Last week I downloaded and read the new research report, “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” published by IHS GlobalSpec. Some of the findings are consistent with their reports from previous years and others are good wake up calls for industrial marketers.
It is still true that most engineers and industrial professionals are passive users of social media – they prefer to “read, watch and research as opposed to publish, post and comment.”
Two statements from the report caught my attention. They are:
- In terms of researching work-related purchases, engineers prefer other online resources, such as search engines, online catalogs, supplier websites, and vertical search engines (VSEs) such as GlobalSpec.com.
- 54% of industrial professionals say there is “too much noise and not enough substance” around using social media for work-related purposes.
Those two findings should be a big wake up call for industrial marketers. First, industrial companies shouldn’t expect social media to pick up the slack if they stop doing things like optimizing their websites (SEO) and adding content assets such as CAD viewers and Parametric Part Number Finders to help their buyers take interim steps that will lead to the final buy decision.
Second, creating relevant content is critical for engagement with this technical audience. Twitting “Buy Now” stuff and focusing on building up your “Likes” and “Followers” won’t move the needle for lead generation and conversion.
LinkedIn is by far the most popular social media channel used by engineers and other industrial professionals. Sixty-three percent of users now have a LinkedIn account, compared to only 43% in 2010. Sixty-seven percent of industrial professionals belong to two or more Groups on LinkedIn; 62% read their Group’s discussions and keeping in line with their passive participation, only 23 percent actually participate in those discussions. The chart below shows how this audience uses LinkedIn in their work-related activities.
Google+ has shown a healthy growth in usage. Thirty-six percent of industrial professionals now have a Google Plus account, up from 23% in 2011.
YouTube is another very popular social media channel for engineers and industrial professionals. Forty-seven percent use YouTube or other video sharing websites for work-related purposes, and watching a video is the top use of social media among this audience. The next chart shows how they use video-sharing websites.
This chart shows that social media is still perceived as a less valuable resource by this audience when it comes to making work-related purchases.
IMO, the key takeaway for industrial companies is that you can’t ignore social media when it comes to marketing to engineers and industrial buyers but don’t count on it being the silver bullet for lead generation.