Social Media Marketing for Engineers

August 1, 2010

Imagine setting a new trend within a matter of hours just because you thought something was possible, interesting, and/or beneficial. The combination of social media and the influence power of engineers within the mechanical and specialty insulation industry are in one word breathtaking, and in another downright crazy.

Some key statistics: according to the Insulation Outlook circulation demographics, the majority of the people reading this magazine are engineers of some sort, and a large percentage are Mechanical Engineers. I assume a lot of readers reference the Mechanical Insulation Design Guide (MIDG) or the National Insulation Association’s (NIA’s) website at

Let’s combine these details with the fact that out of an estimated 224,749,695* websites in existence, ranks NIA’s website at 1,438,313. That’s a great ranking: 0.64 of the top 1 percent of all sites! (For our engineer readers, the true number is 0.639962158791806000 percent.)

If you have not seen the opportunity yet, let me open your eyes. Through the use of bookmarking, search, professional, and forum social media, you can turn your knowledge into the reliable source for the industry.

Bookmarking with Results

Social bookmarking is all about discovering and collaborating, and it works on the principle that what one member of an online community finds interesting and useful is likely to be of value to others. This is an especially powerful principle when the people who make up the community are all experts in their field. Therefore, while typically sites like Furl, Delicious, Digg, and Stumble Upon are the leading social bookmarking sites, I would recommend engineers check out IET Discover because this site is exclusively for people within the engineering and technology sectors.

Every bookmark in IET Discover contains information about the other people and groups who find it interesting. Being able to trace the sphere of interest in a particular resource provides invaluable qualitative information about its importance and popularity in a particular professional field. Traceability also fosters the process of discovery, leading you to other people, groups, and resources in your area of interest.

Serious Search Solutions

For most people conducting research I would recommend Dogpile; however, for the engineer I would once again recommend IET Discover. This is because the site combines traditional keyword search with social search, also known as a cloud. This powerful pairing of search technologies provides the optimum combination of depth and relevance.

The keyword search option in IET Discover provides deep penetration of the content in the directory. When you perform a keyword search, you are searching the full source content of the documents in the directory.

Social search uses data applied by people to optimize the precision of search results. When members add bookmarks to the directory, they categorize them using “tags.” These tags enable the search engine to understand exactly what each bookmark is about, providing results of optimum accuracy and relevance.

Professional Forums

Professional sites such as LinkedIn allow people to join specific groups with industry experts. Engineers can create groups and provide access to an industry guru for most connections who do not have time to dig around and find information for themselves. I suggest you integrate your LinkedIn account with Twitter and Facebook so you can send a tweet (a Twitter message) to someone or put a message on Facebook and get the assistance you otherwise wouldn’t have through a LinkedIn connection.

Distributing Information in Forums

Let us assume someone is curious about the formula for estimating heat loss/heat gain. You remember seeing the MIDG link on, so you conduct a search that takes you to the National Institute of Building Sciences’ Mechanical Insulation Design Guide. Under “Design Data” on the left navigation, you discover the information your social media bookmarking friend needs. So, you copy the URL from your browser and paste it into the forum. Other members will police the site to ensure your information is the best resource and will rank it to provide your tips as the most highly bookmarked. The system interprets this behavior as “perceived utility” and enables the resources to be ranked accordingly.


With more and more information online, it can be difficult to find good information on any topic. As an engineer, you can help the next generation or engineers with less expertise in your area by providing and ranking good information. Social media offer you enormous scope to impact your industry in a positive way with very little time or effort.