You must read this post on influence

This post is a bit of an experiment related to on-line influence and on-line impact. My view is that when we talk about influence, we really mean impact. Influence became a bit of a trendy word to use, multiplied by the likes of Klout and PeerIndex. Suddenly everyone was arguing about influence, relevance and whether it actually meant anything in the real world, or was just an elaborate marketing ploy.
Some bloggers have tried to intelectualise the whole influence conversation through their blog posts. As recruiters though what are we really interested in, influence or something else? These are my thoughts on what the principle measures should be for recruiters:

> How many people look at our jobs
> How many people apply for our jobs
> How many people get hired

> The conversion ratio of each

There are lots of other matrix I’m going to look at around influence. what content did people look at before they decided to apply. Is one piece of content better at progressing people to the next stage of the process than another. All of this is useful, but a recruiter is not judged on fans, followers, network numbers, likes, size of talent community or engagement, they get judged by hires. All of the other stuff might be useful, could even be considered to influential to recruitment outcomes, but in isolation none of them count for anything without hires.
On line activity is designed to create a reaction and an action. A click on a link, a share, a like etc, something happens because of the content. The worst thing is inaction, when nothing happens. That tells me that I’m either being ignored, hitting the wrong audience or lacking credibility as a source. It can also mean that I haven’t banked up enough credits in the bank of reciprocity. You know the kind of thing. you share my content or help me when I need it, I’m much more willing to help you. When that relationship becomes one-sided then I’m going to stop reacting to your content. I’m going to ignore you and do nothing. Not open your links or share them. Perhaps we should be measuring how many people are ignoring us rather than how many people are reacting to get a real picture of our influence, or rather the lack of it.

I have documented the story of the Barclay’s Social Hub in the past. What is impressive about the data that comes out of this story is that whilst traffic and page views increased considerably, applications dropped significantly. On the face of it this is not great, but the end result was a massive improvement in the conversion ratio of applications to hires because people were choosing to opt out because the added content enabled informed decision-making and opting out. It is fair to say that the reduction in applications shows that the content influenced the decision not to apply. As the conversion rates increased and the hiring targets were smashed, in this case it should be considered a positive influence even though no physical action took place. This brings in to question the whole measurement of influence because the inaction was the desired outcome, and the viewers were mostly “influenced” to do nothing.
I titled this post in the way I did because I wanted to test how easy it is to write a title or a heading that gets opened. Click throughs or open rates are easy to achieve with creative headlines or tweets, but what is important is what happens once the link is open. If nothing happens, is it really influence? If everyone looks at my job but nobody applies, should I be congratulating myself on my high traffic and great Klout score, or be concerned about the fact that no one is actually going to get hired. If the  headline of this post “tricked” you in to opening it, that’s great for my Klout score, but is it really influence?
One of the things that prompted this post was a conversation with a UK blogger who sends out tweets (automated) about her own blog post saying things like “Really interesting post” or “this is really helpful, great post.” When you click on these links it takes you to their blog and their content. I challenged her on this, asking if she had really said that about her own content. The response I got was that this approach was great for click-throughs and traffic. When I landed on the link, I felt cheated. my opinion of the blogger went down considerably. I added a click to the traffic numbers but was that really worth while. Is this influence, impact or nothing? This kind of link prompts an action, clicking on a link, but not a positive outcome because nothing else happens. There is an argument however that there was an opportunity for an outcome because I looked and made a choice not to act. Is this any different to what happened with Barclay’s? An automated job feed on Twitter gets a high click-through rate, but doesn’t really influence my thinking. It does however present the opportunity to consider applying. Should driving traffic be considered as important in social recruiting as “influence”, or is all this talk effluence?

My thoughts on this is that the most important thing is outcomes, and that is going to be different according to need. If you need to hire now, then traffic and applications are going to be key, if you are taking a longer term approach and looking to build pipeline then engagement, page views and other factors are going to be more important. To me, actions and outcomes are far more important than influence, and it is this that should be the main focus.

What do you think?


3 comments on “You must read this post on influence

  1. Bill – your post had `Impact` – I’m commenting. 🙂

    I like your thinking, totally. My problem (well, one of many) with the Klouts of the world is that they do not measure `Influence`. Influence is immeasurable, because the act of influence is measured by a mental action, which I’ve yet to see Klout or anyone else master.
    As you quite rightly say, we measure clicks to applications, etc – or we can track back approaches through questioning – but to suggest that influence was the factor for application, is twisting wordplay. Influence plays little part in applying for a job, other than through word of mouth and reputation as an employer of choice. For a recruiter – the use of `influence` is a different area completely in my opinion. (maybe we need to combine our influence thoughts on a truLondon track!)

    I like the emphasis on this post being around quality of content leading to action. The reason for that, is that individual influence is about the quality of what we produce, not the regularity of what we produce. In recruitment speak – the guy who takes 10 jobs a month and fills 5, is better than the guy who takes 30, and places 5.

  2. Hi Bill

    I like the approach you are taking relating to what we should be thinking about measuring – and the reality check for what recruiters and hiring managers really care about – a Body on Board.

    I think the Influence debate (does it really yet qualify as a debate?) ranging from the measurement sites to the industry guru lists really is ‘interesting’ – but there is no real measurement of influence – at best they measure reach. My latest Klout score dropped 4 points because I have not really been online much the last 2 weeks – but I would challenge those who might say that my influence or knowledge is any weaker or less impactful because of that.

    It would be great to track the influence of a recruiter on the candidate making a decision to accept or decline a role – or on the hiring manager making the decision to make the offer. All of us who have lived in recruitment know that is real influence – making sure the right candidate takes the right job. So, is the only measurement of recruitment influence the placement rate?

    The Barclays case study proves what those of us who were head hunters have always known – a short list of quality candidates who can all fulfil the client needs is far more valuable than a long list of ‘possibles’. Quality not Quantity – another end product of true influence.

    Looking forward to seeing how this conversation rolls on.



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