Today over at RecruitingDaily.com, which, as my day job, has replaced this site as the repository for most of my bylined content, Derek Zeller wrote a post about the proliferation of recruiting and HR “influencer” lists. As I edited and formatted the post (which was pretty good, by the way), I started thinking about my position on lists, since this seems to be a hot topic for some reason, despite this being the oldest form of content this side of cuneiform.
And of course, being lazy content, this seemed like an ideal topic for me to weigh in on, since, well, I’m a lazy content marketer, mostly. If I had ambition, I’d probably not be a professional blogger, let’s be honest. Although it’s a hell of a lot more work than it probably looks like – much to my chagrin, because I’d rather be rocking my XBox than the back end of WordPress. But hey, it’s a living – which is why I personally kind of like lists, since for some reason, the people who write checks sure seem to.
While stylistically and philosophically, I’d like to shit on these lists as link baiting BS, I’ve got to be at least a little bit equivocal, since I’ve actually benefitted from being included on many of these “most influential” or “top people you should follow in HR or recruiting.”
That’s because I run a content business, and having cache with my client’s customers is a fairly salient selling point – and it’s an affirmation that I’m doing something right when when these same clients include me on their own lists.
Hey, they’re vendors after all, and it’s not like they can put up anything actually interesting – and as someone who’s done plenty of these as an in-house marketer, I can tell you that these things are a great way to build up goodwill (and inevitably, a ton of traffic, too – one of those content standbys which perennially performs, no matter how many of them there are out there).
Here’s how it works.
The Christmas Card of Content Marketing
Going after a customer? Put ’em on your list. Want a blogger to write you up? Put a glowing description around the shitty RTs and RSS jobs feeds that make up the Twitter account you in fact should only follow if you want to be bored out of your mind. Contract renewal time? Hey, who needs product when you can play to the ego of the person with the purchasing power?
That’s why I think the conversation of whether or not someone deserves to be on a list is stupid, because somehow, you seem to be misinterpreting the concept of “influence” for “someone we want something from.” This isn’t always a good thing. For whatever reason, I always make these lists – more on this in a second.
But the reason I’m included, I’ve discovered, is that for some erroneous reason, the content producer responsible for my inclusion thinks that I’m going to use my network to satisfy my own ego. This is a mistake: I’m not actually as egotistical as I seem.
OK, that’s a lie, I’m a total diva. Which means, bitch, you gonna slap my face next to your logo, you better pay me to do so, because I don’t do free endorsements, which is what these lists implicitly seem to suggest, given the fact that they’re almost always put out by brands instead of individual bloggers (the latter mostly knowing better than to test those waters). I’m OK with silently stoking my ego, but if you think I’m going to RT it or share it with my network, you’ve got another thing coming.
Obviously, there are exceptions – I found my inclusion as a SHRM Trendsetter in HR Magazine and as a Top Influencer to Follow by a drug testing company amusingly ironic, and worth a share. But these are obvious outliers of awesome in what’s otherwise a pretty mundane echo chamber.
But the fact is that I just spent a lot of time beating a dead horse, or at least biting a gift horse in the mouth, depending on your preferred aphorism to say I’m going to feel different when I stop showing up on all those damn things – they make me look good to my boss and people like you who don’t know any better than to take these at face value.
Don’t believe the hype. Unless, of course, it’s about me.