Connected tools for the irrigation industry

Use the power of social media to your benefit as a professional resource and networking tool for irrigation contractors.
Social media platforms serve as ways to bring irrigation industry members together, share ideas, solve problems and see each other's work.

I am not a huge social media person, but like many in our industry, I find the irrigation technician groups on platforms like Facebook to be fascinating. Fascinating probably includes entertaining, enlightening and frustrating at times, too.

Several years ago, after the email groups started to fade, other irrigation industry groups started to form on the social media platforms. The first ones I noticed appeared on LinkedIn. It seemed to be a good opportunity for industry professionals with similar interests to share ideas and information, ask questions and provide support. While it seemed like there were a lot of industry “movers and shakers” joining these groups, it didn’t seem like there was a lot of activity or engagement.

Fast forward a few years and groups of irrigation industry professionals started forming on Facebook. Today there are several groups that are very active. “Irrigation Professionals Forum” has 4,200 members, “Irrigation & Sprinkler System Tech Talk” is the largest and has 9,500 members. “The Real Irrigation Professional’s Forum” has 5,300 members, and “Irrigation Tech Nightmares” has 2,800 members. Anyone with a Facebook account can request to join these groups. There are several other smaller groups with different requirements for joining and different focus areas. Most are focused on landscape irrigation. While all seem to be directed at the professional, some do allow end users to join and ask do-it-yourself questions to the professionals in the group.

Allow me to share a few of my thoughts on the entertaining, enlightening and frustrating:

  • Let’s start by accepting that at least 90% of the group members observe and rarely engage beyond a like or two. Those that are engaged are very passionate about their industry. There are folks in our industry who have never had a soapbox to preach from, and this has given them a great opportunity to let their message be heard. It has empowered some of these folks into new industry influencers.
  • There seem to be certain topics that will never be solved but seem to somehow get rehashed on a daily basis. For example, take the comparison of PVC to poly pipes or which manufacturer is the correct choice for a product.
  • As a general statement: Doing something for 30 to 50 years does indicate lots of experience. However, it does not necessarily mean it is the right way or the only way to do something. Similarly, if hundreds of posts indicate they may do something a certain way and a handful indicate they don’t, that, too, doesn’t mean the majority rules and that is the correct way to do something.
  • These groups have a lot of members and a lot of influencers. Any manufacturer, distributor, trade organization or affiliated business that provides services to our industry that doesn’t monitor or have some presence is either wasting a huge opportunity or assuming a significant risk. While there are clearly other platforms that are more focused on delivering information about products and services, there are not many other places in our industry where such a large group of those that use these products and services are free to express their opinions. These are opinions and they might be accurate, complimentary, informational, respectful or not.
  • As an industry trainer, it is very enlightening to see how and what our industry professionals have learned and experienced over time. If a technician follows the diagnostic strategies we profess in our industry and uses the tools we have available to us correctly, it almost always leads to the solution of the problem. It is very rewarding to see time and time again. Guessing at solutions is simply a guess.
  • And lastly, I have learned a lot from these groups, but I am forever reminded that not everything on the internet is true.

Who knows where this will all go? It is an incredible benefit to our industry to have forums like this where practitioners can get together and share ideas, solve problems together and see each other’s work, and offer some reinforcement, both positive and maybe a bit too regularly, rather negative. There are other platforms under development that will support these groups. They will likely be more focused, more common and on many more platforms, including many that we haven’t heard of that will probably become household names. Not everyone has a lot of interest in social media, but for anyone that is interested in our landscape irrigation industry, these groups are worth a look.

Christopher Pine, CLWM, CID, CIC, CLIA, CIT, MCLP, is a principal of IrriTech Training and the president of BluGreen Solutions in Pocasset, Massachusetts. He can be reached at chris@irritechtraining.com.

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