Technology PR agencies involved in business-to-business communications, are often challenged to decide on the most appropriate mix of social and traditional media as delivery channels for client messages.

The importance of social media within the marketing communications mix is undeniable but social media marketers, and those that sell social media services tend, not surprisingly, to overstate the case with respect to its importance in the B2B electronic components industry. They forget the most basic rule. Social media is important if your audience uses it extensively as a source of work-related information. Study after study has shown that Facebook and Twitter have negligible business usage amongst the electronic engineering community. Publitek’s 2011 European Engineer and Supplier Interface Study confirmed this, as did similar research in North America and Asia. When engineers search and select semiconductors for their designs, for example, traditional news sources are still dominant, albeit online or electronic versions of these sources, such as e-magazines. Whilst a few bloggers do have a good following, they tend to be the bloggers that are also mainstream technology journalists working for the major media brands. The availability of easy-to-use blogging tools did not spawn a new generation of talented technical writers, it just provided new outlets for the current generation – even if their publishers did have to push them kicking and screaming into embracing the medium.

The other point to consider is the definition of social media. Traditional media outlets, such as the online versions of magazines for electronics designers, allow readers to share comments and create a dialogue at the end of many news items. These outlets are therefore a form of social media, if you accept Wikiepedia’s definition: “Social media includes web-based and mobile based technologies which are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue among organisations, communities, and individuals.” The line between social and traditional is sometimes blurred.