Top 25 Trendspotters in HR

Published Wednesday August 22, 2012 at Noon EDT.
Top 25 Trendspotters in HR

Top 25 Trendspotters in HR

Published August 22, 2012

HRExaminer Top 25 Trend Spotters

Top 25 Trendspotters in HR-How Ideas Move

So far, our various looks at influence have had a hard time getting beyond attributes of popularity. Numbers of friends, connections and followers are nothing more than proxies for popularity.

Influence is much more than that. Influence comes in a broad range of shapes and forms. Sometimes, the only way to see influence is by watching the things or people that are being influenced. A while back, Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt started encouraging people to fly their Freak Flag. Freak Flags have been around since the 60’s since Jimi Hendrix talked about not caring what people thought in If Six Was Nine: “I’m gonna wave my freak flag high,” and David Crosby sang about his long hair, “I feel like letting my freak flag fly.”

Now you see employment lawyers and Inc. Magazine talking about flying freak flags at work. And facebook and twitter are flooded with Instagram photos of freak flag tattoos during HR Conferences. I doubt most of the folks sporting the tattoos and flags at a SHRM conference have any thought of Hendrix or Crosby. Yet, the freak flag as a symbol of self expression continues to influence people 50 years later.

With this month’s Trendsetters list, we wanted to track how ideas move through social media, how that movement changes over time, and who are the people pushing the ideas out into the flow.

For several months now, we’ve been using HRMarketer’s SocialEars to examine and measure our questions about influence. SocialEars is the first of a new breed of influence assessment engines that focuses on precise industries. SocialEars follows the blogging, articles, tweets, facebook activity and other social media actions of over 5,000 people who are active contributors to the online HR industry.

What We Measured

What we measured in this Top 25 Trendspotters list is who is broadcasting the ideas and how they spread through social media. We looked at the links that were tweeted, liked, or recommended more than 10 times over a one-week period and figured out who initiated those links.

We called them trendspotters because we couldn’t find clearer language. There’s something to the notion that someone whose initial stories (tweets, facebook likes, blog posts or recommendations) generate many shares and reshares. The people who made this list made it on the basis of the fact that they were the first to thing our spiders saw about a specific story.

As usual, the article is accompanied by a spreadsheet that will help you understand the results a little better. It shows results for the Top 100 Trendspotters and includes a link to their Twitter profiles.

How To Read the Spreadsheet

The data in the spreadsheet represents an analysis of all of the tweets, articles, blog posts, facebook likes and other social media activities in the HR sector for the six month period between 1 March and 31 July 2012.

The spreadsheet then shows the timing of how those stories spread out over time from the point they were discovered by the trendspotters.

Obviously, the first column is a list of the names of the people in rank order.

The second column tells you the number of stories they saw first.

The third column tells you how many times those stories were linked/liked/tweeted during the first week it was published.

The fourth column is the number of links/likes/tweets on the first day the article/post first appeared and was linked to in social media by one of the people listed. Day 1 is usually the date the post was first published and the autotweets picked it up and pushed it out.

The list ranking is based on the overall number of conversations a person started in the six month window.

Do Autotweets Matter?

As we reviewed the list, it became clear that the majority of the people in the Top 25 were people who retweeted each other automatically. It’s possible and useful to automatically tweet all of the blog posts from a given individual using simple tools.

You might wonder why we didn’t throw those results out.

The truth is that we are in the earliest days of influence measurement and we can’t tell a damned thing until we’ve really explored the data. Does it matter that most of the Top 25 trendspotters spotted each other? Should it?

It’s not clear whether the lesson is that bulk retweeting is pointless, valuable or a noisy disturbance.

We did learn that Fist Full of Talent has a great promotion engine that has each of its writers tweeting out the links to all FOT posts, often multiple times over the first week. As a result, the Day 1 rankings are dominated by FOT writers.

It’s not clear that this actually increases the visibility of a given story. One school thinks that massive automated tweeting (MAT) results in massive ignoring on the parts of readers who want actual human input. The other school is that MAT somehow improves the SEO of a given article.

The jury is out.

What Happens After Day 1?

After it became clear that most of the Day 1 tweets/links were MAT, we digested the data in another way. We ignored the Day 1 results and started analyzing who found and linked to stories on the second day of the cycle. The list changed substantially.

Day 2 Rank Overall Rank Name
1 3 Daniel Newman
2 5 Shawn Murphy
3 17 Kate Nasser
4 2 Meghan M. Biro
5 9 Michael Q Todd
6 23 Phil Gerbyshak
7 20 Tanveer Naseer
8 18 Jason Lauritsen
9 15 Lisa Petrilli
10 21 Susan Mazza
11 26 Mike Henry
12 7 Sean Charles
13 28 Mark Schaefer
14 29 Adam Justice
15 34 Miles Austin
16 36 Jane Perdue
17 11 Anthony Iannarino
18 38 Seth McColley, SPHR
19 6 Mark Babbitt
20 25 Michael Brenner
21 32 Dana Theus
22 41 William Powell
23 52 Wally Bock
24 30 Neal Schaffer
25 35 Rami Kantari

Although it isn’t perfect (because it assumes that anything discovered on day 1 was automated), the second list turns up some interesting people who you might not think of as trendspotters.

These folks are culling information by hand a day after it is published. They find enough of it to start a significant number of conversations. Often these shares are accompanied by a comment about what they thought of the post, adding their own message or personal endorsement.

This Day 2 Top 25 List may be the more valuable key to getting a story into circulation. Lesser known though leaders are more likely to be willing to engage you in a conversation. They seem to have audiences that trust their work.

Why it Matters

The most interesting thing about the process of examining these questions is the other questions that get spawned. There is little doubt that the Top 25 Trendspotters have a big impact on the market and the flow of information.

The folks at SocialEars are in the thick of this sort of conversation. The second layer analysis is exactly how one spots market opportunities that others have missed. The SocialEars tool is particularly useful in that regard.

Each story is a small news cycle. It can last a day (as some of the MAT articles do) or it can last several weeks. Whatever the duration, a single idea gets transmitted to a wider audience. If you are trying to get your story told (because you have an earth shattering notion, want to change the world or wish to reach further into the market), knowing which people are at the beginning of a news chain is important.

Knowing how ideas move through the HR echosphere is getting easier because of work like this. We’re hoping to refine and improve the analysis over time.

HRExaminer Top 25 Trend Spotters

– John Sumser
Founder and Editor in Chief,