In the intervening years, social media adoption among the masses has continued to grow. And just when you think the landscape has settled down, something like Pinterest comes along, prompting the big boys like Facebook and Google to alter their designs and tactics.
Are you finding social media useful in your work as an engineer?
Could you care less?
Is it becoming a frustrating distraction at work?
Has it become a valuable channel for you to increase your productivity and technical knowledge?
Please take 3-5 minutes to fill out our latest social-media survey to give us a sense for how this technology is evolving in the engineering world. And in the comments field below, let us know your general impressions. Don't be shy--as if I had to ask!
I was not fond of social websites until I became involved with Element 14. There I found a very informal society of engineers, scientists and technology enthusiasts. The exchanges were very stimulating and fun to explore. I would still not run out and just join any social website, but when I found one that responded to my interests, I found I had a good time talking with like individuals worldwide.
eevblog is one of the only ones I enjoy, but I don't use it in a professional community. One thing that wasn't asked of respondents is if they use Manufacturer's forums. And there may be a distinction between "using" as in looking passively and "using" as in participating.
If you use social media (which I'll define as "Facebook" for this discussion) for what it was originally intended -- to keep up with actual friends -- then it's fine. If you and your friends do fun and interesting things, then it's great. If your friends are boring, then it's boring.
For business use, I don't much see the point of Facebook or (especially) Twitter. Do I "like" Xilinx (for example) on Facebook? No. Why not? Because if I want or need information from Xilinx, the first place I go is to their website. And then I call my local FAE. The Facebook updates from Xilinx and others are shorter versions of e-mail updates they send out regularly, so it's redundant. OK, maybe users can post snarky comments to the Xilinx updates, but one suspects that they'll be deleted for the obvious reasons.
Now if you expand your definition of "social media" to include things like vendor discussion forums, user-to-user professional forums and (showing my age) Usenet newsgroups, then, yes, social media are very valuable. (Except for Usenet, where every discussion devolves to a flame war.) User-to-user discussions, where those users are serious, can be very informative, and you can learn a lot of things just by browsing. What you read might not be useful immediately, but you remember certain techniques which might be very helpful in a future project.
It will be interesting see what engineers have to say about the likes of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc.
The key question will be the one about time spent on all social media.
Will it be a normal distribution with a peak around "less than one hour per day" or bimodal with peaks at the two extremes representing the "SM is useless" and the "addicted" camps?
Also does commenting in this forum count as part of social media...or is it just internet browsing?
I also consider the eetimes.com comment forums to be social media -- and I think it's valuable for engineers and others who work in our industry.
But I have one gripe -- the comment forums are not accessible from the EE Times mobile app. Maybe someday UBM can get some people to work on that!
Personally, I don't consider semi-anonymous public discussion forums such as this to be "social media". I consider social media to be private/semi-private communications between groups of people who know each other personally, perhaps because this format has existed for quite some in the form of Usenet and BBS, and they have never been described as "social media" like facebook & co. has.
I agree with the notion that social media is misinterpreted by engineers because of the "social" in the moniker. EEs tend to share their work challenges at distinct technical conferences, and if they see an overreaching subject concerning their careers or their personal interests, they react accordingly and actively. Otherwise catch them at a technical conference venue such as the ISSCC and the IEDM , two prominent confabs dedicated to circuits and devices.
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Personally, I don't use 'social media' for work purposes outside of connections on LinkedIn but even then, I only look at it every couple of months or so. In most cases, I go directly to the manufacturers' websites for information or to pose a question.
Too many times, even an engineering oriented forum/blog like Global Spec's CR4 is overflowing with what we might call basic questions that usually are covered pretty well in an undergraduate program.
Overall, I find social media to be of little use to the practicing engineer.
Survey flawed? No, surveys are designed to show what the survey designer wanted to see. I agree that never is a much better answer. The only "social" network I use is LinkedIn and not for "social" uses.
I use email for virtually all my social contacts. It is much more powerful and easier to use than other sites I've encountered. I just don't see how Facebook or any other social wedsite can offer me any more than I already have.
You really have to consider both usenet and email as social networks. I think they get left out because they existed long before someone came up with the name 'social network'.
I even think that the original social network is Ham radio. Granted, it's a restricted set with a fairly high entrance bar, but it is a social network.
Even the idea of Twitter seems to me to be a total waste of time.
This is exactly what other sites do. The results are not shown until you submit your survey, then your feed back is instantly included in the results after you vote. EEtimes surveys are still very much behind the times in this regard. (Yeah, I'm talking about you, EEtimes web guy).
After you finish the survey, there's a link to see the running results. Only problem is, there's an undocumented feature. If you share your e-mail address it might be made public. You see some of these at the bottom of the results. This should be fixed by the EETimes guys.
The biggest issue I see is that everyone seems to have a different view about what social media is ... there is no standard definition.
Personally, I think of social media as a digital attempt at a real time conversation. If there is a delay of more than 5 seconds in getting a response then I consider it to be a forum or discussion group instead.
I'm going to simplify this even further, social media is merely the candy coating surrounding the chocolate center. It tells you it's candy but not what's inside ... it could be chocolate or it could be poison. You don't get the full picture, only a snapshot of the surface to tease you into wanting more (information).
How do you use social media for recruitment?
And how does candidates' postings impact their chances of getting offered a position?
For example which social media platforms do you go to when checking up on candidates and if a candidate doesn't have a profile there is that bad...or good?
DCH -- so when you use social media for recruitment, how do you do that, exactly? One could assume that most engineers are smarter than the average bear, and as such, their Facebook accounts will be set so that comments are "friends only." Mine certainly is. If you are not specifically allowed to see posts, comments and pictures, then there's not much you can learn.
Since LinkedIn is supposed to be the "professional" social networking site, most users already ensure that content they make public there is already vetted.
Linked-in will let you send targeted ads based on profile and location.
Also, our recruiter can post jobs to her network that get forwarded on if people know others. Networking gets high quality applicants in the sense that these are people who already have some connection with those who work there and could be a good fit.
Th biggest issue that I see is the excess of hype relating to social media. There a number of TOOLs available in the social media environment. But they are just tools. All tools have purposes that they work well for and purposes that they are not well suited for. Attach the phrase "social media" to something and the hype monsters parade it as something universal for everyone that will solve all of the worlds problems.
Twitter has some valuable and engaging uses but I really don't give a flying flapjack what someone ate for breakfast and I don't need another vehicle for delivering ads to my computer.
I think there should be a distinction between LinkedIn which can be a great networking tool and the mindless dribble of twitter and Facebook. The first having purpose, the latter two which I will have no part of.
As someone who has done systems engineering work, I have had to learn to handle the 'big picture' point of view. I find all too often that the average user of social media does not have the maturity or desire to think big. They are like the blind following the blind.
As an engineer, it can be tough to find the time to stay active on social media, but it definitely has value and the potential to help us solve problems by allowing us to connect with other experts in the field. Iíve just posted a blog with some of the other considerations for engineers, if youíre interested http://ow.ly/bUTtL
There are some distinctions between degrees of being involved. E.g. I have a Facebook account but the only reason I (reluctantly) signed up is that the folks I went to university with created a private group to keep in tuch, mostly to organise reunions.
This is pretty much the feedback I'm getting from other engineers, too. If they sign up, it's mostly reluctant and it's for a specific purpose. The younger generation is a bit more into socal networking but they also exhibit below average interest.
I'm also on Linkedin but it serves a different purpose, compared to Facebook. I don't think they can be lumped together.
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