Know Your Audience: Social Media Is Not For Everyone

Will 2010 be the year that social media lands at the head table for B2B marketers?  Perhaps.  To listen to some, if you aren’t a fully engaged social media butterfly at this point, you’re already running the risk of becoming a dinosaur.  And for marketing folks, this might be true.  Ignoring shifts in customer behavior is never wise, but neither is assuming a shift has occurred when it hasn’t.

Last summer, the folks at Machine Design (a leading publication among product design engineers published by Penton Media) conducted some research to measure the degree to which their readers use social media.  They also examined what social media networks were being used by design engineers and for what purposes.  Any guesses on the results?  These are the people who design the latest whiz-bang gadgetry we all have to have.  Surely they have to be neck deep in this stuff.  Right?  Well, apparently not so much.  Perhaps when it comes to research and design, form really does follow function.

According to the results, fewer than one in five design engineers use any social media network for business purposes.  And of those that do, the majority use it to communicate and share information with people from their own company.  Just 8% of those surveyed indicated they use social media to share information with their suppliers.  Hardly a sea change in behavior.

Now, for those engineers who are involved in social networks, LinkedIn appears to be the runaway favorite with nearly 90% usage.  Facebook placed a distant second at 19% and Twitter barely registered at 3%.

So what’s the moral of the story here?  Well, as soon as I post these comments I’m going to jump over to Twitter and tweet all about it in the hope that some of my followers will click through to this blog (and if you have, thank you!)  But I’m not targeting design engineers.  I’m targeting sales and marketing professionals.  The key to any successful marketing communications program is to know your customers and prospects and adjust your media mix to meet their needs and habits, not yours or mine.

Note: I’ve attached a copy of the Machine Design study below.

Machine Design_SocialMediaStudy.pdf669.4 KB


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