Do Engineers Use Social Media?

If you sell products to engineers, you probably struggle with a basic question – Do they use Social Media? Globalspec recently published a report on Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector, which shows that they do, but in a specific way. If you’re selling in to these markets, take a look, and you’ll get some clues on how to optimize your Social Marketing Mix.

LinkedIn as a preferred platform

GlobalSpec reports that LinkedIn is the fastest growing platform in this market – from 37% registered in 2010 to 55% in 2011. Engineers are active on the site, with 59% reading group discussions and 28% participating . It’s also noted that access to Facebook is blocked at work for 2/3 of respondents, whereas Linkedin is only restricted for 1 in 3.

So consider posting updates to your LinkedIn company page, and perhaps starting an industry discussion group, or becoming active on an existing group. Remember the “compounding” advantage; if someone shares your update on LinkedIn, it will be seen by all their connections, who are likely to also be in your target market – and they will view the content as “trusted”.

Facebook and Twitter

In the report from the previous year, Facebook usage for work-related items was minimal. In 2011, this has changed dramatically, with 60% of users “following” a company in their industry, and 40% engaging in discussions related to their work. So now may be the time to start taking Facebook more seriously, even for industrial marketing. On the other hand, Twitter is struggling in this group, with only 22% of respondents admitting to having an account; I guess Twitter is still seen as a frivolous venue for celebrity-stalking and idle chatter!

Choosing Metrics

A key finding is that Engineers are relatively passive users – that is, they’re more likely to watch a video or read a blog than to create content. Any interaction is likely to be independent of a specific brand – a comment on a blog or answering a question – as opposed to “liking” a company or writing a product review. So avoid metrics that are based on company-related interactions, such as number of followers. Instead, focus on consumption of content – such as “# video views x average length of viewing”, or for a blog, you could track number of pages viewed per visit.

There’s plenty more to glean from the report. If you’re marketing products to these engineers in the industrial sector, take a look, and you’ll get some clues on how to optimize your Social Marketing Mix

Published by Steve Cummins

Marketing leader; B2B marketing professional with global experience, specializing in technology products; Digital marketing enthusiast. Opinions are my own.

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