When the #USAMfgHour hashtag was born on Twitter in early 2020, it had been inspired by something from the U.K. manufacturing circles. Two chats aptly named the #UKMfgHour and #MIBHour (Made in Britain) already had a following on Twitter. Those who were in manufacturing and marketing were joining together to share ideas within their industry.

How It Began In The US

Dan Bigger, Director of Marketing for Chenango Valley Technologies in Sherburne, New York, was a founding member of the community in the U.S. He had been watching and participating in the U.K. chats and thought the same should be happening in this country. Bigger, along with several others in the manufacturing industries in the U.S., developed the chat, which quickly caught the attention of the manufacturing community in the U.S. In less than a year, the American version of the chat which became the #USAMfgHour, grew exponentially. It even gained attention around the world.

Bigger said success of the U.S. group is measured by its growth.

“Do we continue to grow and add new participants, hosts?” he asked rhetorically. “Success can also be measured by how the group works together. Many assist each other in and out of the chat.”

Bigger doesn’t remember when it launched, but he remembers it being a collaborative idea among several regular Twitter users manufacturing. The goal was connection.

Kirsten Austin, from DCSC, Inc. in St. Louis, Missouri, was also part of the founding group. She said the initial goal was to encourage manufacturers to keep jobs in America, promote an understanding of obstacles or challenges, and report any positive news for U.S. manufacturing.

As she writes on the DCSC blog: “We encourage anyone who champions U.S. manufacturing to pipe in with positive blogs, helpful articles, news, important information, accomplishments, events, etc. during our #USAMfgHour every Thursday.”

Ruby Rusine, Chief Social Media Content Planner at Social Success Marketing in El Dorado Hills, California, was instrumental in the collaboration of the group in its initial form, too.

“The first year was the year of finding our groove and getting to know each other,“ Rusine said. “It was a year of building trust; like, are we really in to help and assist U.S. manufacturers and its advocates, setting aside personal interests? I think the leadership of #USAMfgHour has proven that.”

Join The Group

Any company can host questions on the #USAMfgHour hashtag on Thursdays. The only caveat? Questions must relate to manufacturing in some way, to keep it relevant, of course.

Every participant in the chat reads and answers questions related to manufacturing and, in turn, they feel more connected and knowledgeable than before. Now that the #USAMfgHour chat has been ongoing for more than a year, some common themes have emerged.

  1. Every person knows something we don’t. Learning is a two-way street, and the Thursday chats prove it. Someone might share a link to free design templates or provide information about an upcoming webinar that relates to your business. Learning is a largely impactful result of the #USAMfgHour chat.
  2. Social media can be fun. We all know the down sides to social media, but when used for good, social media can be a great place for connection. For one thing, connecting on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram helps set your brand identity and personality. For another, these connections have other connections. And they have other connections. And so on. If you don’t know someone personally, someone out there does. Social media is a great place to stay connected, build relationships, and network. The fun of this chat is that many participants prefer the use of silly gifs and images that convey emotion or provoke laughter. The chat is often light-hearted, which keeps people coming back.
  3. The manufacturing community is far, wide, and strong. While manufacturing has been the crux of America since the Industrial Revolution, the entire civilized world wouldn’t be where it is without manufacturing of some kind. As we build the #USAMfgHour community, we continue to reach other countries across the world in the chat. If a person touches manufacturing in some way, the #USAMfgHour community is a place to learn and grow.

Bigger said he sees the chat continuing indefinitely. “As long as the community feels it is valuable for all,” he said. “We like the fact that the chat is not self-promotional. It is a way to share information with each other and gain knowledge from each other. As long as that continues, and we keep our hosts and topics relevant, the chat will continue to grow and spread. That is and always will be the goal.”

As it moves forward, the #USAMfgHour chat includes more people from around the country who share the same two passions: marketing and manufacturing.

The collaboration has already spawned new projects and new ways to market their respective companies. Rusine said there is much more to come for this chat and those who participate.

 Future Growth Encouraged

“For this year and the future, I am looking at more manufacturing companies to join the chat as we build on the relationships we’ve forged during the first year,” she said. “I am looking at more collaborative projects on the horizon. As to what exactly that is, I’d say the limit is anyone’s imagination. As an example, no one planned this, but there are some #USAMfgHour companies that expanded to having others in the community guest-blog for them.”

Christine Torres Hicks, of Graphic Products, Inc. in Beaverton, Oregon, compiles a recap of each of the #USAMfgHour chats each week and provides them on her company’s blog. On May 6, the community chatted about Reshoring Back to America. The chat, led by Harry Moser of the Reshoring Initiative, was a hot topic as many manufacturers that participated had already been thinking strategically about reshoring.

The link to the Reshoring blog can be found here: https://www.graphicproducts.com/blog/reshoring-back-to-america/

Find Torres’ recaps online each week on the Graphics Products blog: https://www.graphicproducts.com/blog

As those in the chat have seen, the sky’s the limit. When collaboration and teamwork are nurtured, big things can happen. Perhaps what we’ll see next is the hashtag trending each week as more participate.

To join in the chat, you’ll need a Twitter account. Then follow hashtag #USAMfgHour at 1pmCT/2pmET every Thursday.