August 24, 2011 (Bodega Bay, CA)
It’s easy to forget that the HRExaminer investigation of online influence began over two years ago. Before there was traackr, klout, or other tools that measure influence, we were trying to figure it out. The idea wasn’t very original. Influence was at the root of Google’s page rank algorithm.
In the absence of a central government (where power and authority are the dominant modes of getting things done), influence is how the world goes round. Before there was a consumer internet, media flowed down very constrained channels. Who held influence was obvious. The difference between celebrity and trend setter was narrow. What was good for Hollywood (or Detroit, or NY or DC) was good for the world.
In the past generation, hierarchical broadcast communications have declined in importance. In their place are a mosaic of micro-celebrities. Fame is now a niche based phenomenon. The world is full of people who are unknown in their home towns but famous on one of the thousands of rubber chicken circuits.
Like patients with an unusual disease, we are left to fend for ourselves in a sea of quacks and know nothings. The hungry professional trying to find the state of the art has to sort betweeen competing and conflicting voices to get to the bottom of their question. What was once decided by the limitations of broadcast publishing is now a matter of individual importance.
The Top Influencer Project (which includes algorithm generated lists and the top 100 Influencers) makes few claims about the value of a given person’s insight or wisdom. In fact, all the lists do is point out who is easy to discover. This (admittedly very simple) view of influence boils down to”if you’re looking for the people who are most visible (in search engines, social media and online generally) in this specific arena, these are the people you are most likely to encounter’.
Our Top 25 Recruiting Influencers are the voices you are most likely to hear online. In a search for Recruiting expertise, their voices are the loudest and most focused. The list is built using pure automation (see the methodology below).
For sure, there are other important voices. However, they are less likely to be discovered in search engines or through online word of mouth referrals. They belong to an earlier generation of thought leader who used publishing and trade shows to build a personal reputation. As those old fashioned approaches fragment, their influence wanes.
The measurement of influence is a critical concept for people in Recruiting and HR. Within an organiztion, knowing who is and isn’t influential is a critical part of getting things done. Being able to weild influence personnaly is an essential skill for any staff employee. And, HR and Recruiting are both staff jobs.
Beyond the organization’s walls, the measurement of influence is a key to building high fuinctioning communications and referral systems. Communicating through influencers is a way of amplifying a message. Any sourcing strategy that does not try to maximize the use of influential network members is only half a strategy.
Like any neighborhood, the fact that one kid is more influential than another tells you nothing about relative moral fiber or whether they merit the influence that they have. In general, influence, merit amnd integrity have only loose correlations. It takes a disciplined learner to see the difference between flash and insight.
Today, we’re witnessing the ealiest and most primitive uses of information technology that will shape the future. Our lists (and most search enginees) are vlunerable to techniques that game the results. We live in an age where the easiest answer to discover is the one with the biggest marketing budget.
That poses a problem for anyone who has to make personnel decisions. That a person is easy to discover does not tell you whether they’d make a good employee. It may even be the case that there’s a somewhat inverse relationship between discoverability and value.
One of the surprises of our info-dense millieu is that more data means more subtle decisions. Influence is a real factor in any search (for information or people). We all have to evaluate the relationship between influence and value in each hiring decision we make or influence.
Our lists are compiled with the least amount of human intervention possible. Determinations of influence are made through automated measures. In this edition, my name was pulled out of the list.
The method involves a dramatic (very large) spidering of the web for content related to Recruiting. All of the material that includes prioritized key words (see the image on this page for the keywords) are collected in a single database. It is then compared and contrasted with the data in the social graph.
In order to really quantify the dimensions of online influence, we measure three key variables:
- Reach: A measure of the audience size (number of eyeballs) for each individual. Traffic.
- Relevance: The degree to which content associated with the individual matches a cloud of keywords prepared for the analysis
- Resonance: The number of mentions, inbound links and participation found for each individual.