Are you paying attention?

06/04/2010

This blog has been on-line for twelve months now and we have been looking at the stats over that period.

"You pays your money...."

We have two blog presences one on the Blogger platform and this one on the WordPress system. We use the blogger presence for recording press releases as we get them with little editing other then some tidying up. This WordPress blog is used however, for material we write ourselves, or those written by guest authors. Reports on technologies, events, applications, company news and what we think are interesting topics to do with the automation field all find their way here.

Because it is a fairly new venture for us we were not sure what to expect. What sort of reaction we would get. Who, or how many would visit.

The Read-out Instrumentation Signpost is the principal and oldest presence of Read-out, Ireland’s journal of instrumentation, control and automation, on the world wide web. It is visited by between 4000 to 6000 unique visitors during each week. (When we started gathering statistics around ten years ago this figure was around 500!).

So what has happened in the last twelve months on this blog site?

The stats show that almost 4500 visitors visited the blog during the period, the bulk of which occured in the final six months. The first two months showed less that 70 visitors per month but then showed a steady rise up to the current average of 400 per month. Whether that is good or bad is difficult to say and it is also difficult to analyse these figures to decide why certain topics are more popular than others. One thing that is interesting is that visits occur to different pages through the period and not just at the time they go on-line.

There are also those people who are “followers” who visit each time there is a new posting (roughly once or twice a fortnight) and that is reflected in the large percentage (ca 20%) recorded as visiting the “home page.”

Perhaps surprisingly the most visited post visited was a piece about a presentation on Industrial Security which featured at the ISAExpo’09 with about 6%. The report on the actual show itself was way down in the ratings in 16th place. The next most frequented page was the report on a press event hosed by Emerson in the Netherlands in December. This report was narrowly pipped at the post by 4 visits by the Security feature. Other Emerson events also feature in the top ten, the User Group Meeting in October at fifth and Andrew Bond’s article on their CHARM launch also in October at seventh. This probably reflects the open attitude to social networking displayed by Emerson and their customers, when compared with some other automation entities.

A very close number three on our top-ten is the report on the splitting of GE Industrial Platforms and Fanuc (August’09). This was followed by a report on what Walt Boyes has identified as the “coming together” of Invensys in July’09, a report on the re-organisation of this giant in the automation world after a traumatic decade.

At number six is an item on Longwatch’s progress towards the “HMI revolution” with their integrated video into HMI systems (November 2009). We had reported the launch of this one our other blog in September’09.

Our personal favourite!

Number eight is our own particular favourite and was a critique on a book that we came across and which was recommended by Jon DiPietro of Bridge-Soft at ISAExpo’09. The book was called Meatball Sundae by a guy called Seth Godin. This easy to read book made an impression and this posting outlined some of his ideas.

Number nine was a surprise to us as it was the one item that last year attracted the most consistent viewings. Why? Because it talked about AN1H1 or “Swine flu”. It talked about an IR measuring system which could measure body temperature at a distance and thus be used in airports and other ports of entry and identify possible sufferers before they contaminated others. We suspect that this is so high because people googling for AN1H3 or Swine Flu would find this in their search.

Number ten is one that is fast moving up the list. This is John Saysell’sTop Ten Tips for the Industrial Trainer” which was posted in January of this year.

Most referrals not surprisingly came from our own website – read-out.net – but not a few came from Longwatch, MCP Europe and Emerson as well as various twitter and other social-networking referral sites.

Obviously many of our visitor clicked on the various links from the site. These do not we feel have great significence since there are too many variables like how many times they are mentioned in various blogs etc. But top of the list is ControlGlobal’s story of the split-up of GE & Fanuc, followed by Jim Pinto’s pages, Industrial Automation Insider and Jim Cahill’s Emerson Proicess Experts.

Top searches during the period were “GE Fanuc Split”, “AN1H3”, “INVENSYS”, and various Emerson personalities it would be too invidious to mention!

We posted 107 articles and we received 17,337 messages of which 75 were legitimate and 17262 were Spam Messages (protected by Akismet, the stop comment spam used by WordPress – phew!).

A graphical representation of twelve months viewing!


Social networking works! A true story!

04/02/2010

So what good is all this social media stuff anyway? It’s a waste of time! All these nerds hunched up over their laptops or iPhones – cometh the iPad?

Everybody can talk to everybody else! (Pic: google code)


Andrew Bond in Industrial Automation Insider comments (February Issue):
Can automation vendors afford to ignore the marketing potential of the ever burgeoning range of social networking tools now available? Almost certainly not, as  Readout editor Eoin Ó Riain’s recent experience demonstrates. He, along with INSIDER, was recently contacted by a mutual acquaintance – he’d better remain anonymous, at least for the time being – who had been asked to develop a small SCADA package for a wind turbine and wanted to pick our respective brains for
suggestions. We responded in the normal way with a few pointers but Eoin put out a call to the Automation Linked In Group as well as flagging up the request on Twitter and on his own blog.

The result, in less than a week, was approaching a dozen replies suggesting a range of potential solutions. Impressive in itself but what is perhaps most significant is that very few were either from or suggested any of the major vendors, despite the fact that Eoin had mentioned that our
enquirer was minded to use one of them.

You can’t help feeling that people are missing out here or, as Eoin put it when we mentioned it, “Maybe they are not social media aware!”

OK fair enough! I’ve been using twitter for around 8 months, and the same with Facebook. LinkedIn also for a while but we can’t say we have warmed to that as much as to the other two. (Though it is becoming more sensitive to user requirements as this development, “Reorder the Sections on Your LinkedIn Profile”  just announced shows!) And then we’re in a few NING sites.

We’ve given one or two thoughts on how we are finding things and progressing during that time. Social Media in July,  and then in November comes “Six months on”  as a sort of “how are we doing” report.

We have also published a few articles which although not specifically on social networking showed how it could, and was used in our business. Reports like Social media writes articles! or the reports on various user group meetings (especially memorable was the 2009 Emerson one partly because it was the first time we  really felt a participant in an event staged in Atlantic lapped Florida while still sitting and looking west thousands of miles across the same Atlantic lapping at the mouth of Galway Bay!) Finally we discovered a guy called Seth Godin whose little book gives a good idea as to what is happening here in Is your marketing out of synch?.

Today we give a small example of what this new thing can do.

In the last week of January an acquaintance asked us for some help. He also asked Andrew Bond of Industrial Automation Insider who commented in the February issue! (See box). We wrote about it on the blog as SCADA help requested! . And tweeted and “facebooked” this blog.

The same request was placed as a discussion on the LinkedIn group called Automation Engineers (5,510 members) with the title “SCADA for wind turbines!”

Within a few days we had eight (8) responses on the LinkedIn Site. We also had two private responses in the and there were four responses to the blog. In all there were fourteen responses, most of which were from people we had not heard of and would not have heard of but for using these platforms.

The quality of responses varied of course form straightforward plugging of a product (though surprisingly little) to the sharing of genuine user experience.

As said at the outset we have been extolling the virtues of social networking but had not used it in this way before and the thing that surprised us was the speed in which these responses came in. Hopefully some of them were helpful to our friend, they certainly gave much food for thought.

What would we have done before? Probably pawned off a general and unhelpful response wrapped in sympathetic language. But now we know, from experience, that if somebody come with a problem we have a whole world out there with people listening out for the call.

What is your social networking experience?