Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


E-mail Steve
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio

    free counters

    Twitter Feed

    Entries in socal networking (42)


    The Last HR Pro not on LinkedIn

    Last week I had a chance to present to a great group of about 100 or so HR, Talent, and Recruiting professionals at a local SHRM event in Virginia. I like getting to these kinds of local HR gatherings - they provide a much better view into the real concerns and challenges in the HR trenches, and usually are bereft of the collection of often jaded and a little too smug and ironically detached, 'professional' conference attendees. Sure, I get it, you are sick of hearing the 71st talk on 'Why Social Media is Important for HR', but in case you have not realized it, actually attending the same presentation dozens of times at events all over the country make you the one who is a little weird and out of the mainstream, not the HR pro at a 300-person company that is trying to figure out how, if at all, having a Twitter account will help her get her job done.

    But back to the point - at the session where I was talking to the group about changes and trends in workforce technologies, naturally the use of the public, or consumer social networking sites was brought up, I think in the expected context of how they are being used for various aspects of the talent acquisition function. I asked the attendees to share some examples of how they are incorporating these networks in their organizations, and a few folks shared what they were doing to share job openings and company information on Facebook and source candidates on LinkedIn. Nothing unusual here, a few attendees, (maybe 10% of the group), had some 'active', (not just trolling for candidates), activity on social networks, but what was interesting to me was as the conversation continued, one audience member told the group she had never created a personal LinkedIn profile. I pressed her as to why she was not on LinkedIn, and she promptly replied, 'I just don't have time for it. I'm busy'. I jokingly suggested she was the last HR pro not on LinkedIn.

    The group continued to discuss both social networking and other kinds of new technologies that are impacting the workplace and the practice of HR, but I could not get out of my head that in late 2012, there was still one smart, engaged, (she took the time to attend a professional development and networking event), and experienced HR/Talent pro that had not found her way to LinkedIn, if nothing else to set up a shell profile on the site. I even came back to her a couple of times later in the session when the conversation shifted to mobile technology, and how the usage patterns in consumer tech are effecting enterprise tech, I think my comment was 'You are all on your iPhones, updating your Facebook and checking out who has viewed your LinkedIn page, well except for you, (giving a mock-disgusted look towards the one LinkedIn holdout).'

    The point of all this? 

    I guess a couple of things stood out after thinking about it a little longer.  One, there still exists a pretty significant knowledge and value perception gap between most of the front line, working HR professionals and those of us that think about and use new technologies every day.  There are really still very few 'real' HR pros out there that are as obsessed with this stuff, as it just does not move the needle for them on their day-to-day. Two, while participation and use of these social technologies might level the playing field to some extent between larger and better-financed organizations and smaller ones, that effect is limited. A couple of audience members from very large organizations shared what they are doing with social and branded talent communities, a level of commitment and effort that simply can't be approached by smaller companies.

    Last, and maybe the only fascinating part of this entire post, is that after taking some good-natured ribbing from me, (and even the presenter that followed me), the HR pro who had been the one LinkedIn holdout approached me at the end of the day to let me know that she would be, after all, setting up a LinkedIn profile when she got home.

    Good for her!

    And bad for you, the 'savvy' HR pro who is all over social media and social networking - that is one more competitor for talent that you have to worry about.

    Have a Great Week!


    Playing offense on social media

    Some time back the great Paul Hebert wrote one of the best pieces in the last few years over on Fistful of Talent, titled, HR Plays Too Much Defense.  You should stop what you are doing and read it, or re-read it as the case may be, then come back for a recent and I think perfect example of Paul's ideas played out in the corporate social media space. I'll wait.

    Ok, back? I told you Paul's piece was money.

    So here's my example of playing offense, or at least not sitting back and playing defense, from one of those classic 'Love them or hate them' organizations, Goldman Sachs.

    Of course you'll remember the recent resignation flame-out from former Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith, who took to the New York Times op-ed page to trash Goldman's culture, draw attention to their bad treatment of clients and customers, and essentially portray the firm as a horrible, horrible place to work, one where a high-minded and formerly optimistic, but now jaded person like himself could no longer be comfortable with.

    Well last week Smith sat down with the Times once again, to talk about his soon to be released tell-all memoir 'Why I Left Goldman Sachs'.  Turns out that according to the piece in Times last week, the 'tell-all' doesn't really have that much to say, in fact the headline of the piece, 'A Tell-All on Goldman Has Little Worth Telling', paints Smith equal parts greedy, out-of-touch, and disappointed with his personal compensation, as some kind of crusader to protect customers and reveal deficiencies in Goldman's culture.

