As a marketing professional in the industrial sector, you may be tasked with determining how social media fits into your overall marketing strategy. Social media is a hot topic, gets a lot of press coverage, and its use is growing in the B2B market. The challenge for a marketer is to filter the noise around social media and focus on the return on investment for their individual company.

GlobalSpec recently conducted its second annual social media usage survey of engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial professionals. We compiled and analyzed the results and developed a white paper that includes recommendations for suppliers. You can download your own copy of “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector.”

To make the right decisions regarding social media, marketers must know how and why their audience is using social media, when they should invest in social media and to what extent, and how social media can support or complement their other marketing efforts.

Limited Use in the Industrial Sector
While there is some adoption of social media for work purposes in the industrial sector, there hasn’t been a significant change over the past year. One reason for the slow uptick of social media in the industrial sector is that 35% of companies place some restrictions on Internet usage at work, blocking access to certain sites and content. Of the survey respondents who reported Internet restrictions, 70% stated they could not access Facebook at work and 66% are unable to visit YouTube or Twitter.

The most popular social media channel among industrial professionals is Facebook, with 59% having an account. However, industrial professionals primarily use Facebook for non-work purposes. For work-related purposes, LinkedIn is the most popular social media channel, with 37% having an account on the professional networking site. As Facebook and LinkedIn both offer businesses the opportunity to publish company pages and attract followers, marketers should pay attention to these two channels when developing their social media strategy.

Industrial Professionals are Passive Users of Social Media
One benefit of social media is that businesses have an opportunity to engage in conversations with their audiences. You can use social media to discover what people are saying about your company — both good and bad — and use those discoveries to improve your company image, positioning, products and policies, and to generate more momentum and brand awareness for your company.

However, at this time, most industrial professionals are just passive users of social media. They are much more likely to read a blog article or watch a video than they are to generate content in terms of writing comments, asking questions, and participating in discussions. Therefore, marketers should set their expectations appropriately when planning to use social media to interact with their audience; efforts might be best geared toward using social media channels to provide content that is interesting and relevant.

Fitting Social Media into Other Marketing Activities
While GlobalSpec’s survey shows that current adoption of social media in the industrial sector remains low with some growth, social media is being used in business-to-business marketing today. Your company’s investment in social media should be determined by your audience’s behavior. For now, industrial professionals primarily turn to established online resources — general and specialized search engines, online catalogs, and Web sites — to find suppliers, products, and other work-related information. Therefore, you should continue to invest in these online resources and not radically shift a significant portion of your marketing resources or budget to social media.

However, social media usage is likely to grow among industrial professionals. When you do decide to invest in social media, remember that your investment is always “in addition to” other marketing efforts, never “instead of” your more established and already proven best practices. You will want to integrate your social media program into your overall marketing strategy, for example, by adding social media links and promoting your social media presence through your current online programs.

One action we highly recommend is to read your complimentary copy of “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” and use the information to help guide your decisions. Click here to download.


  1. All good points. In addition, as social media activities become ubiquitous to most websites, it’s important to look beyond the “royal three” — Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter — for opportunities to connect with your audience. In other words, many sites have blogs on which you can comment, discussion boards and Q&A areas where you can provide answers to demo your expertise. Look for sites that are attractive to your audience, so you leverage their traffic, sending their visitors to your website. Sites may be industrial directories, industry associations, trade magazines, etc.

  2. One thing to bear in mind is that now is the time to get in and be ahead of the market with regard to social media.

    In 1998, this report could have been in issued with regard to ‘how many engineers use the Internet and how many engineering companies have Web sites’.

    By 2000 you were a very late adopter if you were setting up your first Web site.

    My advice is add investment, in addition to your current spend, just as Marketing Maven recommends and take advantage of he earlier adopter advantage.

    For instance, today, you can have nearly any Facebook page URL you want. Do you want It’s available, as is on a serious note /RollerBearings. They will be gone if you wait until the majority of firms are using social media.

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