Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector

It doesn't generate the most leads but it's all pervasive. Keep it in your mix for these reasons.

Social media use reached an all-time high in 2018 according to Hootsuite™, with 3.48 billion people logging into social networks last year, up 366 million over last year. So with almost half of the world’s population spending over two hours surfing social channels every day, how many industrials are joining the mix? And most importantly, how are they using social media to get more return on their online marketing investment and business promotion efforts?

How Industrials Use Social Media

Industrial engineers and technical professionals do not make social media their first stop when it comes to work-related purchases, according to the recently-released annual “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” survey from IEEE GlobalSpec. Only 31 percent of the survey participants report using social channels to research industrial companies, preferring instead to use search engines, online catalogs, supplier websites, and word-of-mouth via peers and colleagues.

But from a marketing standpoint, the potential to reach industrials via social media is growing. Nearly half of the surveyed participants indicate they use social media to find product reviews, the latest industry news and technologies, and to source expertise. Nearly 80 percent use both Facebook and LinkedIn regularly and their Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube use is growing.

Given the increased social media use in the industrial sector, why aren’t more industrial marketers taking advantage of this growing digital medium? The challenge is how to cut through the social media “noise.” The GlobalSpec study reports engineers are tired of the substance-free noise that floods most social media posts. IEEE GlobalSpec recommends posting “fresh” industrial content such as industry news, technological innovations, and product reviews. The best way to get engineers to ignore your social content is to repeatedly post obvious, self-serving promotions that rarely change. Video is the industrial marketer’s best friend in the social world according to the study participants, who demonstrated a significant interest in online training and product innovations.

An Industrial Video on Social Media Speaks a Thousand Words

Nearly 60 percent of the GlobalSpec study participants report using YouTube or other video-sharing websites to search for how-to tutorials, training videos, and product demos.

That’s up nearly 20 percent in just the last two years, and there’s tremendous potential for social media use numbers to keep climbing, according to the latest YouTube statistics from Hootsuite:

  • YouTube was the most-downloaded iOS app in 2018 and is the second-ranked social platform in the world.
  • More than 20 percent of American adults get at least some of their news from YouTube.
  • More than 60 percent of the world’s businesses use YouTube to promote their products and services.
  • Approximately 45 percent of YouTube users access the platform daily, and nearly 30 percent visit multiple times per day.
  • Nearly 1.9 billion logged-in users visited YouTube every month in 2018.

These numbers confirm what savvy, industrial marketers already know: A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video can reach billions, especially if the are millennials.

Use Social Media to Show Millennials You Move in Their World

According to the GlobalSpec report, millennial industrials and engineers are more likely than their older colleagues to choose social media to identify product reviews and expertise, as well as new jobs and potential employers. Given the study’s findings, social media use has enormous potential as a digital recruiting tool — and social media is the ideal medium to demonstrate that the manufacturing world isn’t just for older engineers.

Not surprisingly, millennials are more likely than their older colleagues to use social channels to monitor the latest industry news and technologies and to grow their professional networks.

Additional statistics on the potential of social media to reach millennial technical professionals and engineers include:

  • While just under 15 percent of the GlobalSpec survey participants are millennials, they are the most active industrials on social media.
  • Almost 80 percent of millennial engineers check their social media accounts at least once a day, and around 36 percent check their accounts daily for work purposes.
  • Millennial industrials use LinkedIn as much as their older colleagues, but they’re more likely to use the account for work-related activities.
  • Millennial industrials prefer to watch how-to tutorials and training videos on YouTube or other video sharing websites.
  • According to Hootsuite, nearly 70 percent of millennials active on social media used YouTube to learn how to do something new in 2018.

These numbers indicate the door is wide open for industrial marketers to reach millennials via social media. LinkedIn should be the first go-to channel to reach this young, professional audience, especially if you’re recruiting. The next question is: What type of social content will appeal not only millennials, but to a wide spectrum of industrial audiences?

Establish Your Company as a Subject Matter Expert on Social

Per the findings of the GlobalSpec study, industrial audiences prefer substance over flash when it comes to social media. While peppering your social media with the occasional “employee of the month” or other human-interest posts, it’s a good idea to focus on meaty content that positions your company as subject matter experts in your industry.

The study reports that over 50 percent of respondents turned to social media for industry news and technology information in 2018. So don’t be afraid to use external sources for your social posts, such as industry magazines and trade publications, to stay current with the latest innovations in your field. Spend some time on social channels to see what other manufacturers and OEMs are posting and what industrial topics are trending. Post regularly and share reviews of your company’s products and prove your expertise with in-depth, new content. Some tools to help you streamline this process include social media management and content curation tools, or you can work with a trusted partner to manage your social media presence.

Think Beyond Leads with Your Social Media Use

While you don’t want to bombard your industrial audience with blatant promotional ads, linking your news-worthy social posts to your website is an obvious goal and an effective way to drive traffic to your website.

But don’t discount the importance of engaging on the social networks you choose themselves. By sharing content from other sources other than your own company and lending your support to aligned organization, you can forge connections that will help increase your industrial brand’s influence and may ultimately foster more tangible business-to-business relationships.

To learn more about how to leverage social media as an industrial company, continue reading our “5 Benefits of Social Media for the Industrial Sector.”


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