter what the qualifications are of the social media group member. Luckily for us, in this project we are only advisors; everything is billable time, so the more questions were asked, the more we bill, but that isn’t always the case.
What I want you to take away from my experience in this project is to be aware of your projects as they exist online. If you know where your clients are getting their questions, you have the opportunity to get out in front of those questions and address their concerns before it costs you additional time and money. The online community is great, but anyone can be an expert online, and when it comes to the technically advanced systems that we as AV integrators deal with every day, sometimes you need to be wary of that online volunteer community base.
Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear from you in the comments about your experiences with online communities!
Matt D. Scott is the president of OMEGA Audio Video. Follow him @mattdscott.