I should probably congratulate the readership of this blog. For CedarCrestone’s annual technology survey, we created one of the largest populations of viable, usable submissions out of any social media outlet that the survey used. (Note that this post was written a few years ago and never published. I was never going to publish this, but I decided to use this to promote Lexy’s upcoming webinar on the 2012 HR Technology Survey on November 6.) Viable and usable meaning that the submissions were from actual companies rather than consultants or other bloggers not in a position to answer the survey, and also sufficiently complete that the response had enough content to be included in the results tabulation.
I think that is pretty cool, and I think there are very good reasons this happens to be a good outlet. I ran a reader survey a couple years ago trying to figure out who you all are. To my surprise, there are relatively few bloggers and consultants among you. Instead, I found that the great majority of my readers are actual HR practitioners, and that over half of those practitioners were at a director level or above in their organizations. I will have to guess that most of my readers found me through doing a web search and linking here, rather than coming in through another blog. I say that since I don’t participate in the blogosphere, and therefore I don’t get links from other blogs that would give me much larger amounts of inbound traffic – bloggers don’t link to other blogs that don’t li back, and I’ve long had a policy that I don’t link to every HR blog in the world. ((I once had a list of blogs based on an automatic calculation of the sites I referenced the most, not sure if that is still active.))
There are 2 thoughts that I would like to point out. The first is a blogger issue and the second a reader issue. Regarding the regarding my own habits, I’ve already pointed out that I don’t really participate in the blogosphere at all any more. Overall, is means that my google page rank decreases as bloggers reading and commenting on each others posts makes up a huge amount of the active participation out there. I’ve never really cared what other bloggers think about what I write, this blog is not written for them. But part of the social media equation is that participation counts. If my early idea that you can calculate and quantify talent partly through observing page hits, authorship, and comment counts are ever viable, then this blog would probably rank much lower than another blog that gets fewer page hits but many more comments. There is a great value to the interactions because it multiplies the viral effect and reach of the content. If HR social media is ever to be successful, content owners have to be active participants in the environment, and I have been sorely unsuccessful on this front.
However, even if my readers are director level and up HR practitioners, and I value that population more highly than others, my readership is not a commenting, interactive group as measured by the blog. It has always killed me that I don’t have a large number of active commenters, but VPs and Directors may not be that type of group. As noted above, I don’t get many incoming links from other bloggers. What surprises me, is the number of inbound links that I never publish – those are like from corporate intranets that sit behind someone’s firewall. To be honest, I love those links and the comments associated with the link, it tells m that even though you are not commenting here, you are telling your internal HR departments about the value here. So it turns out that you guys are actually highly interactive, it’s just not visible on the public facing portion of the site. The fact that you guys got more viable and usable submissions from a single blog post about the CedarCrestone survey means a lot to me. Even though I never hear from you guys, I know you are out there, reading, asking your internal HR departments to read, and actively participating in your own way.
When it comes to HR social media, what it all comes down to is how well you collaborate with each other, and participation is key. Without it, there is no knowledge sharing and creation. While I’ve failed at collaborating with my fellow bloggers, it seems that my readership has generally succeeded in creating discussion and action outside of this forum. We have alternatively been excited and then skeptical about social media in HR, sometimes both at the same time. I actually wonder what the model for information sharing will be. If systematicHR is any indication, having thriving populations that are visibly active and commenting on the blog might be harder to accomplish. Content publishers (other bloggers in your corporate environment) will be active, but trying to reveal the hidden community that is actively reading is much more difficult.
In the past, I have advocated using the tagging system to quantify expertise by counting the comments and links. This certainly quantifies the participation from other content publishers, but does not discuss the overall value that content may bring. Over time in your internal environment, you’ll begging to have content publishers that become favorites for large populations, and being able to see hit counts in addition to comment traffic becomes critical. The problem with this is that you often need to go to two different sources. My first source is an aggregator where I can see all comments and inbound links from another site/blog. This shows me the active participation. But then I have to go to a hit counter to see the total reader traffic. There are actually websites that show both activity meters, but I have found these to be a bit inaccurate so far. The point being that metrics are problematic – like so many other reports, there are multiple sources that may need to be combined to get the measurements we really want.