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.
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.
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.
"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:
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.
Maximn, I have to admit that I am biased on social media, since advising companies how to use it is my business. When you say that you find it totally useless is the very reason I have a business. I recently singed on to advise a company on the use of social media and the decision was to focus directly on one platform. The company had been around for a couple of years and were struggling to find the right contacts within their market segment, much less get meetings with them. Within three days of signing the contract, using this one platform, we not only found more qualified leads than they had received at their trade show efforts but had set up demonstrations and potential evaluation contracts with three major customers. We had also gotten the attention of two significant journalists who followed up with meetings. This cost them less than what it cost to put out a press release.
People who find no value in social media really have no idea what it does. Moreover, they are being left in the dust of their competitors.
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
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.
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.
LinkedIn is a total red herring for this study. It's meant as a "social network", but is really a way to peek at resumes and connect with people online. Their interactivity is very limited and the forums all seem dominated by spammy posts.
I still favor Twitter, as do a few other engineers I know. Most people can't get past "Why can't I use more than 140 characters?", but the brevity is the feature. And I use it to connect with people I wouldn't have otherwise ever had contact with. VCs, non-EEs, technologists, thought leaders. I use it as a way to expand my horizons and pull in the opinions of others in the field (or parallel fields). It nicely works as a push and a pull mechanism and I like that.
Facebook? That's for friends and family. While I'm sure Zuck is happily selling my info to a range of advertisers, I don't need casual contacts to see pictures of my wedding and my college days.
In the Federal Government, engineers (as well as any other employee) are only allowed to be logged into social networking sites during lunch and break times, regardless of the reason. This makes it a poor choice for communications.
I use Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn. However, I can't imagine how, or for that matter why, I would use then for work.
LinkedIn helps keep me connected with former co-workers, which would be very helpful if/when I am looking for employment.
Twitter is nothing more than noise. I sign in and see hundreds or even thousands of tweets since my previous sign in. I have neither the time nor desire to wade through all of them. I typically read the most recent 10 or 20 and get out.
Facebook is becoming noisy like twitter, but is still a little more enjoyable to scan. I've never seen anything on Facebook that indicates it would help me in my work. I use it to communicate with family, long lost friends, and to expound on my often extreme political views. Nothing I want co-workers to see.
I just don't get the point of mixing work and social media.
Duh. Because that limits you to those you know. You've just cut off 99% of your resource pool.
Another thing: if you've never tried it, how do you know it's worthless? Sounds like a closed mind, to me. How come you're an engineer?
I agree with several prior entries;
I have no use for social media in my work.
I go directly to the forum hosted by the software or hardware at issue. I get precise answers rapidly. A social network would have me wading through tons of non-relevant answers by non engineers.
I'll admit to having a Facebook account, but only because it's a good point of contact for one of my hobbies.
I can't speak for anyone else, but I'll share the reasons why I consider social networking sites a complete waste of time for most technical business purposes. First and foremost, the style of on-line discussions and usenet postings is so terribly disrespectful. Rarely can any discussion proceed in a civil manner for long before someone gets angry with a comment from someone else and drives the discussion into a sad exchange of nasty comments about each other's parentage. Even if you don't agree with someone's position, that doesn't make them evil or stupid. You should still treat your "opponent" with a certain level of respect. (Unfortunately, we have far too many authority figures these days whose examples teach us otherwise.) Second, there is no easy way to assess the quality of knowledge in the on-line community. Conference papers and books at least have some level of authority behind them based upon the use of peer reviews and fact checking. Far too many blogs and discussions treat fact-checking as something that only the other guy needs to do. Until people accept the concept that they have a responsibility to make their on-line comments as accurate as possible, the on-line community will remain a questionable source of reliable knowledge. Finally, the sheer volume of blogs and on-line postings creates such a huge mass of information, that it is difficult to find anything worthwhile in the big ball of mud out there. (My apologies to Brian Foote and Joe Yoder for borrowing their so very elegant expression.) Because the Internet has lowered the cost of publishing your thoughts to zero, it seems that everyone has something to say but so little of it is actually worth reading.
Social Networking using places such as the IEEE conference or other workshops, is useful. For other sites (such as Linkdyn and Facebook) all I found was it a quick transition of what can I sell you? That does not help at all. Also, a lot of recent graduates are solely trained in Computer engineering but would like to think they know EE as well. But their questions make it obvious they need some basics to even begin.
So, EE Times - if there is any value in this study, social websites are NOT the place to look. Intelligent, engineering related communication is not possible in the way these sites are set up.
The definition of social networks here might be too limiting... I think engineers might well use OTHER social sites which are more work-like than Facebook or Twitter...
Such as these comments in the EETimes, or StackOverflow and the StackExchange sites. Or even Wikipedia or various code sites like sourceforge and github.
Also, they might have internal social network systems like Jive or Wikis that would not register here either.
To lighten things up a little, here is a link to the blog post I wrote in response to the LAST social media survey of engineers by EE Times: 5 Reasons Why Engineers Should Love Social Media
I resonate entirely with Chuck Matthews. If I'm looking to find authoritative answers to my technical questions, I'll never find those who write textbooks or teach college level stuff on internet forums or social media. If I want to help other engineers (or sound system designers in my case), I find these same venues filled to overflowing with hobbyists and others who apparently enjoy nothing more than flaming anything they disagree with. I'll stick with websites and e-mail, thank you, where these people can't hide behind anonymity. In my work, I could care less what a teen idol had for lunch or who they're dating ... and that seems to be the primary use for pop social media - aside from it's appeal to retail mass marketers. Further, I have no time (or desire to hire an employee) just to find the needle in the haystack of posts from folks with nothing better to do. "Laggard"? "Luddite"? I don't think so. I put quality before quantity when it comes to technical communications. Can you twitter or facebook a schematic?
I've been thinking a bit here about why I personally don't use "social networking sites".
Actually I'm on LinkedIn, but increasingly I think of leaving.
One concern _always_ for me is that they all appear to be a means to generate yet more junk mail and I have far too much of that already.
I certainly use YouTube, but only as a reference. I even considered signing up to send responses, comments, "thank-you"s to people for stuff they've posted, but of course they want my email address. OK, I'm out of here!
But if I take a wider view of what is social networking and include fora and mailing lists, actually I'm on quite a few. The big difference here, I think, is that fora are usually aimed at a relatively narrow field of interest.
I think that it's that very broad-field aspect of "social media" that, to me at least, makes them borderline valueless as something in which to be directly involved.
I guess one of the aspects of engineering life that we all have to manage, is that we're almost always working with large amounts of complex data, and distractions & intrusions just make our tasks more difficult. As a consequence, we can get pretty adept at avoiding them.
One thing is for sure. "Different strokes for different folks" is not just a saying that rhymes, it's a saying that people should remember when they think about criticizing someone.
If someone wants to use those sites for their work...GREAT!
If they don't even want to use the sites to connect socially...GREAT!
Do whatever makes you happy and don't worry what others think.
If you want to make it a hobby to visit social sites that's OK or you can pick up a new hobby like woodworking. Check out http://expertwoodworkingplans.com
I truly appreciate the efforts of the author here in defining role of social media in life of engineers. Recently i came to k now about a new social media website which is dedicated to engineers only. I think you all must have a look in it because it can be another step in improving interaction among engineers. URL: http://helloengineers.com/
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