One of the long-established best-practices of Broadway producers is the out-of-town tryout. Before they put their reputations on the line and sink a lot of time, money, and effort into a major production, savvy producers first take it on the road to other major (but less critical) metropolitan cities. They'll "see how it plays," changing the script, scenery, songs and choreography, stage direction, and sometimes even the actors.

Out-of-town tryouts give producers the opportunity to test and tweak everything, so by the time their plays hit the bright lights of Broadway, they're certain that they have a long-running hit on their hands.

Social Media Tryouts

Industrial marketers can learn a lot from this strategy when making decisions about the use of social media, especially considering the current adoption rates. According to the March 2011 GlobalSpec report "Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector," adoption of social media among engineering, technical, and industrial professionals remains relatively low, though it is showing signs of growth.

Part of the low adoption rate is due to company restrictions on using social media during work hours. According to the report, 35% of respondents have restricted Internet access at work. Of those, 70% are restricted from using Facebook and 66% cannot access YouTube or Twitter. That's OK, though, because only 15% say they have a Twitter account anyway.

Even LinkedIn, which is considered the most business-focused among the most popular social networks, has low usage among this group: 63% say they do not have a LinkedIn account.

These low numbers might lead some industrial marketers to conclude that they can continue to ignore social media in their plans for the coming months. But if that's their takeaway, they're missing a tremendous opportunity: Though adoption may be slower than in the general marketplace, it is happening.

In 2009, only 12% of industrial users said they had a Twitter account, compared with 15% percent in 2010. Facebook adoption grew more rapidly, jumping from 42% to 59% in that same period. LinkedIn adoption rose to 37% from 32 percent.

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Chris Chariton is senior vice-president of product management and supplier marketing for GlobalSpec, a leading provider of digital media solutions that connect industrial marketers with their target audience of engineering, technical, industrial, scientific, and manufacturing sector professionals. Chris can be reached via