Volume 47, Issue 4 - April 2012

GANAPerspectives

The Glass Industry is Getting Social
Get in on the Action Today
by Brian K. Pitman

The terms “social media” and “social networking” almost universally draw suspicion from those who don’t partake frequently in the many wonders (and pitfalls) in this continually evolving form of communication. But each and every day, fewer people (especially businesspeople) remain suspicious, while more are not only recognizing the value in social media, but also are becoming experts who use it to achieve several business (and personal) goals. The glass industry is a microcosm of this sentiment, with a growing number of examples of social media’s effectiveness in the industry (see related story on page 28).

The Blog
A prime example of one of the earliest forms of social media, the blog, is being used very effectively by several people in the glass and glazing industry.

"Twitter is what you make of it."

One of these is Patricia Linthicum, who authors “Designers on Design” for USGlass’ sister publication, Decorative Glass magazine. Linthicum also has successfully crossed over to Twitter as the perfect medium for discussing the glass and glazing industry, as well as using its interactive features to lead discussions among many who fabricate glass. Linthicum established the #GlassChat discussion on Twitter. Held the first Thursday of each month, this insightful chat among a global community of glass artisans, manufacturers, suppliers, architects, designers and engineers crosses through just about every barrier of communication, and it is completely free and open to everyone.

What GANA’s Doing
Here at the Glass Association of North America, we have been using social media actively for the past five years to promote the technical efforts of the organization, to provide great information on our members and their products, as well as to solicit requests and information from the industry. Our first, and arguably most successful, use of social media has been through online video. GANA has broadcast video podcast interviews with various leaders and companies in the industry that have drawn hundreds of thousands of views. GANA has live broadcast presentations from two of its fall conferences, one featuring the governor of the state of Kansas and (then future) Guardian Industries Corp. CEO Scott Thomsen, which drew nearly 4,000 live viewers. GANA’s “How It’s Made” videos about float glass, mirror and PVB-based laminated glass draw tens of thousands of viewers each year.

GANA also has an active LinkedIn community, a Facebook page with live photo streams from various events worldwide, and, of course, a Twitter feed (@glassnation) that offers up live tweets from meetings and events, including Capitol Hill activities to make the industry a better place, as well as special discounts occasionally on GANA technical manuals, event registrations and more. We have even given away an iPad to a Twitter follower.

As an active user trying to explain the value of Twitter to someone who either has no experience with the platform, or someone who “just doesn’t get it,” I try to explain that Twitter is what you make of it. Sure, it can be nothing but people telling you what they ate for breakfast today (eggs, bacon and waffles), but it can also be your personalized “CNN” with a constant stream of breaking news and opinion about the glass industry. In short, if you put some effort into it, Twitter (like all social media) can be your tool to get ahead.

So, in closing, I encourage you to check out the many social media sources and platforms out there. Many of the glass and glazing industry companies put out great information daily (check out @icdcoatings, @guardianglass, @viracon_garret and, of course, @usglass to get you started on Twitter.) Keep at it and don’t be afraid to tweak your settings endlessly. You will get there.

Brian K. Pitman is the director of marketing and communications for the Glass Association of North America (GANA) in Topeka, Kan.


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