LinkedIn and Using the Digital Interest Graph to Attract Talent

One of the interesting counterpoints of the digital revolution is the way in which thriving “real life” social networks resist the formalising structures offered online. After all, if your RLSN delivers all you need, then why grapple with the vagaries, issues and complexities for small, unmetered gain, right?

I have long held a theory that this was the reason for slow social network adoption amongst different demographics. Take, for example, students. Yes, they are all over Facebook, but they are surprisingly absent from more formal networks like LinkedIn. Same with artists who live and breathe on the power of word of mouth.

But RLSNs lack one important feature that’s inherent in the digital realm: directed serendipity.

In a RLSN, your conversations start in a distinctly one-to-one format. They originate from you and are directed according to your interest and knowledge – that is, you will directly ask the person who you think knows the answer (or where to find it). After all, a RLSN is based on the social graph – the network of relations that connect us all.

But social networks allow answers to find questions and the people behind them. They are driven by what we call the interest graph and powered by human curiosity. As Wikipedia explains:

The Interest Graph refers to the specific and varied interests that form one’s personal identity, and the attempt to connect people based on those interests. On an individual scale, this means the different things one person is interested in—be itjogging, celebrity gossip, or animal rights—that make up their likes and dislikes, and what has more meaning to them over someone else. On a broader scale, it’s the way those interests form unspoken relationships with others who share them, and expand to create a network of like-minded people.

Once a RLSN realises the value in and potential of the interest graph, a gradual migration begins to take place.

We can see this happening now, with a recent report indicating that LinkedIn usage amongst graduates is rising dramatically – in fact, students and graduates are the fastest growing demographic on LinkedIn. More that 35% of students plan to use LinkedIn as a primary source for their job search – a 700% increase since 2010.

The question you’ve got to ask yourself is this – how are you engaging young people via LinkedIn? How are you planning your over-the-horizon sourcing? And how are you priming and directing the interest graph of those you want to attract to your business? Sound challenging? It’s the future of work.

Sometimes Open Source Software Just Wins

When I first came across open source software I was amazed. I could hardly believe that good quality software could be made available for a minimal cost. Sure there could be issues with support and maintenance from time to time, but the flexibility and pure value for money equation was hard to beat.

My first real experience with open source was about 15 years ago implementing Norwegian CMS developers ezPublish. Not only was their content management system way ahead of most of the commercially available providers, it was built in a way that was collaborative and had a strong developer community around their various solutions. And – almost intuitively – they had built in community / social networking features which many other CMS platforms still struggle to deliver.

As I put the business case together, I remember laughing as I entered a software license line item. I knew it would generate questions – and sure enough I was called in to speak with the CFO. “Did I make a mistake in my costing?” I assured him that the figures were correct – but that there were trade-offs that came with open source.

Two years down the track, the software was still powering our corporate website and had transformed the way that we thought about the web, our customers and the distribution of our corporate information.

These days it seems that open source is a corporate norm – with 98% of enterprises using open source software in some form. As the folks from Source Ninja point out, it’s not just about lower acquisition costs – flexibility and abundance of code are vital elements when it comes to choosing open source software for business.

But the question for you is … does this ring true? Are you using open source in your business? Why?


Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

5 Cinco Five Fem Vijf Viis Viisi Cinq Fünf Öt Fimm Lima Cinque Pieci Penki Piatka Cinci Pet BeçThis week I’m all about creativity – what makes it, what bakes it and what fakes it. Sometimes we need to follow our hearts and sometimes we need to think through problems and issues in more complex ways.

