Mar 15, 2012

Influence on Social Media - Myth or Reality

So this week SHRM India brought out a list of top 20 Indian HR influencers on social media (you can download the pdf from their website) and by doing so triggered the whole debate about whether influence on social media in a space like HR is relevant or not.

The list has some people who are setting the HR agenda on a national level, like HCL CEO Vineet Nayar, E&Y's Global HR Advisory head NS Rajan, Mphasis Chief HR Officer Elango and Wipro Chief Learning Officer Abhijit Bhaduri. But it also has a lot of middle managers from the vendor side and some people in their first year of work too! (P.S. I am number 3 in the list :))

That - some would say - is the drawback and beauty of social media. If you have conversations you build influence.

But let's examine the word influence. According to an online dictionary : Influence is the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others

By that definition I would say that most of the people in the list (with the exceptions of some) are not influencers. And that is primarily because the vast majority of HR professionals are not on social media. So these are influencers without anybody to influence :)

According to the SHRM report they chose to compile this list because 
we also decided to identify who all are creating or contributing to these HR conversations and thereby shaping the perceptions of the larger business community about the use of social media by the HR industry. If you are a contributor to social HR, then you can use this report to connect with these key conversationalists (i.e. the influencers) in the HR industry and build conversations with them on HR topics of their specialization/ liking. 

The other aspect of the list is that it uses only Twitter as a platform to gauge social media influence. They have justified only using Twitter by saying

given the fast paced nature of the medium, Twitter was selected as the platform of choice. Also as compared to other social media, Twitter is more real-time.
In addition, Twitter users are bloggers, vloggers, community members and active online participants in Internet culture

But in India that mostly isn't the case. Only a handful of these 20 people have a blog and participate in other online communities. And the metrics that got tracked leading to the "Influencer score" is number of retweets, number of tweets favorited, etc the focus is not really in being a "maven" (using terms from The Tipping Point) but being a "connector" - or as the YouTube Trends Manager said it - these are the "tastemakers"

What is however missing in such lists is "context" - are these tweets about HR issues? I have to admit most of my tweets are about social media and internet mostly.

What makes me happy is that this report will hopefully start a conversation about social media and HR - by the way, check out People Matters March issue on social media and HR too.