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Engineers aren't using social networking for work

9/7/2012 03:49 PM EDT
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Emilie_K
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re: Engineers aren't using social networking for work
Emilie_K   9/7/2012 7:23:59 PM
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Hi Brian, thanks for sharing this incredibly valuable (and revealing!) information. I think this aligns well with our expectations of where engineers prefer to engage. What concerns me is that no guidance is provided on how engineers use other, less commercial social platforms, such as blogs, discussion forums and online communities to collaborate. If any questions had been asked around these, I'm confident the results would show that engineers are more social than they may think. For instance, at National Instruments, we have more than 175K registered engineers on our community where more than 57% of technical questions are answered by each other (i.e. non-NI employees). They are solving each others problems and providing best-practices and thought-leadership. I'm happy to share more examples of how we see engineers effectively using social platforms and paradigms to get work done. Just let me know. Thanks again and take care.

KB3001
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re: Engineers aren't using social networking for work
KB3001   9/7/2012 7:30:32 PM
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Could not agree more. Engineers are practical folk.

lcovey
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re: Engineers aren't using social networking for work
lcovey   9/7/2012 9:26:49 PM
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But let's look at it another way. Engineers do not use B2B publications "to request or share business information, and 81 percent never use the technology to collaboratively solve technical problems." No, they use email, which is social media. The UK PR firm, Napier published an update on a similar survey last year and found that in europe, engineers have more than doubled their use of social media to research a company between 2009 and 2011, which generally ties into the accepted adoption curve. The EE Times survey showed almost 20 percent of engineers do use social media for collaboration and work research, which means use has jumped the chasm. Those who aren't currently using it are technology laggards. But let's just say that social media isn't useful to engineers. Why would it not be useful to them when clearly millions of other people in other industries are adopting it? It comes down to content. if you take a look at what most companies are doing with the social media programs, you'll find that they are only regurgitating data sheets, marketing brochures and content already found on their website. There is no reason to look at a corporations social media site if their is nothing particularly noteworthy to read or watch. Social media is not mass communication, but the companies that serve engineers are still treating it like banner ads.

krwada
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re: Engineers aren't using social networking for work
krwada   9/7/2012 11:14:19 PM
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ummmm... EETimes and Embedded.com are becoming the queen of engineering social networking! At least, this is how it appears anyhow.

Karen Bartleson
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re: Engineers aren't using social networking for work
Karen Bartleson   9/7/2012 11:45:29 PM
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I have a question about the second chart. 67% of respondents answered the question, "If you do not use any social media platform, why not?", with "Other". Did they say what "Other" was? It's hard to draw any conclusions from this data.

NewYankEE
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re: Engineers aren't using social networking for work
NewYankEE   9/8/2012 1:54:28 AM
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"Are you brain damaged? why just not pick up a phone or use email?" Since engineers already have a stigma of social awkwardness maybe the above proves that point applies to some and they'll sneer at the opportunity. That's right - it's simply another opportunity and a phone call or F2F meeting not always as practical or wanted. Social media may not be usable nor then useful by those who don't play well with others but this seems not terribly surprising. What do some of us get out of using such resources to interact positively with others (peers , vendors, media, educators, etc)? Well things like trips to the Indy 500, free passes to trade-show classes, samples and other forms of better service, new clients and longer term gigs, heck yeah and even just getting connected with friendly interesting people is a benefit I've experienced in the last 6 months alone......social media is simply modern networking over the virtual Catalina wine mixer or whatever: Sold!

DSteer
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re: Engineers aren't using social networking for work
DSteer   9/8/2012 1:55:50 AM
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This article appears to have a sensationalist headline. "Engineers aren't using Social Networks for work", yet the opening paragraphs state that 70% use social networks. Further on, you state that 35% use social networks once-a-day - that is an incredible engagement rate for any channel - I bet if you had 35% of your EETimes readership checking your site once a day, you'd be delighted at the result! The key issue here is what constitutes a social network, and how is it being used. This site, for instance, has as many column-inches consumed by comments as by editorial content. So this is a forum where users are commenting and sharing opinions in a networked form - or a "Social Network". Even Mr. maximin "I never use social networks" who left the comment above is participating in a social network - they are everywhere. The use model is critical too. This is a profession where you can't openly solicit requests for help on confidential matters - so conversational use of Social Media is not going to be widespread. But that doesn't mean people aren't listening - and instead using Social Media in all it's forms as a "river of information". Social Media users take many forms - generally grouped into one or more of Spectators/Joiners/Collectors/Critics/Conversationalists/Creators. I think you may find that this is a segment where Creators are few and Listeners are many. I also agree with loovey. Too many companies are treating the channel like a banner ad, and not really fostering a conversation.

Oflife
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re: Engineers aren't using social networking for work
Oflife   9/9/2012 6:31:05 PM
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As a software designer and (unqualified) project manager, I long ago concluded that online communications and social media are inhuman, inefficient and illusionary concepts that whilst making one FEEL that one is achieving something (passing the buck or similar), there is no better way to get something done and employ all 5 of our human senses than being in the same room or building. Even the most obvious use of social media to problem solve is massively inefficient. Let's assume one posts a question on Twitter, Facebook, Quora (the best Q&A site ever from my experience), you still have no idea how long it will be before you obtain a reply. In my experience in project management, I want a reply NOW, not hours or days later. If I'm in a building surrounded by sentient beings, I can physically engage with them and extract what I need in milliseconds. No computer required. Further, I can banter with them, and there is no stress on my mind and body, something the disconnected connected lifestyle is guilty of. So, very proud NOT to use social media in my company and it will never be allowed, never mind encouraged. No point in developing all these shiny toys if we forget who we are! #life #compassion #happiness #empathy #humor

Ogemaniac
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re: Engineers aren't using social networking for work
Ogemaniac   9/9/2012 11:47:30 PM
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What about IP? I literally can't talk about any details of my work on anything a random person could read. Email simply is better for what I need to do. I control exactly who gets the information, and can send as much information as needs to be sent. Why would I use FB or Twitter for a work-related issue, even if I was connected to my co-workers, which I most deliberately am not.

AimeeJune
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re: Engineers aren't using social networking for work
AimeeJune   9/10/2012 2:50:31 PM
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I concur with Emilie at NI that key social networks were not included in this survey. Online support forums such as our E2E Community at Texas Instruments are social media. We have 100,000 users and over 800K questions and answers. That is a technical knowledge base that specifically addresses engineers' design challenges. It's all about work. There is a big difference in how people use social for work and for their personal interests. I agree that Facebook and Twitter, in particular, find little adoption among engineers at work. However, I think you would find that many engineers do use those platforms for personal use. This distinction is noteworthy and perhaps should be addressed in your next survey. Engineers were some of the first to use the BBS platforms (online forums). There are many engineering online forums both in North America and throughout the world. China, in particular, boasts hundreds of thousands of engineers on their various engineering communities. Thanks for the info and I look forward to the next survey. cheers

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