You’re not on social media? YOU don’t matter…

social-media-matters1Ok that’s a bit harsh. Of course you still matter – to your loved ones and anyone else that may be dependent on you. I’ve no wish to kick a big hole in your self esteem! No, what I’m referring to is your position as a professional in the workplace or as a consumer and your propensity to be found, hired or otherwise interacted with.

If you are in any way interested in technology you may be familiar with the increasing trend towards using social data to find someone in the case of recruitment, or more interestingly, to profile someone or predict their behaviour/potential based on their social footprint – twitter, facebook, LinkedIn (not social really) foursquare etc etc. The fact that this technology is still relatively unexploited is dividing opinion amongst lovers and haters of social alike.

You see when talking to people about this trend, the standard objections are usually something like:

“there are not enough people on social media to ensure you reach the widest talent pool”


“the people on social media are not a representative enough group to be valid”

Well I have news for you. They are wrong. Taking the first point, when it comes to finding people there are now enough professionals engaging socially (even if you exclude LinkedIn) for there to be more than enough choice. Will a truly talented individual be overlooked because they don’t engage socially? Yes, of course. But for the majority of the professions in organisations, this doesn’t matter because there is enough talent out there that does.

Furthermore, and especially for HR, social engagement is actually a pre requisite for success for future HR professionals. Without it, you are not going to understand or be exposed to the wider, big data and predictive analytics trend that will become essential to organisational success in the next 5 years.

If we are talking more widely in terms of identifying trends/patterns or behaviour then I should remind you of the hedgefund I blogged about in 2011 that used twitter sentiment as the basis for their investments. That was two years ago and at the time I blogged about it, a lot of people were skeptical. Well, the hedge fund closed soon after the experiment – but not because it didn’t work. No. they shut their doors because it DID work – and instead have spent the last 3 years building a solution to bring this capability to the mass market. 3 years ago, the sentiment patterns gleaned from tweets correlated ahead of the stock market to an accuracy of 87%. 3 years ago! Go look at the growth in users of social, including twitter, in the last 3 years and what does that tell you?

Having just returned from the HRTech Conference and Expo in Las Vegas, where I was privileged to attend as one of the blog squad, I can tell you that this stuff has still yet to make a real impact. But in amongst the expected conversation about the Cloud, the consumer driving work related tech and the range of new apps that are adding cool UX layers to your existing ATS (Awful Talent System! < blog coming on that one) there are signs that things are a changing.

The phrase “you have to be in it to win it” has never been more relevant. Especially for HR.


  1. Hi,

    This makes an assumption that at a given time in a given context (and there are huge range of possible contexts) that I want to matter, or that I am willing to make the sacrifices and compromises required to matter and win in one context while in the same breath “mattering” in any number of others where not only do I not want to win, I object even to playing at all.

    Do I win crytpic blogment of the year award for that?




    1. lol Hi Tony! I think you do indeed. You certainly win the award for the highest number of mentions of ‘matter’ on one sentence! And you are right of course – this all assumes that you want to matter and of course you may not want to play which is fair enough. In fact, its quite scary how we are almost forced to play – where will the exploitation of our digital footprint end I wonder? How much do they know about you and me already?!

      One to ponder over a beer methinks.. been a while 😉


  2. An excellent plan. I am London most days passing through Waterloo. I can rant on about badly designed SM platforms that require me to want to matter in all contexts, all the time when I’d rather pick and choose which and when at my leisure 🙂


  3. Gareth. Great blog. The problem is that having recycled my way around quite a few lumbering giants there is a complete agnostic view on the importance of being social amongst HR people. The 20th century reliance on relationships (their client and their business) has rewarded many an individual highly and there remains no pull to this more enlightened space. This is clearly to the detriment of their own development but that doesn’t seem to motivate their sense of change.


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