HR Vendors Failing at Social Media

Five days (3 business days) until HR Tech kicks off.  You’re mailing it in at this point, right?

For a group that makes their money convincing everyone that social media is fixing everything from recruiting to employee communications, they sure aren’t taking their own medicine.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve been indexing ALL OF THE BUZZ associated to the HR Tech show since late August.  The technology infrastructure we put in place allows me to look at all of the tweets, retweets, status updates, blog posts, forums, news outlets, websites, etc., etc., etc. (think everything accessible – like millions of sites – on the internet).  For this project, I’m focusing on anything related to HRTech and then drilling down into demographics, content, sentiment of the post (positive or negative), and several other key factors. It takes a little market knowledge and creativity to do anything useful with it, but we had some of that lying around, so why not, right?

My goal today was to share a factoid from the data we have so far.  Something compelling.  But, as I have been diving in, I realized I had something more than a factoid.  My initial observation was astonishing to me.

The overall volume of activity has been on the rise since around 9/23, but as we drilled down I expected to see vendors driving this volume increase, either directly or indirectly (indirect example would be thought leaders posting and publishing related to HR Tech and with mention of a vendor).  I was wrong.

When it comes to leveraging the social web – using HRTech as an example, the vendors in our space… the shouters of “everything is going social”… the folks we look to for innovation… they get a big FAIL

There are only 3 vendors making it on the radar – and we’re talking about some fairly low volume to get onto the screen.  Those vendors are:  1. PeopleFluent, 2. myjstn.com, and 3. TalentAnalytics

PeopleFluent and myjstn.com have a comparable overall volume.  PeopleFluent looks to be running more integrated campaigns leveraging blogs, video, and the HR Tech channel.  TalentAnalytics volume is less than half of either of the other two.

Why is this such a big deal?  And THIS IS A  VERY BIG DEAL….

First, lets start with my assumption going in:  I expected HCM vendors of all sorts to be leveraging the social web to build buzz leading into the show.  Why was this a fair assumption?

Marketing Fact:  HR professionals in the US are numbered at 904,900 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).  Even the largest and most comprehensive permission based marketing list in HCM has only a 2.5% maximum exposure.  Expand that to include all media and even optimistic estimates of  total available market reach would put you under 30%.

Marketing Fact:  Leading Business and Social Networks are used HEAVILY by HR – ranging from 35% to 85% (HRxAnalysts 2010 research report).

Marketing Fact:  Smartphone usage is upwards of 70% by HR (HRxAnalysts 2010 research report)

HR Tech is THE PREMIER Technology event in the Human Capital space.  200+ vendors will be exhibiting at this years show.  Think about that vendor number in our niche market, and in the context of the economy.  That’s impressive.   The vendors are vying for the attention of a reported 2,000 attendees.  This is not a commerce event – no one is purchasing any technology on that show floor – and a small percentage are actually shopping.  As a vendor you need to differentiate and you need buzz going in.  Your goal is to capture the attention of those that are shopping, and entice some of those that weren’t that they should be looking at your product, and/or listening to you, so that they don’t fall behind.  Vendor lead counts coming out of the show will range from the tens to the hundreds, with the two largest variables (my opinion here) being brand recognition before the show and booth size.

Let’s summarize.

You’re an HR Tech Vendor.  You have very little measurable reach into your market via traditional industry media.  You have a marketing opportunity to reach close to 90% of your market via social media.  The biggest show of the year is upon us.  It’s fair to say that technology adopters are in attendance, and they are users of social media at a higher rate than average.

What about culturally?  Does social media use fit within an HCM vendor’s Marketing and Sales culture?  It sure as heck better!

So much of what we are talking about in the Human Capital market is in, or around, integrating social media.  HCM Vendor’s PR opportunities are in social media:   The bloggers, press, thought leaders, early adopters, etc. are all leveraging social media – and at minimum keeping an eye on it.  Bill Kutik’s current Hottest Trends blog talking about leveraging social media to deliver work management solutions,and of course the ongoing onslaught of partnerships to leverage Social-this-or-that, or new features to make your HR team more social in one way or another… A growing number of the products/vendors that we see at the show exist expressly for social media… And, if that isn’t enough for you, I can tell you that the slide decks of nearly EVERY VENDOR I’ve talked to for the last year consistently show me the stats of where people spend their time in social media, especially in the HR market – and how it’s imperative to meet them there.  Given all of this, I expected to see the leading HCM vendors competing for the mind-share somewhere – on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn  —  whether directly or via thought leaders, partners, etc.

I’m not saying that just because they don’t practice what they preach, that vendors can’t deliver products that help HR in their use of social media internally or externally.  I also can’t see their strategy from this point forward – if they are starting tomorrow, I wouldn’t know about it.  Although, I would say it’s a little late.  I’m also not yet analyzing messaging or content.  I’m just saying that these three vendors are the only ones looking at HRTech next week and leveraging the opportunity at hand via social media (again, as of today).  Culturally that gives them a leg up in my book.  They are out there calling attention to mobility and social – and they are walking their talk when it comes to how they run their business.

How much of a lead do they have going into HR Tech right now?  Let’s say all of the vendors were running a marathon that started at noon with HR Tech being the finish line.  It’s now 2pm and these three are the only ones that showed up for the starting gun.

This is representative of a bigger problem than just squandering the opportunity  to maximize at a trade show.  There is a surprising lack of strategy, budget, and resource dedicated to Social Media by most HCM Vendors.  This represents a huge opportunity for those that move first.

 

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