Is Social Media a Useful Tool or Waste of Time?

Senior Digital Editor Katherine Bonfante and I spent the majority of today at IMTS 2012 speaking with machine builders and industry professionals to find out if their product research and buying habits have changed over the years due to the way digital has transitioned our marketplace. We also wanted to know how industry professionals felt about social media and if they were using it.

Each year, Control Design conducts a machine buying habits survey to learn about the methods machine builders and system integrators prefer to use when conducting automation and control products research. Some of you tell us that you exclusively use vendor websites. Others prefer to speak directly to product experts at the automation suplier company. Has this changed for you over the years?

Here is a list of questions that we asked our machine builders:

  1. What is your primary research source for doing product research and specification? (i.e. web, direct to manufacturer, indirect to local distributor, trade shows,etc.)
  2. With the market evolving digitally, in what ways do you think it will change the way machine builders conduct product research and select components? 
  3. What challenges do you face when doing product research? What can suppliers do to make your research more efficient? 
  4. What types of information delivery methods do you like to use for product research? (o.e. webinars, video demonstrations, podcasts online forums, blogs, etc.) If you don't use any additional multimedia, what type of content do you think needs to be presented in multimedia outlets to get people to participate?
  5. Do you use social media personally? Which sites do you favor?
  6. Do you use social media professionally? Which sites do you favor? If not, why do you not find it useful to your business?
  7. What makes a suppliers website useful when doing product research?
  8. When doing product research on the web, does the search engine usually produce the results you are looking for?
  9. Google is no longer just looking at content hosted on a companies website when pulling search results. It soon plans to incorporatd trusted social media content into its search results.  With that said, do you think this will encourage suppliers to begin incorporating social media into their business and therefore force machine builders to participate in it as well?

We want to know your feedback on this topic, so send us your answers!