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    Entries in Social Media (43)


    The next evolution of corporate social media management

    Just might be something like Beatrix - a new 'advanced virtual social media assistant' that can assist organizations, (or individual 'thought leaders' as well I suppose) in their quests to become 'social media rockstars.'

    How does it work?

    Unlike more well-known social media management and scheduling tools like Buffer or HootSuite, both of which allow an organization to schedule and plan social media activity, Beatrix not only helps wth the scheduling of social media updates, it actually helps find and select the actual content as well.

    Let's say a local pizza shop wants to buff up its social media presence. The organization can then give Beatrix a few keywords to focus on - like 'pizza', 'wine', or 'sandwiches', and the Beatrix algorithm finds interesting content from around the web and sets it up to be shared on the company's social accounts.

    Here is what Beatrix says in her own words...

    The algorithm creates instant content plans for you. Stuck for things to say on social media? Beatrix will plan out your week. No time to post? Beatrix will post for you at times you specify. Beatrix does everything a social media intern does.

    Just like a real assistant, Beatrix emails you a new content plan every week. If you like it, Beatrix will post that content throughout the next week. Or tell Beatrix what's wrong and she'll create a new plan. Beatrix gets smarter the more you use her. And she never misses a deadline

    A 'smart' social media assistant that takes your input, seeks, finds, schedules, and shares interesting content related to your business, and keeps you abreast of the ongoing content plan? An automated service that not only decides for you when to post to social networks, but what to post in the first place?

    That sounds pretty awesome to me.  Of course maybe it is because I spend ridiculous amounts of time looking for good content to share, (and blog about).

    Sure, someone out there is likely to respond with a comment like - 'That's not what effective social media is all about. Companies need to be authentic or personable or real, or some such.'

    Maybe.  Or maybe most of us just really want our fans and followers to think we are on top of our industry, and are sharing relevant and interesting content about what they are interested in. 

    And if that is the case, then why wouldn't an algortihm be just as effective at that task as a social media intern who is counting the days before he or she can head back to school.

    Have a great week!


    Knowing when it's time to stop asking for advice

    We all probably read or saw some of the potential downsides of relying too heavily on the so-called wisdom of the crowds during the recent bombings in Boston, (and the intense few days immediately following). While the combination of smartphones, the web, and social media certainly did seem to help in spreading news and information, keeping people safe during the manhunt for the suspects, and even in helping to identify them in the first place, there were also some unfortunate negatives. Bad information, no matter its source, was spread far and wide, innocent or uninvolved people were put under suspicion, and for many, the sheer cacophony of updates, videos, tweets and the like created so much noise that the true signal was often incredibly difficult to find.

    Frankly, at times it seemed like no one, especially the established experts, really knew anything, but everyone had something to say, me included.



    This is just how things work now, any important news or events, particularly ones that play out live on TV and on Twitter are going to generate a massive volumes of good information - along with almost equal parts of confusion, error, and utter nonsense. Perhaps the best advice on dealing with all this is to just tune out for a while and not get caught up trying to play amateur detective or journalist ourselves. 

    The real reason I was thinking about this wasn't the Boston bombings and the aftermath though, (but they do make for pretty good illustration I think), it was from reading a piece recently authored by Philip Palaleev, a consultant to financial services companies, titled 'How I advise advisors to run an advisory business from my pulpit'. Get past the really odd title, and you get this - some of the best advice I've seen about the problems of asking for too much advice:

    I once read about an experiment where the researches had the tonsils of 1,000 healthy kids in New York examined by doctors. In about 50% of the cases, the doctors recommended removing of the tonsils. The researchers then took the “healthy” kids to another set of doctors. Again, 50% of the kids received the tonsillitis diagnosis, even though they had already been declared healthy by another doctor (notice the rate is not even dropping). Researchers then took the remaining 250 healthy kids and took them to a third set of doctors. Lo and behold — again 50% of them received the tonsillitis recommendation.

    You can see where this is going — go to enough doctors and you will eventually get your tonsils removed. Same is true with consultants — talk to enough consultants and you will eventually get your strategy revised, your compensation plans “fine-tuned” and your processes “optimized.”

    If you spend enough time asking for opinions, ideas, and advice you'll eventually get so much of it you may forget what you were after in the first place, and even what you believe to be right or true or at least likely.

    There is no shortage of people ready and willing to tell us what we should do. The thick is, I think, to know when to stop asking, stop listening, and just do what we think is right.

    More advice is not always or necessarily better. But it is more noise, that we know for certain.


    Off Topic: This is how you sound when you talk about your 'Personal Brand'

    It is, perhaps, the most inane concept of the last 10 years.

    Source - Dinosaur Comics

    As an aside, you should really check out Dinosaur Comics, it has one of the most interesting concepts for a comic that you'll ever see. The artwork - meaning the characters, panels, flow, etc. is exactly the same every day, only the dialogue changes. It sounds crazy but it works, and as evidenced by the comic above, often times it really hits the mark.

    Have a great weekend everyone. And quit it with the 'personal brand' stuff.


    You're on an interview, no I mean RIGHT NOW you're on an interview

    In the epic Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons,  legendary player (and failed executive) Isiah Thomas had the most compelling and profound observation about the sport. It was that the 'secret' of winning basketball wasn't about basketball at all - it was about the hundreds of other things like character, commitment, sacrifice, teamwork,  etc. that had to be present for a team to actually realize their true potential and become champions.  If you love basketball like I do, that concept sticks with you.

