Hey, have you heard this G-code joke?
Well, y'know what they say?
(THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE)
G28 X0.0 Y0.0 Z0.0
That’s the opening tweet from @ShopFloorHumor, a Twitter account set up by Shop Floor Automations (SFA), a reseller and distributor of CNC hardware and software, particularly machine monitoring software. With an eye toward a younger manufacturing audience, the company has launched a Web comic series called “Shop Floor Man Presents” with the intention of carving out a space for manufacturing-related humor on social media, especially Twitter.
The comic appears in two-panel stories in which the main character, Shop Floor Man, shows life with SFA’s software solutions compared with exaggerated horrors he faces elsewhere, as in the tweet below.
Other comics will riff on familiar trials faced by machinists everywhere as well as other industry-related humor, like this one released for Manufacturing Day 2016 a couple weeks ago.
Obviously, the comic serves as a marketing and promotional tool for the company. But it’s also an intriguing entrance into a sphere not many other manufacturers have explored to date, one with the potential to tap into the lived experience of younger, millennial audiences.
“Having a footprint online aside from just a website is so crucial,” says Amanda Rosenblatt, SFA’s marketing coordinator and the comic strip artist. “You have middle school kids, high school teens and college-age young adults who we are trying to get into this industry, or people like the military veterans being trained at organizations like Workshops for Warriors. These people of these various age groups are attached to their devices and social media; we can reach them and show them this industry is a community.”
In the sometimes convoluted Venn diagram of manufacturers, millennials and social media, Web comics could be a particularly effective way to bridge culture gaps and to foster community through shared experience. A lot of web comics are shared on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and many of the those popular among young adults cleverly comment on the existential questions that inform many of their (our) tweets (@SaraCAnderson and @poorlydrawn_lol come to mind as notable examples).
In a similar way, the scope of Shop Floor Man could be described as commenting humorously on the existential issues of life as a machinist. In fact, even the “poorly drawn” aesthetic is something that may be familiar to many younger Twitter users who read web comics. Concerning the art, Rosenblatt chuckles and says, “I think it is a bold statement because, really, [Shop Floor Man] is purposely drawn badly. That’s why we have the tagline ‘Our solutions are better than our comics.’ No one at the company, including myself, has the time to draw or commission someone to make an amazing comic, but we have the humor, stories and resources to make people laugh. There’s charm to him.”
She adds that the comic has even contributed to SFA’s own internal community-building: “We gather ideas and feedback on comics from the whole company, so it’s fun for them to get involved, and the final product is a group effort.”
Find more of the company’s antics by following @ShopFloorHumor on Twitter. For more on using humor to bridge gaps on social media, see our past blog post, “Could This Be the First Really Great Machine Shop Meme?”.