POV: Getting Social
May 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Duffy Wilbert, CTS
Social media has been growing dramatically over the past several years. Originally, sites such as MySpace and Facebook were mostly used by high-school and college students for social purposes, but this medium has morphed into a way to keep in touch with contacts, work collaboratively with others in the industry, and network.
In a recent InfoComm Business Trends Report, Acclaro Growth Partners addressed the topic of the Internet and social media and how they are impacting the pro AV market. The report challenges InfoComm members to develop their online presence in new ways to improve business.
The report addresses two important issues revealed in the 2007 Market Definition & Strategy Study. First, that peers and industry websites have become the primary sources of information for users; and second, that IT managers are now making purchase decisions for pro AV products and services.
It is more important than ever to reach these buyers with a multi-faceted Internet strategy that includes search-engine optimization, social media, YouTube, blogs, online catalogs, content sharing, and online communities.
InfoComm also recognizes that its members are interested in using social media to collaborate on industry projects and develop business relationships. InfoComm will be releasing a variety of social-media tools at the end of May. These exciting tools will make it easier than ever to connect with each other, and they will allow existing AV communities online to collaborate, network, and learn about AV — for free.
Participants can use online forums to discuss industry topics, join a social-networking directory to connect online with others in the industry, and blog about AV experiences.
InfoComm's social media tools will create valuable opportunities for the AV community to collaborate and share new information with the industry worldwide. These tools will provide ways to interface with thousands of members instantly. Participants can view and edit a wiki glossary that is constantly updated.
Colleagues with similar interests can join egroups. These special-interest groups, or SIGs, will allow industry participants to share their knowledge or interest on a particular issue, uniting manufacturers, system integrators, design consultants, independent reps, independent programmers, and presentation professionals — provided there are five or more people interested in an issue area.
Having a social-media tool also helps the industry by increasing search-engine visibility. The community will be visited by people searching for content including AV-related documents, videos, podcasts, photos, presentations and a wiki glossary — all indexed and searchable.
InfoComm is also leveraging existing social-media sites. InfoComm has created member groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. This has facilitated important interactions between members, including business deals and information exchange. InfoComm has also launched a podcast series called Wavelengths, which is available free on iTunes. Wavelengths features interviews with leaders in pro AV, as well as information on InfoComm programs.
We hope these social media programs will be of interest to the industry. To learn more about them, please visit InfoComm Central, located in the lobby outside the main exhibit hall at InfoComm 08 in Las Vegas, June 18-20. InfoComm staff will be demonstrating InfoComm's new social-networking capabilities periodically throughout the show. After the show, visit www.infocomm.org for more information.
Duffy Wilbert,CTS, is senior vice president of InfoComm International. He oversees InfoComm's social-media programs and is the host of Wavelengths, an InfoComm International podcast.