  1. Remember Richard Florida’s Rise of the Creative Class? At its heart was a concept that I loved – and deeply wished to believe in. But it always seemed a little hollow for me. Frank Bures explains why in the Fall of the Creative Class.
  2. “The best art is neither socialist nor indifferent to the needs of others”. Ben Irvine writes persuasively about the social entrepreneurial role of artists – and may just change the way you think of innovation and the role of creativity.
  3. I’ve been loving Saul Kaplan’s The Business Model Innovation Factory – but as he points out in this post – the hardest question any leader can ask is one we must all ask ourselves.
  4. To be creative means to be fearless – or rather it means taking your fear and channelling it in a different way – away from paralysis and into action. Amber Naslund shares her thoughts On Fearlessness.
  5. One of the most compelling transformations that are driving our behaviours and sense of identity is the notion of trust. Just think about who we trust and why. Venessa Miemis asks how do we trust each other without proof?

Does This Get Me Made, Laid or Paid?

We tend to overcomplicate things in the marketing world. We dig down into motivation, intention and desire. We walk the murky depths of persuasion and influence and spend inordinate amounts of time trolling data points in the hope of extracting a grain of insight.

But, if we are honest, most of us are wondering about the WIIFM model – what’s in it for me.

As consumers we THINK we have a handle on the exchange – a purchase for a good or service. But branding takes us beyond this – tapping into deeper needs and urges. After all, a consumer purchase is never just a transaction – and branding done well will ensure that we weigh up three key points – does this get me:

  • Made
  • Laid
  • Paid
The Social Retailer: what ‘social’ means for the future of commerce

Tara Hunt, founder of retailing startup buyosphere– explains this in more detail in this great presentation. Looking at the future of retail in a social context, she cuts through the social and marketing noise to concentrate on the most important thing. Not product. Not even design. But customers. And that’s why marketing really is sexy.

View more presentations from Tara Hunt

When a Kid’s Perspective Challenges Your Own

As President of local youth non-profit organisation, Vibewire, I am constantly amazed at the energy, insight and passion of the young people that I come in contact with. But often, these opinions, ideas and insights are ignored by others – by the mainstream media, employers, opinion leaders and by those with “more experience”.

And yet, some of the most stimulating conversations that I have ever had have come from being inclusive – from asking for the input of others. So what happens when young people are given the skills and opportunity to lead discussion? How can it challenge us all? How can it open our minds?

These are some of the questions that are at the core of Vibewire’s regular monthly fastBREAK event, co-hosted at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. We give five people, five minutes to share their story and their passion.

It strikes me that these stories and these types of event are ever more important in a society where public opinion and media can be bought at market rates and exercised in the favour of those with the means beyond the dreams of the many. How do we take the “long view” when the bombardment of media narrows our vision to the next week, next budget or next election?

Maybe we need a new perspective – a fresh pair of eyes on the road to our shared futures. Take a few minutes to watch this great TEDx talk by 11 year old, Birke Baehr. His topic is the “food system” – but his vision is long and his message clear – “We can either pay the farmer or we can pay the hospital”. Apply the same thinking to the other industries that we see toppling – and think about the type of world you want to live in. How do you participate? You can start by joining us at the next fastBREAK. It might just amaze you.

Influence: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

Most of us are in love with the idea of influence. We love the idea that we are influencers or influential within our peer groups, we seek out the favour and attention of others who influence us, and we attempt to measure track and trace influence across different cultural, societal, economic and demographic groups. And yet this thing – influence – remains elusive.

Some time back, Malcolm Gladwell came up with an easy to understand model of influence. It seemed to resonate with many of us who are deeply immersed in the web and have seen, first hand, the apparent randomness of online sentiment and human digital behaviour. His book, The Tipping Point took its lead from Stanley Milgram’s principle that we are all only separated by six degrees – suggesting that within a network, the “hub” or “connector” plays a vital role in the transmission of information across that network.

I have always viewed this theory with scepticism – preferring the strength of weak ties model popularised by Duncan Watts. It’s a shame in a way, as the Gladwell model – the Tipping Point – is easily articulated and understood, while Watts’ approach is more complicated, random and difficult to apply in the real world. Yet, even a casual glance at the social media landscape will show you just how difficult it can be to boil “influence” down to a single factor or variable. Klout has tried it as have PeerIndex and Kred – and there are dozens more on the horizon offering different versions, metrics and tools that attempt to measure the chaos of our behaviours and patterns of indifference.

