Why engineers don’t do social media

engineers and social media

IT engineers created the internet to keep up-to-date on research. And it was an efficient infrastructure, until cat videos and Facebook stalking.

Engineers have fallen steadily behind in the adoption of social media, a shame as it is here to stay and will gradually crush all other traditional marketing channels. It is also a great tool to… engineer, collect data, input, voices of customer, etc. And obviously for branding and leads. Headlines of our report:

  • Engineers use social media mainly for personal use. Only 8.6% keep active both a personal and professional social media network.
  • 54% of engineers describe the social media content as “too much noise and not enough substance”.
  • A high % of manufacturing co. websites are not set-up for social mediamarketing (88% have no social media sharing, 65% no blog! etc.)

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Engineers deal in reality, numbers, and immutable laws. Not in“Solve if your a Genius 85’000% of people will get this IQ test wrong lolz”. Their work has real consequences, and they seem more bored of the tacky and self-serving side of social media than most. They see social media (with some degree of truth to be fair) as part of a wider narrative, made of vapid clickbait trash, usually pushed by 20 year olds’ in their basements calling themselves CEO’s.

Yet social media can be an potent data-sharing tool. And sound, holistic data is at the heart of sound engineering. Getting facts, tech sheets, opinions, customer feedback as early and easily as possible in the engineering / development cycle. Some CAD-CAM / PLM systems like PTC or Dassault Systemes have started integrating social media in their systems.

54% describe social media as “too much noise and not enough substance”. 37% say it is not a reliable source of information. 35% say they are unable to find useful content on social media. (Source: IHS GlobalSpecMedia) 



This one really speaks for itself. A lot of engineering companies have 0 social media easy sharing and interaction, possibly running on older platforms. Mobile being the accepted future of social media…

48% of manufacturing websites do not have any easy-add-content feature. 79% are not mobile-device friendly. 65% of sites do not have blogs. 88% had no social sharing buttons. 67% do not link to social media account. (Source: Engineering.com)



It may be simply that engineers value simplicity and hate redundancy. And/or that engineers are not as cognisant yet of the commercial, or even engineering benefits to having a proactive presence on a social media platform. 

 Only 8.6% of engineers have a separate social media presence used for work. 42.3% of engineers use social media primarily for their personal life. 22.9% use social media for information and networking. 26.2% say they do not use social media at all. (Source: TrewMarketing.)



This is largely about enabling, or lack thereof:ALMOST HALF of engineering companies are actively blocking the use of social media from the work place. Almost as many do not even have a discernible social media presence. Very few train their staff in it.

 48% of engineers do not have access to social networking at work; . 55% of employers have an official social networking presence. 45% do not. 66% of design firms provide marketing training ONLY to marketing staff (Of which, only about 20% is about social media). (Sources: HPAC Engineering, SAE International)



This may be a stretch and is based on the idea that our perceptions of how others view us impact our social behaviour. (i.e. You’re less likely to interact with someone if you think that they think you are boring.)

58% of engineers believe the public see them as social awkward. 48% believe society considers them boring. (Source: ASQ survey)



There seems to be an overall “common knowledge” that Engineers and Marketers traditionally do not get along. As one blogger states: “Many engineers see marketing professionals as people trying to sell snake oil — replete with overblown promises, misstatements, and outright lies.” If that is indeed the prevalent sentiment, it is no wonder that engineers would find it rather distasteful to participate in marketing practice. The article goes on to say however, that marketing is becoming a more scientific procedure with less manipulation, thus more palatable to the purist engineer type.

Another article title “Engineers are becoming a lot like marketers too,” echoes the merger of the two professions provides a few insights as to why that might be. Source: Chiefmartec.com

In conclusion:

Social media adoption among engineers is low and will weigh ever more so on the commercial results of their employers, as well as their engineering prowess. It will also impede more and more the effectiveness of engineer jobseekers, and impact their career development. Social media for engineers needs to be more structured, and adapted to a more stringent audience, interested in facts, backed by numbers. It needs to be facilitated by the adoption of social media / mobile friendly website architectures, and removing obsolete blocks to engineers accessing social media sites at work. It needs also, more than for most industries, to be planned clearly and properly to facilitate its adoption.

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