How Techies Use Social Media And How That Can Help You

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May 4, 2012

There seems to be this overarching assumption that the way the general populace uses social media is the same way that technical talent will use social media. And while that might be true on a larger scale (for example, social networks as a whole are gaining more members and more professional members at the same time), is it really true on a more tactical and operational level?

The folks over at GlobalSpec put out a report recently on the “industrial use” of social networks. And while the report is geared more towards marketers and sales professionals, there’s much in the report for recruiters. First, let’s touch on LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn membership grows, groups usage examined

From 2010 to 2011, LinkedIn continued to gain more members across the board and around the world,  and the same seems to hold true for this survey. Among the groups surveyed (engineering, technical, manufacturing, and industrial professionals according to GlobalSpec), LinkedIn usage grew from 37% of professionals to 55% from 2010 to 2011. That’s a big year-to-year jump.

While using LinkedIn was probably a no-brainer for many recruiters, it is good to know that this continues to be an area that LinkedIn might be even better at covering than the past. Yesterday, LinkedIn reported it was up to 161 million members, and nearly two-thirds of those joining are from outside the U.S.

Source: GlobalSpec

Another part of the survey examined the use of the group functionality in LinkedIn. More than three in four people surveyed were in five groups or less. I think anyone who has searched for people outside of the recruiter, and super-networked groups of people isn’t too surprised. Maybe more surprising is that nearly a quarter are in more than five groups. Even for recruiters creeping up on their group membership limit, that means a better chance of possibly connecting.

Most group members are understandably passive. While most are reading discussions, they are doing little else. Nearly half report themselves as simply being a member.

Trends: Facebook tops, Google+ beats Twitter?

Adoption rate of Facebook is still number one, capturing 66% of those surveyed. And the survey indicates that people might be using Facebook for more business-related activities.

Three in five surveyed like pages of companies, and join groups in their industry on Facebook. A little less than 40% participate in work-related discussions or read content related to work on Facebook.

That indicates to me that at least some of your likely audience is open to work-related discussions on Facebook (which, of course, includes employment).

Maybe the most surprising stat is that while only 22% of those surveyed had a Twitter account, a sort of shocking 29% have a Google+ account. That would be the same Google+ that started in 2011. Considering Twitter’s tepid growth in comparison to other social networks among this sector of professionals, if you are doing major sourcing in this area, Google+ might be worth a second glance to make sure you are making efficient use of the platform.

Usage trends and changes to consider

Overall, techies still seem largely consumptive when they use social media. They are using these networks to primarily gather information and network with people in their industry. Nearly a third admit using it to find a new job.

So what can you take away from this?

  1. Think consumable content — If the main way people are using LinkedIn groups and other social media is through content consumption, be a giver. If you don’t have the expertise to contribute or know what is good to share, ask around or get help.
  2. Connections in odd places — It may feel weird to connect and contact through Facebook, but this survey seems to suggest that the idea of Facebook being a personal-only experience might be outdated. While some won’t want to connect with you through the platform, it could be less taboo than before.
  3. That new network might be worth something — Count me among the people who still doubt Google+ can truly stand out among other social media sites, but the suggestion that Google+ is popular among the technically inclined seems to be confirmed by these numbers. As always, stay on top of news and keep the door open for possible searches on newer, more niche sites.

You can get the entire report from here with a few fields of the form filled out.

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