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    Entries in social networking (14)


    CHART OF THE DAY: Messaging Apps vs. Social Networks

    While you were busy growing your empire on Facebook these last few years, something interesting has been happening in the non-US parts of the world and in particular, among those crazy kids that won't get off of your lawn. 

    Global usage of the top 'messaging' apps, (like WhatsApp and WeChat) have caught up with global usage of the top social networking apps, (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Here's the chart, courtesy of Business Insider, then of course, some FREE comments from me after the data. 

    Some quick thoughts on what, if anything this trend might mean for for HR/Talent pros:

    1. Messaging, like regular old SMS texting, is always going to be the most effective way to get people's attention. If you can get into a candidate or prospect or employee's 'white list' of messaging buddies, then you can capture some valuable attention and even more valuable mindshare. Of course this is easier said than done, so for now most of us will just keep emailing....

    2. Communication preferences and habits, as evidenced in how some of these messaging apps dominate in certain countries and among certain age cohorts, vary quite a bit around the world. While the US has been slower to adopt messaging compared to say Asia, other parts of the world see messaging as their de facto communication medium. Some of this is probably due to the greater tendency in many non-US parts of the world for internet usage to be almost completely a mobile-device scenario. And for many of these users, Mobile = Internet = Messaging. Whatever the reason, any HR pro that has to operate globally has to be aware of how local audiences want to and expect to interact and communicate.

    3. Some of the elements that have fueled the growth of messaging apps are bleeding into workplace or enterprise apps as well. The best recent example would be Slack, a corporate communication platform that works on both smartphones and computers, and seems to be succeeding where other attempts to create corporate social networks, i.e. the "Facebook for the Enterprise", have struggled, by replacing e-mail as the main communications channel inside firms.  Organized around short, direct and group messages, organized into topics or projects, Slack seems to be catering to the same kinds of people who have adopted messaging apps overall. 

    Anyway, one last thought, take a look at what kinds of apps your kids are using these days too. Chances are they are using much more messaging and less 'social networking' than you think.

    Have a great day!


    On not being active on a social network

    I was having a real business (I swear) conversation with a colleague recently, when the subject turned to another person (Person X) with which both myself and my colleague are very well acquainted. I mentioned that I had not heard from Person X in quite some time, and I wondered why this person had not taken time to contact me (the context, of which the specifics don't really matter), was that in my view this person really should have reached out to me on some things and he/she had not for a long time. 

    My colleague said something along the lines of 'Person X is really active on Facebook. Just post something on their wall if you want to get in touch with him/her.'

    And I kind of cringed for two reasons I suppose. One, I don't really want to do 'business' on Facebook, and two, in truth I don't really want to do anything on Facebook. I have an account there sure, I am not a Luddite, but I don't check it all that often, I never post anything other than my blogs and the HR Happy Hour Shows that auto-post there, and for the most part I just ignore the site. I still am reasonably active on Twitter (mostly for professional reasons) and for personal/social kinds of things, I use Instagram.

    But that's just me. Most folks have their preferred ways of online social interaction, for both their business and for their personal reasons, and I don't suggest that anyone's approach is wrong or right or even that anyone should agree with me.  But to this situation with me and Person X, who is (it seems) conducting a lot of business via Facebook, it looks like unless one of us moves to change our preferred methods of interaction, we will keep missing each other for the most part. I guess that is just how it is.

    That's a long pre-amble to a shorter, more obvious point. We, or most of us surely, if we are actually busy with real work, family, friends, etc., simply can't be that active, present, and aware of all the things that are going on in our industries across the myriad of social platforms (and in-person events), all of the time. After some time of trying to keep aware and active of industry people and news and events and even opportunities on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, (and often using multiple personas or accounts), I think at least for me, that eventually you have to settle on the one or two that you either enjoy the most, or, get the most value from. For me, it is Twitter and Instagram. For others, like Person X, it seems to be Facebook.

    And that small difference, that seemingly insignificant divergence in preferences, (and yes, I know that I could just CALL this Person X, but who does that any more?), actually does become pretty significant over time.

