Think PVC or PET, not C-A-T, for SPE's social networking site

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: May 1, 2014 12:04 pm ET
Updated: May 1, 2014 2:07 pm ET

Willem (Wim) De Vos

Related to this story

Topics ANTEC
Companies & Associations Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE)

LAS VEGAS — The Society of Plastics Engineers is taking concrete steps to reach young people — with a rollout of a social network later this year — and all people interested in plastics technology, on a just-launched website.

SPE officials said the social networking site, called The Chain (a play on the term polymer chain), will be a place where SPE members can interact — sort of like LinkedIn or Facebook, but more focused on plastics technology when it launches in the fall.

So far, SPE has invested $300,000 in the website, new apps, upgrading the society’s own ERP system and planning of the social media site, said Willem De Vos, SPE’s CEO. The website went live in mid-April, he said.

“We have a technical library which will be by far the biggest digital library in the world for plastics technology,” he said at a news conference April 28 during Antec 2014, SPE’s annual technical smorgasbord. “We’re still loading papers. When it will be finished, it will contain between 25,000 and 30,000 technical papers.”

Those papers are from Antecs going back to 1995, when the society began offering its Antec papers in digital format, as well as from the 40-some conferences a year held by SPE divisions around the world, De Vos said. SPE also will offer content from Plastics Engineering, and its publishing partner, John Wiley & Sons Inc. An app for the magazine became available just before Antec 2014.

On SPE’s website, users will be able to search the huge number of technical papers by key word, author, and phrase. All papers that apply to the search will come up. You also will be able to search Antecs by year, De Vos said.

It takes time to load the papers, he said, because each one’s title has to be manually coded to enable the search.

The old website was hard to search, and outdated, he said. As the world’s largest trade association dedicated to technical knowledge, SPE has plenty of content, but needs to improve how it gets disseminated.

SPE’s incoming president, Vijay Boolani, said the goal is to have the SPE’s website provide a much more focused, useful search than a Google search. This also will help SPE attract young members — a major goal for the society, which is based in Newtown, Conn.

“Everything before was so spread out. If you come to a website and you see it has technology from 10 years ago, you won’t be attracted to it,” Boolani said.

De Vos said it will be a major improvement. “So now if you come to the website as an engineer, to search for something, there is a central search function which will search through everything and it will give you an update on everything. For example, if you put in the word ‘polyolefin’ or ‘polyurethane’ you will get xx-number of papers,” he said.

The name of the website remains the same: www.4spe.org.

Antec 2014, drew about 1,700 people to Las Vegas April 27-30. They could choose from 600 technical papers and panel discussions on new technology, materials and current events issues. Antec also featured a trade show with 106 exhibitors. De Vos said Antec is the largest plastics event in the United States this year.

De Vos said he prefers to meet people face to face, at SPE meetings throughout the year. But as SPE prepares its social network, he speculated on what the future holds.

“You may think this is the mode of associations and societies of the future. Where people, rather than coming together physically, there will be groups existing in a virtual manner all over the world,” he said.

That is likely to increase as SPE becomes more international. About one-third of the total membership of about 15,000 comes from outside of North America, he said. SPE is holding many more international events, including conferences in India, China, the Middle East, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

And SPE — which has less than half the members it had in the 1990s — continues to fight to draw new young people, and keep its college student members in the fold after they graduate.

They can go on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter or LinkedIn. When it’s launched this fall, they can join The Chain.

“It will be virtual,” De Vos said. “There will be several virtual places where you can hold your discussions, mostly discussions about technology in the plastics industry.”

 At least initially, SPE will monitor discussions on the site and have moderators leading the discussions. “Why? Because we want to keep this as a high-quality site. We don’t want people to start advertising their products. We don’t want people looking for a job. No. It will be high-quality technical discussions on that platform,” De Vos said.

SPE even changed its logo, making it sleeker and in a bright green color on the website.

The website has only been live a few weeks, not enough time to measure its effectiveness, but De Vos said that already, the “bounce rate” — the number of people who come to the site, then leave quickly without going to another page — is now 20 percent, way down from 60 percent on the old site.


Comments

Think PVC or PET, not C-A-T, for SPE's social networking site

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: May 1, 2014 12:04 pm ET
Updated: May 1, 2014 2:07 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story

Market Reports

Plastics Recyclers Data Report & Directory

This exclusive MS Excel database contains all the companies from Plastics News' ranking of top North American Recyclers and Brokers by reprocessed volume and also includes a directory with materials processes, services offered and company contact information. Data is based on primary research by PN editorial staff.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events