Business of Engineering

Communicating with fellow engineers

What’s the best way to connect? Like many other responses to questions about engineering, the answer is “it depends”
By Amara Rozgus September 19, 2019
Photo courtesy: McKenzie Burns, CFE Media

Slack, Tumblr, Twitter, WeChat, video chat, PinterestTikTokInstagram, messaging  the list goes on and on. How many of these tools are you using today to connect to clients, colleagues and family?  

The worldwide data about social media and smartphone options is a bit overwhelming. The number of different apps available to the planet’s 5.1 billion smartphone users grows by the day. According to We Are Social, the number of unique mobile users grew 2.6% from April 2018 to April 2019. Jumping double-digit numbers over that same time period, mobile social media users grew 11%. 

Your ageing uncle most likely isn’t using Hootsuite to manage his social feeds, or posting to YouTube, but as these tools continue to grow worldwide, more people will move toward using these options for communication. The Center for Generational Kinetics reported in fall 2018 that 35% of Generation Z — loosely defined as those born 1995 to 2015 — use their smartphones one to four hours per day, and another 35% use them five to nine hours per day. They’re completely immersed in a mobile world, something that older generations might not be able to say. 

Engineers are a bit different. While certainly tech-savvy, engineers who participated in a 2018 Marketing to Engineers study managed by CFE Media, the parent company of this brand, had a different take. The 2018 report showed that 33% of respondents never used social media for work. The next biggest number, 16%, use social media two to three times per week.  

When respondents did use social platforms, the preferred channel is LinkedIn, with 79% of survey participants indicating they use it for work-related information. The primary reasons engineers don’t use other social networking tools is because the information is not credibly sourced by other engineers or just isn’t technical enough. While engineers might be using Facebook to connect socially to family and friends, they’re not finding it a useful tool to obtain information about products or specifications.  

In an ongoing research study being conducted by Consulting-Specifying Engineer, respondents have indicated thus far that about half of Generation Z are lacking communication skills, both internal and external, as they enter the workforce. That’s rather ironic, as these junior team members spend so many hours per day communicating on their smartphones.  

Back to the original question: What’s the best way to communicate? The answer appears to be a moving target, and individuals will need to keep up-to-date on the options.  


Amara Rozgus
Author Bio: Amara is the Editor-in-Chief/Content Strategy Leader for Consulting-Specifying Engineer.