    Back in the day, when you as a 12 year old kid moved away from your home town you basically lost all contact with your circle of friends and had to start all over from scratch in your new town and school. Even though you could have still stayed in touch with your old friends, you almost never did. It just was too burdensome to call or send letters or postcards when you could just walk outside and interact with your new friends instead.

    That is kind of how I look at my old friends/associates over on Facebook now in a way. Sure, I could go over there and see what is going on, but it's just easier to not do that, and stay where I have become more comfortable. So I am missing out, I guess. So be it. That is what not being present on a platform can do to you in 2015. 

    Person X, give me a call sometime.


    CHART OF THE DAY: What does it take for content to get noticed?

    Really interesting piece, (with accompanying chart that I will re-share below), on the GigaOM site on how social and online sharing is now truly the way readers (and potential customer and job candidates) discover content.

    The gist of the article was to point out that while they might like to think they are not in the same business as Buzzfeed, even more 'respected' publishers like the New York Times have to compete with the Buzzfeeds of the online world using modern metrics that describe success in online content creation - namely social shares (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.).

    Check out the chart below, (Email and RSS subscribers may need to click through), then some FREE commentary from me after the data:

    1. It is pretty obvious that for these big publishers, the bar for labeling a piece of content a 'social' success is really pretty high - at least 2K shares. Think about what you and your company might be sharing on social networks from your corporate blog or posting your open jobs on LinkedIn or Twitter. Two thousand shares of piece of content is a ton of shares, yet by the standards of the modern web, that barely starts to get you noticed. Less than 100 social shares leaves your content essentially 'unseen'.

    2. Unless, of course, it is 'seen' by the exact, right people. And that means most of us (me too, just look at the number of RTs of this post for example), have to really understand how to determine, classify, target, and attempt to engage a specific target market of interest in order to have success. There is almost no way any of us 'normals' are ever going to approach mass social virality like the masters of the modern web (Buzzfeed, HuffPo) can. If you post a job on Twitter and it is not RT'ed does it even exist?

    3. For the HR Tech spin on things, if you have employed a social sharing strategy for your jobs and employer brand building content, but you are not utilizing one of the several HR tech tools on the market that provide the capability to track, analyze, and help you determine actual results (clicks, shares, applicants, hires), for your jobs content, then you probably need to consider that investment in 2015. Since the easy and most common measure of success on the social web, absolute number of 'shares', is almost always going to leave you in the 'unnoticed' bucket, you need to find a way to 'prove' your social strategy is actually working. And the only way to do that is to better understand what happens to those lonely tweets after you send them out into the big, scary, social web.

    Happy Tuesday. Hope this post breaks out of the 'unnoticed' category.


    SURVEY: Depressingly, Email remains the most important technology at work

    One of my go-to places for news, data, and research on technology adoption, usage, and trends is the Pew Research Internet Project. Towards the end of 2014, the folks at Pew released a short research report titled Technology's Impact on Workers, a look at how and which kinds of technologies are effecting work and workforces. It is a pretty interesting and easily digestible report, but since I know you are really busy and might not have time to read the entire research report, I wanted to call out one data point, and then we can, together, pause, reflect, and lament for a moment.

    First the data point, take a look at the chart below that displays survey responses to the question of which technologies workers (separated into office workers and non-office workers), consider 'very important' to their jobs:

    Two things stand out from this data. First, and the obvious one (and still exceedingly depressing), is that email remains the most important type of technology cited by office workers for helping them perform their jobs. Despite its relative maturity (and that is putting it nicely, as far as technology goes, email at about 30 years old should have been brought out behind the barn and put out of its misery decades ago), email continues to hold its vise-like death grip on modern office work. I hope I live (or at least work) long enough to see email finally disrupted from this position, but so far alternate workplace communication and collaboration options have not been able to accomplish what (ironically), almost everyone desires - the end of being slaves to email all day.

