Reading time ( words)
Most of my clients are manufacturers of one type or another. And while many of my clients have had their “Aha!” moment, for the most part, manufacturers don’t get social media. When I talk to managers and executives at manufacturing companies I hear the usual excuses: It doesn’t work in our industry; it won’t work in our industry; it’s too early to use in our industry. Many say anything that will get them off the hook from having to understand what this stuff is.
I'm not just saying this based on my direct experience, I can see it in the statistics. I write this column every week, and the I-Connect007 people have published around a 140 of them now--almost three years of social media columns. If I click on an article or column in one of the I-Connect007 websites, a list of the top five most read articles and columns for today, this week, and this month appears at the bottom of the page. Using these lists, I can see if a column I wrote was popular with the readership. Sometimes my columns appear on the lists (sometimes they don’t) but it is cool to see my column appear in the most read list when I'm competing with so many other news items, articles, and columns each week.
Using these lists, I can see which readers are actually clicking on and reading my columns. Does the EMS crowd read my columns? Not really. Mil/Aero? Nope. And PCB manufacturers? Very rarely. But let’s look a little more closely at the PCB crowd. One of the great ironies of writing this column is that it is nominally written for manufacturers. And the PCB manufacturers do not read my stuff. Heck, I 've offered free market intelligence a couple of times in my columns--send me an e-mail (and my e-mail address is at the bottom of every column) and I will send you a list of companies purchasing PCBs in Michigan, that sort of thing. And the response I got? As a friend of mine likes to quote from Animal House, “Zero point zero...it's the lowest in Faber history.”
Here's the punchline: If PCB manufacturers aren’t reading my column, who is? Their customers, that’s who. The one group that consistently clicks on and reads my columns are the PCBDesign007 readers. Once or twice a month I will see my columns appear in the most read today/this week/this month top five lists. So, the PCB manufacturers don’t care about social media, but their prospective customers do! This is an opportunity that some savvy PCB manufacturers are taking full advantage of, while most of their competitors snooze. While competitors complain about how bad business is, smart manufacturers are using social media, which their prospective customers are interested in, to increase both visibility and credibility. There are maybe 10 PCB manufacturers using social media effectively, and as there are no barriers to using social media (you don’t have to be big, you don’t need money) that's way too few. They are doing themselves and their prospctive customers a disservice.
The ultimate irony of course, it that the readers of this week’s column, the PCB designers, will get a good chuckle out of it and the manufacturers will blissfully carry on. See you next week. Bruce Johnston is a sales consultant specializing in social media and especially LinkedIn. He has over 25 years experience in high-tech sales and management.