Using Social Media to Build a Community of Certified Professionals

Paul Hiller, ICML

Given that the mission of the International Council for Machinery Lubrication (ICML) is to help lubrication practitioners succeed and advance in their professional careers, it makes sense that the organization recently stepped up its activity on social media, particularly on Twitter and LinkedIn. This activity reflects only a small part of the organization’s strategic efforts to be more relevant to more people more often than before.

A few months ago, the organization commissioned its first brand/market research. The findings from this study are helping to guide ICML’s long-term decisions regarding the most effective ways to serve and support its growing worldwide network of practitioners, trainers, volunteers, partners and members in the years ahead.

ICML has other tactics in the works, too. For instance, the organization’s email communications have become more frequent, and a new website will soon launch with expanded member benefits, success stories, member recognition and a community discussion forum.

Community and Camaraderie

Studies have shown that employees often enjoy their jobs for reasons unrelated to compensation. While income is certainly important, it is not necessarily the primary driver that makes team members want to fulfill their duties day after day. For instance, a 2017 study of 615,000 Glassdoor users found that organizational culture and values are the largest predictors of employee satisfaction, while compensation was among the least influential, across all income levels. 

This should not be surprising. Many lubrication and oil analysis practitioners probably spend at least as much (if not more) time engaging with their colleagues as they do with their own families. Therefore, job-related relationships are going to impact employee satisfaction one way or another. 

“Camaraderie is more than just having fun, though,” observed Christine Riordan, president of Adelphi University. “It is also about creating a common sense of purpose and the mentality that we are in it together,” which fosters a very real esprit de corps of mutual respect and sense of identity.

But what if you are the only ICML-certified player trying to optimize your plant’s lubrication program? How can you develop helpful relationships with a community of like-minded professionals when you are the only one onsite? Beyond spending time with fellow teammates in the physical plant, employees can also find this esprit de corps through professional associations, volunteer activities, and even in virtual communities where they can regularly exchange ideas, establish long-distance friendships, showcase their expertise and conduct networking.

For the lubrication practitioner who needs a job to be more than just a paycheck or who seeks a broader network of associates than is available in his or her immediate workplace, participating in such opportunities can bring a greater level of personal satisfaction. And satisfaction is important, because happy employees are the best employees to have on your lubrication crew. They are inherently productive and confident, motivated to do their best, and more likely to stay with your organization.

ICML’s Role

In as much as ICML exists to help practitioners, it seems fitting that the organization provides opportunities for certified practitioners to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to see and be seen, to visit and build a community. Because its certified practitioners are spread across the globe, ICML’s online presence is as good a place as any to get started with virtual camaraderie.

This brings us back to the subject of online discussions for lubrication and oil analysis professionals. Even while developing new website content these past few months, ICML has depended on its Twitter and LinkedIn group channels to serve as community forums of sorts, with the idea that such forums can help foster camaraderie.

These venues make it easy for members and partners - in fact, all friends of ICML - to share articles, ideas, links, questions and answers about anything related to lubrication or oil analysis. These channels are also suitable for broader social support, which Riordan notes can include such matters as “rooting for each other on promotions, consoling each other about mistakes (and) giving advice.” 

ICML does what it can to seed these venues with starter topics and links to relevant articles, but the real community only grows out of personal engagement from certified practitioners and group members. True virtual community and camaraderie is organic; it can only be crowdsourced.

What types of starter topics does ICML find and post? Almost anything that deals generally with vendor-neutral stories that are relevant to its mission, market and members. Additionally, as the organization adds website content, it will also steer followers to ICML-sponsored success stories, case studies and blog posts. In the meantime, it scours the internet to prompt community engagement with a grab bag of Twitter topics and retweets about manufacturing news, people power, lubrication incidents, ICML exams, opinion articles and more. Of course, it’s not necessarily easy to grow camaraderie through a virtual community, so these Twitter and LinkedIn channels are just a start.

Years from now when you are retired from industry, what do you think you will miss more: lubrication tasks or the camaraderie of your colleagues and friends? As mentioned previously, ICML is pursuing a number of community opportunities as part of a larger strategy so that 2019 will be a more fruitful and memorable year filled with comradeship for all certified members.

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