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Social Media Marketing and Damage Control for Web 2.0

Oct 5, 2011 11:09 AM

NSCA's Essentials of Systems Integration Provides Guidelines for Use of Social Media Tools


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NSCA has added a new document, "Use of Social Media," to Essentials of Systems Integration, the association's online library of more than 650 customizable, industry-specific forms and templates. The latest addition to an already robust collection, the "Use of Social Media" provides a foundation for a company's social media policy and strategy through a series of guidelines and rules for both personal and professional use on a variety of social networks.

Depending on how they are used, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and FourSquare can either boost a company's profits or decrease the productivity of its staff. As more integrators utilize these tools to promote their products and services, grow their businesses, and communicate with customers, it is important to ensure the proper use of these valuable marketing tools. The "Use of Social Media" document helps integrators clarify how employees should represent the company not only through the company's official Facebook or Twitter pages, but also through their own, personal social media accounts. The policy covers information such as:

  • Use of company equipment and time for personal use on blogs or websites;
  • Confidentiality and disclaimers when using social media; and
  • Parameters on appropriate comments and information distribution.

NSCA members have had mixed results integrating social media into their business plans. For some members, it has increased sales leads and website traffic, and improved their name and brand recognition. South Central AV in Nashville, Tenn., began using Facebook and Twitter a year ago after discovering that most of its employees had an account on at least one of these sites. Employees posted links and information about the company, and word spread quickly. The company established a goal of 100 "likes" on Facebook, which it exceeded in just two hours. This positive response quickly fast-tracked South Central's need to add social media marketing to its plans, resulting in sales leads it would not have received otherwise.

However, some members have had negative experiences with social media. Using personal accounts on professional sites has hurt some of their brand images and deterred customers in specific market segments. For instance, something as simple as the profile image of an employee could have negative repercussions on business opportunities.

Regardless of the outcome, social media provides opportunities for instantaneous feedback and improved customer service. Establishing official guidelines and rules for the use of this new marketing medium will help protect a company's brand, employees, products, and services. Identifying the appropriate staff to administer company profiles, as well as goals and strategies for each site, is critical for businesses that choose to utilize social media.

"In this day and age, no business can afford not to be active in social media. Your level of activity directly affects how search engines will rank your home page," said Melonee Hurt, South Central AV marketing manager. "We are making an effort to more regularly engage with our customers and potential customers by being a quality provider of industry-related information and having active conversations online via our blog, through a variety of social networking sites simultaneously."

"Some may look at this as a way to 'police' what their employees are saying on social media sites," said Chuck Wilson, NSCA executive director. "However, it can go either way; we've heard from integration businesses that have prospered and those that have had to do damage control because of the interaction between their employees and customers in these communities. By setting the ground rules, you can add a completely new element of successful marketing and communication tools—along with customer support—to allow identified staff to properly use Twitter or Facebook, for example."

The "Use of Social Media" document can be found under Business Forms and Templates > Internal Documents > Miscellaneous Operational Templates at www.nsca.org/essentials. Essentials is an NSCA member benefit that provides documents, forms, templates and agreements for human resources, legal, finance, and more. In addition to the "Use of Social Media" policy, Essentials also includes a policy on "Internet and Email Use," which allows companies to communicate to employees that the business has the right to review any files, messages or communications sent, received or stored on the company's computer systems.

Review this new policy and more by visiting www.nsca.org/essentials. For more information, contact NSCA at nsca@nsca.org or 800.446.6722.

Losing Sales? Bad Timing?

If a sale is lost or delayed, common excuses include: "My customer didn't have it in his budget anymore;" "The timing wasn't right;" "The price is too high;" or "I don't have the authority to make this decision."

These financial buying signals can easily be overcome with proper financing solutions. Integrators can utilize NSCA's partnership with PNC Equipment Finance to offer financing solutions. This partnership gives the customers of NSCA member companies the ability to spread out the cost of technology projects. Additionally, PNC offers cash flow solutions, complete financing solutions, including multiple vendors, equipment and technology, labor, installations, training, warranty and service, and more.

For example, a customer organization that wants to integrate a new installation at a cost of $500,000 makes three basic decisions:

  1. What system they are going to get,
  2. Who they are going to get it from, and
  3. How they are going to pay for it
The PNC program addresses the third decision and allows customers such as churches, businesses, universities or civic centers to initiate a project without having cash on hand to pay for it.

The value of this program shows in PNC's current figures. Last year alone, PNC Equipment Finance funded equipment for more than 7,000 customers, including commercial projects; city, state and county governments; and many non-profit organizations for almost $4 billion in equipment and technology financing. Vendors who utilize financing—such as NSCA members who take advantage of this member benefit—see an average of 13 percent higher margin on sales that are financed and significantly higher average transactions because customers who finance buy more products.

In the current economy, few companies, non-profit organizations and governments are using their own cash. Their hesitancy is due, in part, to the uncertainty concerning dwindling budgets and unknown future revenues. NSCA offers the PNC program to help its member companies increase their quantity of projects as well as the number of products and services their customers can include in a project.

PNC Equipment Finance (PNCEF) is the $9.6 billion technology and equipment financing subsidiary of PNC Financial Services, Pittsburgh, the fifth largest U.S. commercial bank. PNC Equipment Finance provides financing for equipment and systems integration projects in the broadcast, communications, media, entertainment and AV industries. Offering creative AV financing that traditional banks often won't provide, yet as a major, bank-owned finance company, PNC rates and terms are highly competitive.

For more information on PNC Equipment Finance, visit www.nsca.org/PNC or call NSCA at 800.446.6722.



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