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The Social Side of Design News

The Social Side of Design News

In last month's column, I noted my plans to launch a social media group for online interaction with Design News' global audience. I'm happy to announce that the group is now up and running and can be accessed here.

So that we're all on the same page with the intent of this group, here's an outline of the initial plan: The site, at present, consists of a discussion area and a news area. The discussion area is reserved for actual discussion topics - not news announcements or promotion of any kind. Acceptable topics include anything related to Design News' realm of coverage, which includes: automation & control, electronics/test, materials & assembly, and software/hardware design tools. We may eventually create subgroups on the main group site to accommodate vertical discussions, but for now, the main group site will be a catch all.

Please feel free to post discussion topics on the group site. Though you will regularly see us feeding new topics into the discussion area, this group is for you. We'll manage the group and remove non-relevant discussions ASAP, but the main idea is to have you play an active role - that's not only what makes it more interesting, it also makes it more valuable to you and your engineering peers. So go ahead, ask a question about the optimal use of a particular MCU, get feedback from others about specific material types, inquire as to whether anyone has yet tried a wireless connection for automation networks, find out what your peers think about certain software capabilities, etc. Feel free to dish out some controversial issues for response as well - as long as it's relevant to the group's topics and not libelous, of course. Within reason, our intent is to keep this group as no-holds-barred as possible.

Beyond the ability of this group to be the avenue for connecting with your peers on a global basis, it will also serve to help guide Design News' editorial direction. Once a solid critical mass of members have joined the group, seeing what kinds of issues really take hold with the group will keep the Design News editorial team tuned in - in real-time - with the topics that are of highest interest to you.

With all that said, I would be remiss if I did not address some of the negative feedback I have already received about our plans for leveraging social media to connect with the global design engineering audience. Some of the comments I have received include:

  • Social media discussion groups are packed with people "trying to sell something."

  • "Since I am neither a teenager nor sexually frustrated adult, I don't have any need" for social media.

Based on my experience in creating social media groups for engineers and research conducted with those groups, I have found that the average member of such groups tends to be in his/her late 30s or early-to-mid 40s with 10-plus years of experience in engineering. These engineers join these groups to stay on top of the latest engineering issues, have a sounding board for their questions and concerns, and to connect with their peers on a much broader level than is possible through work or a conference-type of environment. And as I noted above, the site will be regularly monitored to remove discussion posts from people who are only trying to sell something and not truly contribute to the conversation.

I look forward to connecting with you in our new social media group and seeing what you have to say.
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