    Goldman, upon seeing the latest Times' piece, issued the below tweet from their official Twitter account:



    Man, that's a burn.  At least from Goldman's point of view, the Times' provided the initial platform for Smith's enmity and accusations, and now after some time and more details are revealed by Smith via his memoir, essentially has to admit there really isn't much there there. Goldman's swipe at the Times is, at least to my view, a great example of taking the offense, in a way that is snarky but still measured, and one that certainly seems to be in line with their reputation and culture.

    Let me be clear about one thing, I am not an apologist for Goldman at all, and their role in the financial crisis of 2008-2009 has been pretty well documented. Next year a former Goldman trader will be tried for civil fraud for his role in the subprime mortgage scandals. Goldman's hands are not at all clean.

    But that makes their little dig at the Times even more refreshing I think.  It is easy, especially when you might not have the most respected brand, to sit back, to try not to offend, to play by a really restrictive set of rules, but like Paul pointed out in the FOT piece, playing defense all the time is playing not to lose.

    Do you want to play to win, whether it is in HR, marketing, recruiting, or social?

    Then you have to score some points.

    And the Goldman example above reminds us even the 'bad' guys can get over sometimes as well.


    Your 735 Facebook friends? They're probably not.

    I've written before on the blog about the famous 'Dunbar's Number', from the seminal piece of research by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar that theorized that the number of stable, close social relationships, (typically what we'd call 'friendship'), that humans can sustain at any given time is about 150.

    In the old post I referenced some additional academic research that suggested that even with the ubiquity, popularity, and increasing familiarity with the concepts of online social networking, that Dunbar's number still more of less holds.  Or said differently, no matter how many 'friends' you make on social networking sites, unalterable things like brain size and the human capacity to form and maintain relationships have not changed, even though your 903 Instagram followers suggest otherwise.

    But better than taking my word for it, or reading through a tedious academic research paper, check a recent, short interview with Robin Dunbar himself, that plainly re-states what I know you know is true - no matter how large our social connections grow, we can't truly expand significantly the number of stable relationships that can be maintained.

    From the interview on the Technology Review blog:

    Q. You famously posited that humans have the cognitive capacity to maintain about 150 stable social relationships. How have tools such as Facebook changed our capacity to handle social connections?

    Dunbar: Apparently not at all. It is important to remember that the 150 is just one layer in a series of layers of acquaintanceship within which we sit. Beyond the 150 are at least two further layers (one at 500 and one at 1,500), which correspond to acquaintances (people we have a nodding acquaintance with) and faces we recognize.

    All that seems to be happening when people add more than 150 friends on Facebook is that they simply dip into these normal higher layers. If you like, Facebook has muddied the waters by calling them all friends, but really they are not. (emphasis mine).

    This isn't to say that social-networking services don't serve a useful function in facilitating our interactions with our "friends," but what they don't seem to do is allow us to increase the number of true friends.

    So what, you might be thinking. We inherently know, no matter how many hundreds or thousands of social connections we make, with whom we want to or even have the capacity to maintain close, stable relationships with, the kind of relationships that Dunbar's number suggests max out at about 150.

    And that may be entirely true. But as the lines between personal and professional networking and relationships are almost completely gone for many people in their use of social networks like Facebook, I wonder if we are slowly starting to lose the capacity to distinguish the differences. 

    Google+, and to a lesser extent Facebook, do offer tools to help us sort and categorize these relationships into buckets or groups, but for the few people that seem to bother to attempt this kind of stratification of potentially thousands of contacts, the effort almost seems overwhelming. So, eventually everyone ends up in the same bucket, something that we continue to erroneously call 'friends'.

    Will there be, eventually, a kind of kickback effect, i.e., will we start seeing more people actively looking to reduce the number of their connections and even the time they spend cultivating and maintaining these ever-growing, (and demanding) networks?

    So far the answer to that seems like no, but if more people come to conclude that all the time, effort, and energy spent online doesn't actually add to your capacity to form and maintain additional meaningful relationships, then perhaps we will one day arrive at a place where one's Klout score begins to diminish with each 'friend' added over 150. 

    If that were to happen, then maybe 150 would become the new 10,000.


    The more you Tweet, the more I'll know you're about to quit

    Check out the findings from a very cool study out of the University of Rochester, (hey, that's where I live), designed to assess whether or not researchers could accurately predict whether or not a given individual in New York City would come down with the flu based on analyses of geo-location tagged tweets.Adam Sadilek, University of Rochester

    Essentially, the answer was yes, that when applying a sophisticated machine-learning algorithm to over 4 million tweets, from over 600,000 users over a one-month period, the researchers were able to predict when healthy people were about to fall ill - and then tweet about it - with about 90 per cent accuracy out to eight days in the future.