    Much like Thomas' view that basketball wasn't really about basketball, could it be that the future of job seeking and more specifically interviewing, won't actually be about interviewing at all? Before you ask 'What the heck is he talking about?' check out what is happening, or at least starting to happen, in the high stakes recruiting world for software developers.

    The San Francisco start-up Gild has created an algorithm that surfaces, evaluates, and rates software developers on the developers' public projects and code samples it finds on the web. The catch, that unlike every 'interview' or assessment typically conducted in the recruiting process, Gild is scoring developers behind the scenes. Programmers are not even aware it is happening, and don't have to give their permission.

    How does this work?

    Gild assembles profiles of individual developers from their contributions and activities in open-source forums and public websites. It can use formal APIs or simply “scrape” information from popular developer websites and communities. It takes all the data it can find and applies an algorithm to assign two scores, one for work quality, and one for influence in the software community.

    And don't think for a moment that this kind of algorithmic-based rating will be necessarily limited to software developers. Here's more on the ambitions and potential Gild sees in this kind of approach to dynamic, always-on 'scoring' of candidates, from a recent piece in MIT's Technology Review:

    For now, Gild is evaluating only software developers, whose work can often be freely found in repositories for open-source software, coder Q&A forums, and other online developer hangouts. But CEO Sheeroy Desai says that Gild hopes to bring its “talent acquisition technology” beyond the realm of software programmers, especially as more work products start to appear online.

    This kind of real-time, background assessment, while being perhaps invasive or even creepy for candidates, could certainly benefit HR and Recruiters, who can check if resume details, letters of recommendation, and even 'real' interview observations seem to jibe with the Gild score. And maybe they can even use something like the Gild score to surface potential candidates that their normal assessment process would exclude - say the lack of a college degree or the requisite '5 years of progressive experience.'

    Either way it seems like the approach Gild is taking is just the first step in what is to come - a world where every action, comment, blog post, tweet, etc. becomes an input into a algorithm and feeds a dynamic professional/personal profile that increasingly will be utilized as a tool into the hiring process. I'm actually ok with this, by the way.

    And since we are soon approaching a world where we are ALWAYS on a job interivew, I feel I better start publicly answering some of the most common interview questions. I'll start with an easy one:

    Interviewer: So tell me, what is your biggest weakness?

    Me: I simply work too hard, care too much, and demand perfection out of myself and my team.

    That ought to pass me on to the second-round I think.


    Google Reader: The shelf-life of formerly good advice

    I've been having a instructive and fun time this week out at Ultimate Software's annual user conference called Ultimate Connections. It is always great to learn more about what one of the major technology providers in HR space is doing, to hear from and meet some real customers and practitioners, and even attempt to share some of my own ideas with the attendees.

    Yesterday I had that chance, along with the great John Sumser from HRexaminer and Ed Frauenheim from Workforce.com (and perhaps more famously of the Frauenheim Disclosure), in a conference session titled 'How to Stay Current on HR Trends'. The session was meant to be a kind or survey of tools, sources of information, time management approaches, and overall recommendations for the busy HR pro on how he or she can try to keep up and remain informed about the industry when faced with the simultaneous crush of mountains of content combined with a 'day job' that gets more time-crunched by the week.

    In the session, which was yesterday at 1:45PM Pacific Time, both John and I sung the praises of feed readers, specifically Google Reader, as a fantastic tool for the busy HR pro to try and sort, filter, scan, and consume professional content. I even tool it a step further, calling out smartphone apps like Flipboard and Zite, (my personal favorite), that help curate news and information and package it up attractively for on-the-go reading. Both of these apps are much more valuable and relevant when they have a Google Reader integration to provide a rich source of content that these apps find ways to make much user-friendly and provide a great interface.

    At 1:45 PM I was advocating for the HR pros in the room to give Google Reader a chance. At 5PM when I got back to my room, turned on the laptop, and IMMEDIATELY fired up Google Reader and BOOM - this message smacks me in the chops -

    Clicking 'Learn more' took me to a short blog post on the the Google support site that basically said Reader is being shut down on July 1, and had a link to another Google post that cited a decline in Reader usage and the company's desire to focus more energy on fewer products as the drivers behind the decision to kill off Reader.

    Reader has been around a really long time by Web standards, since 2005 or so, but (and as we saw in our session at the conference where very few attendees said they used Reader), never really caught on with the mainstream web users. And with the incredible growth of Facebook and Twitter, (and more and more LinkedIn), as sources of news and information, setting up and maintaining a deep, diverse, and relevant set of Reader subscriptions probably seemed like to big a chore for most users, and really boring for others.

    Either way, Google Reader is going away, and probably at least a few of the apps and services that had come to rely on a user's Reader subscriptions for the bulk of their content. Sure, there are other feed reading tools around - and perhaps even some new innovation will hit the space that Google is leaving, but make no mistake even in decline, Google Reader was the 500 pound gorilla in the space.

    I feel bad about the impending loss of my favorite tool on the web.

    I feel even worse that about 3 hours prior to the announcement, I advocated in the most strident way possible for a room full of hard working HR pros to get their Google Reader set up.

    That was good advice at the time I gave it.

    Now it's just formerly good advice.

    I hope the rest of the things I said in the session will stay relevant a little longer.

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