Social Media Solves Networking Problems?


Thread Starter

Jim Montague

Dear Everyone -- I'm the executive editor of Control, Conrol Design and Industrial Networking magazines, and my cover article for the November 2012 issue of Industrial Networking is hopefully about how social media tools are being used to solve industrial networking problems in specific process and discrete control applications. However, I haven't heard of this happening much before, so I thought I would ask on some of the available forums, including the legendary I need specific examples from folks who can respond here or e-mail me or be interviewed about their experiences by mid-October, and be quoted in my article. The main questions I'm trying to cover and my contact information are below. Thanks ahead of time for your help. Cheers -- Jim

[INDUSTRIAL MEETS COMMERCIAL/SOCIAL -- cover of Nov 2012 issue of Industrial Networking -- need to interview by mid-Oct or earlier]

1. Business-level networking tools have been getting down closer to plant-floor networks in recent years, so how much are they overlapping and perhaps integrating now?

2. Are social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and others being used to assist industrial networking users and applications? If so, how and where?

3. Many engineers already use smart phones and tablet PCs on the plant floor, so do you know of any specific examples of them using social media tools to perform their jobs?

4. How are social media tools likely to emerge in industrial networks or in conjunction with them in the future?

Jim Montague, executive editor
Control (
Control Design (,
Industrial Networking
555. W. Pierce Rd., Suite 301
Itasca, IL 60143
(630) 467 - 1301, x 465
(630) 625 - 1125 (direct)
(847) 404 - 6658 (mobile)
[email protected] (e-mail)
It's fascinating to me that web fora, like this venue,, are not included in the social networking media category. What excludes web fora from social networking category? Who makes the rules? (yeah, I know, the guys with IPO. Money talks.)

When an established publisher comes to an established web forum to garner some response on the impact of social networking in the business world represented by the forum, it confirms my experience that the big names considered social networking don't offer much of anything or the publisher's earlier attempts would have yielded fruit.

My 2 cents:

Web fora work pretty well as a medium of discussion for resolving not only technical issues, but business issues as well. Few business issues on, but frequently has topics on bidding jobs, hiring people, pay scales, dealing with customers. In my mind, the web fora that cover industrial automation and control ARE its social networking medium. A lot of support and discussion happen on web fora.

With regards to the above mentioned recognized social media, my take:

Is youtube social networking? It is a place to check for technical support. It's always been flooded with video ads, but there will always be chaff with the grain. It's my number 2 place to hit for tech support.

I'm on LinkedIn. I belong to approx. 30 groups. Groups have an area for "discussion" which is somewhat like a web forum. However, only a handful of groups are moderated successfully, limiting discussion topics to the groups identity. Most groups are, for practical purposes, unmoderated and the discussion area is overwhelmed with promotional posts and recruiter posts, even though there are separate, dedicated, specific categories for those topics. Recruiter and promotional posts in the discussion area is spam. The discussions are flooded with spam.

If Linkedin has a search function within discussions I've been unable to locate it, which minimizes its utility.

I read this forum twice daily. I've responded hundreds of times. But I wouldn't be here unless it was so well moderated.

I have to be stuck in airport, finished with all my reports and bored to death to browse through a Linkedin discussion group, because there's too much spam to wade through. One or two of the automation groups wised up as recently as a month or two ago, and banned the spam, but most have not.

My one profitable use of Linkedin has been to message a contact, or find his email, to discuss a tech issue. That has worked out a couple times. The contacts have been people on fora like this, whom I recognize as competent in their with field but whom I can't contact or private message through the forum.

I hate push. It's a silly scheme to push. So was RSS. No thanks. Not me.

I'm on Facebook. It's social connections with my personal friends. I have never clicked a link to a company's presence on FB and probably won't.

Web Fora
What intrigues me is why so very few of the vendors support web fora like this one. There's only 4 or 5. Many of their own web sites are paltry when it comes to support documentation. A major European manufacturer has its own forum on its web site and in thousands of threads I've only ever seen one employee respond. Many posts that require factory support just languish, unanswered, because those of us on the outside just don't have access to answers.

I recommend what I know works to my customers. When they ask me about specific alternatives that they've heard about, I'll search the web fora for posts regarding the suggested product. It can be revealing. Do you want to go with something that no one on a forum with 30,000 subscribers has ever gotten to work successfully? Be my guest, but you're on your own.

Jim Montague

Dear David -- Thanks for responding to my questions. Would it be possible for your to identify yourself further and allow me to use some of your comments in my article? Please advise. Thanks again -- Jim Montague ([email protected])