Many companies are jumping into the social media waters with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc., but how well is it working? A survey of our RF and microwave readers shows that about 80 percent do NOT participate in social media. Wow, being a social media advocate, this number surprised me. While I still think it is a priority for companies to adopt social media as a part of their marketing efforts, this indicates that it should not be the primary channel for promotions and brand awareness.

I was also surprised to learn that here we are in 2011, and more than 50 percent of companies still block social networks in the workplace. There are certainly productivity and security concerns for companies, but there are ways to mitigate these issues. It shows that other digital channels and traditional print media are still the primary ways to hit your target audience in most cases.

It is important to start now in social media if you have not already done so because it can take a year or two to build up a reasonably good size audience. Getting a large following on Twitter, fans on Facebook, members in your LinkedIn group, etc. take time and effort. Microwave Journal has been building the RF and Microwave community on LinkedIn for close to two years and it has grown to 4500 members. However, it could not have been built up to that level in a matter of months. Our Facebook page in comparison only has a few hundred fans (although it was started later than the LinkedIn group). The grow rate of the LinkedIn group has been steady at about 10 per day while the Facebook page is growing much slower.

LinkedIn at this point is certainly more B2B oriented than Facebook as covered in our other social media article this month, and it shows in the adoption rate and group sizes. Therefore, it is currently a better tool for businesses in our industry. Twitter is a good way to get the word out about your products, interesting technology and company happenings. We find it very useful at trade shows to follow what is going on in the exhibition and conference and, of course, social events. Twitter seems to be more limited in the audience size and more populated by the marketing types who are typically not your target. You can follow the MWJ staff on Twitter by following editors David Vye @mwjournal and Pat Hindle @pathindle for editorial, opinion and news, and Kristen Anderson @KAatMWJ for promotional opportunities and events.

Keep the social media efforts going to build an audience that is interested in your products and technology, but keep balance in your marketing campaigns and efforts with other digital media and print ads depending on what works best for your company. The mix is always somewhat subjective, but try to use real metrics (ROI, # of leads generated, etc.) and pick appropriate tools depending on the goals of the campaign or program.