    From the New Scientist piece summarizing the study findings: 

    If you've been walking around a public place lately, you've come in contact with a lot of people. Some of those people may have been sick. And if you've been hanging around enough of them as they cough and sneeze, then you might be about to get sick too.

    That may sound obvious, but Adam Sadilek at the University of Rochester in New York and colleagues have applied the idea to a pile of Twitter data from people in New York City, and found that they can predict when an individual person will come down with the flu up to eight days before they show symptoms.

    Makes perfect sense right?

    If you happen to go to enough places where other sick people have been, the chances increase that you'll get sick as well. And in the social media age, with our insatiable appetite to share the mundane and pedestrian developments in our lives with the entire universe, 'OMG, I feel so terrible today. I just want to crawl back under the covers' as you check-in on Foursquare, smart machines can mine that data, compare it to actions of the next batch of (for the moment), healthy people, and offer really informed predictions about the likelihood of who will fall ill next. Thanks for speading your disgusting germs all over town by the way.

    Taking the premise and approach from the UofR (that is a well-known shortener for the University of Rochester up here), to additional and logical ends, then it certainly seems possible, and probable, that soon we'll have smart machines that will be able to examine the social network signals to predict all kinds of likely actions and behaviors.

    It used to be a dead giveaway in offices when a colleague had a job interview somewhere else - he or she would suddenly show up to work dressed impeccably - new suit, new shoes, hair just right, etc. That signal, (while still solid), morphed to the digital age in the form of the LinkedIn profile update. Hmm. Why did Joe just update his profile and add a picture after all these years? What's he up to?

    But the showing up in a new suit at work, or even the LinkedIn update are behaviors four, five, or six steps removed from whatever initial signals someone might take who is thinking of a career move. That new suit had to come from somewhere? Did Joe check in at the local Jos. A Bank in the last two weeks?

    That LinkedIn profile update? Was that preceded by joining a few new groups, or connecting to a few new people? Did some Facebook pictures from the last company picnic, taken after perhaps a few too many PBRs were consumed, suddenly disappear?

    Truth is, whether used for predicting who next will get the flu, or who might be giving their 2 weeks notice on Monday - increasingly the clues are out there - in a string of Tweets, check-ins, status updates, and the like. 

    As we continue to live our lives online, and on display, the signals we send as to what we really have in mind, and our devious little plans will become more and more discoverable.

    Eventually, we'll know even more about each other. Not just what we have been doing, but what we are about to do next.

    Happy Monday everyone!


    The secret of not wishing to be anywhere else

    Whether it's during a long meeting at work, standing on the sidelines of a U-7 soccer match in the cold rain when you know you have about 4,120 other things to do, or making small talk in a big room at an event or trade show, most of us at least once in a while, battle with the sometimes intense desire to be somewhere else, or to be doing something else.

    Part of this, I think, stems from a kind of achievement at all costs, stay one step ahead of the next guy, keep Tweeting and Tumbr'ing and Instgramming, while simultaneously talking, texting, and making sure your SEO and SEM and mobile optimization strategies are all in place and whirring. There's always something else to do, something else that could be done, something that the next guy is doing that maybe threatens or angers or makes you envious. Whatever. Work, building a business, angling for some better opportunities, trying to raise your profile to get on an internet list or get comped to an event - it can be a pretty exhausting grind.ATL

    Of course there is lots to do, maybe more to do than ever before. Certainly the explosion in platforms and applications that require care and feeding are one reason, and I suppose the degradation (for many folks), in the employee-employer contract or said more plainly, the notion that the next day at any job might be your last, as the spectre of one bad quarter or a decision from a large company to jump in to your market conspiring to make any job in any company seem more temporary and fragile than in recent memory.

    So the natural, and I think for the most part correct, response to all this uncertainty, (and also, paradoxically, opportunity), is for professionals to be much more on the hustle, even those with so-called 'real jobs'. There is a lot of chasing going on no doubt, and while the rewards can be really nice for the ones that do it well, and work at the the hardest, certainly all this chasing and hustling and posturing and angling comes with some downside.

    First, the nagging feeling that no matter how much one works, there is someone else out there doing just a little bit more. And that's annoying. Second, it is really, really, easy to forget to say 'No' sometimes, and to remember that less is usually more, (and more interesting). And last, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling no matter where you are and what you're doing, that you've made the wrong, or at least not the best, most bang for your time, SEO-optimized decision and that somewhere else, something fantastic is going on and you're missing it.

    The truth is there probably is something better going on. And you are missing it. And there, wherever there is, is one of your peers/friends/competitors thinking the exact same thing. 

    Have a Great Weekend!