I can only speak for my slice of the manufacturing world, the exhibitors of IMTS-The International Manufacturing Technology Show, held biennially at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.
Here is what I see; the adoption is slow but growing.
I took a recent snapshot of what social media channels our exhibitors are participating in for 2012 this past week and found that about 20% have at least 1 social media account, in fact they usually utilized as many as 2 or 3. The most popular was Facebook, followed very closely by Twitter and YouTube. Not bad for an industry that 3 years ago had never even heard of a “Tweet” being used to generate buzz about their business. The least utilized was LinkedIn. (The results of this “research” are slightly skewed due to the fact that we have a number of international exhibitors and I was lucky to find their web pages in English, let alone with social media connections.)
One bit of research that I found interesting was that if they were only broadcasting on one channel, that channel was YouTube. Several had also created their own “TV” channels on their websites, shows that the trend is growing for videos.
One of my favorites is RepairZone.com they show “the adventures of “RepairZone Man” on their site, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page but worth it, they are really funny!
You can tell we are still in the toddler phase as many of the accounts I saw were still in the “talking at” people instead of engaging them in a conversation. However, I will say that there were some terrific examples of the companies that got it – they talked about their companies but in the context of what charity event they were participating in, or what their NASCAR Racing Team was up to, or that the Boy Scouts can earn a badge in Robotics. The Lincoln Electric Company (@weldrobotlady on Twitter ) humanizes the company and makes me look forward more information from them.
Company Blogs are also growing. For IMTS 2008, I did a similar project but at the time was just searching for company blogs and I couldn’t find any on the sites of our exhibitors. This time around I found about 3.5% of the companies are using blogs to talk about their products and services. Many have embedded video for quick training and brief product demos, or are more of a “white paper” for the applications of their products.
What I have noticed is many in the industry are talking, and some have moved on to listening and conversing, few shining stars have moved on to Engaging. My hope is by 2012 there will many more of them.