In early April, the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that publically traded companies can announce corporate news to investors via social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Until then it was not allowed because it might provide an unfair advantage to those who see it there before others who are not involved in social media. When a U.S. government agency officially rules on something like this, it is a clear sign that social media has become mainstream.

Each year, we take a look at the state of social media as related to the microwave industry as the MTT-S IMS show approaches since that is a popular time for the exchange of ideas and product promotion via social media. For the last couple  of years, we have been talking about how social media is continuously growing, but it is clear today that it is an integral part of our lives.

LinkedIn has seen very strong growth in its use among engineers as evidenced by the size of our RF and Microwave Community, now more than 17,000 members. Some aerospace and defense groups and large event groups like Mobile World Congress and CTIA have tens of thousands of members. LinkedIn is still widely used for job searching and networking along with exchanging ideas and sharing technical information. A key strength of the site is the large variety of focused groups that allow users to choose specific areas of interest and get involved in the conversation about their work expertise or personal interests. Another advantage of LinkedIn is that it is accessible in China where Facebook and Twitter are blocked.

Although many companies in our industry have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, it seems the trend for individuals is to gravitate toward LinkedIn for work-related purposes. LinkedIn clearly seems to serve more as a professional forum whereas Facebook and Twitter seem to be personal and lighthearted in nature. Google+ has grown rapidly of late and is trying to compete with Facebook but it has a long way to go. Of course, there are other social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest.

We first wrote about Pinterest, a virtual bulletin board site where people can put together boards of their favorite photos that link back to the pages where they appear, last year as a virtual part of our new products section. Businesses are still finding uses for Pinterest, kind of in the state where Twitter was a few years ago. Consumers first jump in and as the user base grows, businesses start to find ways in which they can generate traffic to their content.

Microwave Journal is again using Pinterest to create new product boards using entries from our IMS 2013 Product Showcase (boards can be viewed at We have developed Pinterest boards by product category using pictures of products that will be featured at the exhibition. The pictures link to descriptions of what the company is featuring at the show including the specific product “pinned” on the board. These are available on our Online Show Daily page along with show news, a Twitter feed, conference messages from the chairs, special session information, and more.

Last year in Montréal, about a dozen companies were very creative in using social media to highlight their presence in the exhibition. The Passport to IMS 2012 Montréal program, spearheaded by Jamie Leger of SLN and Judy Warner of Transline, gave participants a passport book with 12 exhibitors listed in it and they had to visit a number of the booths to get their passport stamped. This year they are doing the “Road to IMS Seattle” in which attendees will be provided with a map to take around the exhibition to get a stamp from sponsoring companies. When completed, they can turn it in for daily prize drawings.

Trade shows are a perfect time to use Twitter to highlight interesting sessions, great booth giveaways, new product releases and great places to visit in the area. If you plan to use Twitter at MTT-S IMS this year, use the hashtag #IMS2013 so that people can easily follow your Tweets. Our Online Show Daily page ( will have a real-time Twitter feed displaying them.

At this time last year, some companies were pouring most of their efforts into social media but most have learned now that it is just one part of an integrated marketing effort to promote the company and its products and services. While much of it may be free, without some planning, hard work and a strategy, it is of limited value.