    The other bit of data from the Pew survey comes from the bottom portion of the chart - the kinds of technologies that workers find not 'very important' to them in getting their jobs done. And in a result that will make the social networking aficionados cringe (and many CIOs who would prefer to block these kinds of things from corporate networks happy), social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook were cited as 'very important' by a measly 7 percent of office workers and 2 percent of non-office workers. Now that doesn't mean that these networks are 'not important', based on the way the question was phrased, but certainly the vast disparity in the stated importance of social networks in getting work done compared to email, (general) internet availability, and phones paints a pretty clear picture. For most folks, technology use at work is dominated by email, with web access and phones, (land and mobile), rounding out about 90% of the technology picture.

    I will close with a quote from the Pew report, and then sulk away with my head bowed, dreaming of a better future for our children...

    This high standing for email has not changed since Pew Research began studying technology in the workplace. Email’s vital role has withstood major changes in other communications channels such as social media, texting, and video chatting. Email has also survived potential threats like phishing, hacking and spam and dire warnings by commentators and workplace analysts about lost productivity and email overuse.


    Happy Wednesday.


    Numbers never lie - but they change how we behave

    Full disclaimer: I am not much of a fan/user of Facebook. I check it very infrequently, almost never see things like messages or friend requests in a timely manner, and really only keep my account active for HR Happy Hour Show page purposes. So take that for what it is worth and as preface to what I want to talk about today.

    I caught a really interesting piece on The Atlantic titled 'How Numbers on Facebook Change Behavior', a review of a study conducted by Ben Grosser that attempted to understand just how much that Facebook metrics like the number of people that 'liked' a piece of content or the number of friends that a Facebook user has goes on to influence user behavior on the site.

    I recommend reading the entire piece, particularly if you are a big Facebook user, but I can give you the short (and maybe kind of obvious) conclusion in one sentence: You (and most everyone else) are more likely to 'like' something on Facebook if lots of other people have 'liked' that same thing. 

    From the Atlantic piece:

    To keep its 1.3 billion users clicking and posting (and stalking), Facebook scatters numbers everywhere. While it collects many metrics that users never see, it tells users plenty of others, too. Facebook tells you the number of friends you have, the number of likes you receive, the number of messages you get, and even tracks the timestamp to show how recently an item entered the news feed.

    And these numbers, programmer and artist Ben Grosser argues, directly influence user behavior by being the root of Facebook addiction. In October 2012, he set out to find exactly what Facebook's metrics were doing to users after noticing how much he depended on them.

    He did this by creating a browser extension, that when activated, 'hides' the numbers from Facebook. Instead of seeing the little red number alerting you to the count of notifications you have, you are just informed that you have notifications. And you won't see the that '18 people like this' but rather that 'people like this', that kind of thing.

    Grosser then examined what happened and recorded the observations from some of the 5,000 or so people that installed the tested the 'numbers hiding' extension.

    And again, the findings were probably not terribly surprising. People tended to report (and demonstrate) that when visible the Facebook numbers fostered more competition, (more likes the better), manipulation (removing posts that did not have enough or any likes), and probably most importantly, homogenization, (liking posts that many of your friends had already liked).

    Why am I writing about this, as a self-declared non-user (essentially) of Facebook?

    Well because everyone else uses Facebook, so what happens there sort of matters in a big-picture sense and I find that important to keep in mind. But also, for what these kinds of findings might mean for the systems and tools that we use in the workplace as well.

    Wouldn't it make sense for savvy (and admittedly unscrupulous) organizational communicators to not just message their workforces, but to imbue in these messages a sense of importance and value by gaming the system with additional 'likes' or upvotes or 5-star ratings - you get the idea? The kind of activity that gets restaurant owners in trouble on Yelp for example.

    It really is not that much of a stretch, and I am sure this happens all the time, for companies to post on their blog or in their LinkedIn Group and then have a few dozen employees immediately 'like' the post, this setting off what they hope will be a snowball effect once other readers observe all of these 'likes.' And note, I am not talking about scammy 'like farms' or purchased Twitter followers or YouTube plays. I am talking about real people taking actions and reacting the actions of others.

    Is that really a bad thing or not, I suppose I am not sure.

    But we have always known, even in the age of Facebook that popular doesn't necessarily equal quality.

    I wonder though, even in the communications from our friends and colleagues, if we should also realize that popular doesn't always equal popular as well.

    Happy Tuesday.