Ultimately, when it comes to influence, I keep returning to one important point –> it’s not about influence, it’s about trust. And until we, as business leaders, as marketers and as publishers of information and content, understand this, we will continue to dance around the real issue.

And what IS the real issue? Just take a look at this infographic from CrowdTap and read between the lines. Hint: it’s not about your brand.


Thriving in Uncertainty – A Workshop with Viv McWaters

In the corporate world we talk a lot – a lot – about innovation and creativity. There are conversations and plans to “unleash” creativity within our businesses and to empower our employees. Sometimes we even start using language from the world of startups – suggesting that some innovation projects may need to “fail fast”.

But one of the great challenges with innovation is that it’s often inwardly focused. We rarely draw in people and ideas from beyond our line of business let alone others in our industry. And when economic conditions change – and they do with regularity – our efforts become increasingly myopic and doomed to failure.

In these conditions we need the skill and capacity to navigate the changing business conditions. We need superior communications, creativity and agility. And we need to ensure that work remains fulfilling – that there is a shared sense of purpose.

A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to attend a workshop with Viv McWaters. She blends business thinking with facilitation and theatrical improvisation – to address many of these challenges. And on July 12 and 13, Viv is running her Thriving in Uncertainty workshops in Melbourne. In her words:

Participant outcomes include improved communication, better collaboration, increased agility, harnessing others’ strengths and building motivated and enthusiastic teams.

But, to be honest, her workshops go well beyond this. They teach you a deep sense of capability that stays with you well after the event. If you can, take a small team along – you’ll be glad you did.

Survey: Australian Social Business – 2H 2012

Late last year I surveyed Australian businesses about their social business “readiness”. I wanted to determine whether the same business patterns and modes of adoption shown in the US had surfaced in local businesses:

The results indicated that marketers are increasingly comfortable with digital channels and are shifting their budgets accordingly. This shift appears to be happening regardless of business size – and surprisingly – regardless of a firm connection between investment and business value.

While the first survey focused on marketing and external communications – essentially the customer side of the business process – this survey also covers other areas such as collaboration, employee engagement and so on.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey – and be sure to provide your email address to receive a free copy of the final report.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

Quite a mixed bag of topics this week … with posts on innovation, SEO and Edgerank, collaboration and crowdsourcing. But you’ll find each of these articles useful in creating customer value and generating strategic advantage for your business or clients. Well worth a quick scan or even a deep dive.

  1. One of the great ruptures that is coming or already upon most businesses is the great demographic shift that will see Gen Y succeed the incumbent Baby Boomer generation. Rather than controlling Gen Y, Sarah Miller Caldicott suggests we need to embrace their need for progress in order to drive innovation.
  2. One of the challenges for marketers is keeping up with the changes that are constantly being made to Google’s search engine or to Facebook’s Edgerank algorithms. And Google’s recent changes (code named Panda and Penguin) will have a huge impact on those who have focused on quantity of inbound links rather than quality content. Craig Wilson explains the impact on link building for SEO.
  3. And speaking of Facebook Edgerank, Ken Mueller suggests that we should keep creating and sharing great content, understand what and when we are posting on Facebook and work to really understand what Edgerank is about. He says its a common sense approach to Edgerank.
  4. Anyone who starts a business blog post quoting Jay-Z is alright by me. And Trevor Young’s article on collaboration makes it even better.
  5. Can companies bring crowds to their causes? The folks over at Realized Worth say yes – and remind us all that Facebook is a tool not a strategy.

A Cup of Chaos #76: Philips Male Grooming

Ever wondered what happens when your strategy is “digital first”? It’s pretty simple – you don’t even contemplate good ideas that tell the story of your customers’ participation in your brand story. Check out this video to see what happens when your strategy starts with understanding your customers’ behaviours.