What kind of engineer uses Facebook?

Demographic data shows engineers using social media to be highly experienced decision makers working across a variety of industries.
By David Greenfield, Editorial Director September 1, 2009

In July, I provided an update on Control Engineering ‘s ventures into social media across Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. But one important data point was missing—basic demographic information on the members. The inability to download this data for analysis made it difficult to develop a precise picture of just who was participating in our groups.

To help address this situation, while conducting a survey on Internet use linked to job-oriented tasks, we opened the survey up to our social media group members first. We then analyzed their response data separately before compiling all responses for the larger purposes of the survey (which is to ensure we are delivering information to you online in the way you most want to receive it).

What we found proved to be quite contrarian to the oft-touted description of social media users, which suggests engineers and/or decision makers do not use social media.

Here’s what we found: Of the social media group member responses to the survey, 63% have more than 10 years of industry experience (at companies like Abbott, BP, Del Monte, Navistar, and Weyerhaeuser). Equally interesting is that 62% have been in their current position for less than five years. While this is surely evidence of the manufacturing and economic upheavals we’ve seen over the past several years, it potentially points to why engineers are increasingly turning to social media. And that reason is likely to be: While many practicing engineers may have several years of experience, current conditions have carried them into positions they may not be well-trained for or have the resources necessary to support them adequately. As a result, they are increasingly leveraging the Internet to tap the greater knowledge source available to them outside the four walls of their facility.

The word "increasingly" is not being used lightly, either. Control Engineering ‘s Linked-In group typically grows by about 80 members per week, while our Facebook group grows by 25 to 35 members each week.

With all this said, the vast majority of engineers are not yet using social media. After all, it’s a relatively new medium that is just beginning to move beyond the early adopter phase. In the end, the majority of engineers may never use it. What is clear, however, is that more and more engineers are currently using it every day. And those who do are leveraging it to access the information they need when and how they need it. We’re happy to be there to help.

If you haven’t yet checked out our social media groups, follow these links: Facebook—http://budurl.com/CEFacebook ; LinkedIn— http://budurl.com/CELinkedIn