It’s a List. Get Over It.


More list envy on the social timelines last week. The Huffington Post Social 100 created much the same (though less localised and more amplified) shitstorm as the People Management HR Power Tweeters list a few months ago.

These types of lists will continue to be produced – after all it’s the way we create and consume so much content these days – and they do provide a service. To some they’re indispensable.

I’ve written at length before on why they don’t annoy me the way they do others, and the rights and wrongs of producing them, so without wishing to repeat myself, here are the main points…

  • Lists are usually prepared for people who know no better. They point the curious and those seeking more information and insight in the right direction, leaving room to investigate.
  • Lists are shared and critiqued by those who think they know a lot better. These are either included in the list (full of humility) or not included (full of indignation at those included who shouldn’t be there, and those not included who should).
  • A list will only be a snapshot, a guide to encourage the curious to investigate further. Anybody not included on the list will undoubtedly come across the radar of the curious as they begin to interact with those who are included on the list.
  • A list will be subjective; it will be in the eyes of the compiler. They will have their own rationale, it is their opinion. Someone has either asked them, or commissioned them, to compile it, or they have done so as part of their own content.
  • There is a difference between HR/Recruitment practitioners who tweet and people who tweet (and share) content about HR/Recruitment. The former do not necessarily do the latter and the latter are not necessarily practitioners of the former.

Yes, I’m on some of these lists. It’s my job to be on these lists. As content and social media manager for a large digital recruitment brand, that is part of a top 5 global digital recruitment brand, I’d be doing something wrong if I’m not on the radar of people who compile these types of lists around my sector.

I’ve often observed that influence score deniers are usually people whose score doesn’t reflect how influential they think they really are, and so the list deniers are usually those who think their influence and reach should be recognised without them having to do much to bring it to wider attention.

It’s a list. Get over it.

If You’re Not on The List…

I’ve written before of my love of lists, mainly from the perspective of my own life and experience – favourite albums, movies, books, goals, holidays etc. I am also an avid reader of end of year media lists in magazines, papers and online that chart the best moments and cultural artefacts of the previous 12 months. I’m often dubious as to how they rank them but always glad of the chance to check out something that I may have missed.

My journey on Twitter was kick started by a list. It was one from Louise Triance in March 2009 entitled something like ‘Recruiters who Tweet’. Up until that point I was a bit of a lurker, looking for conversations around politics, football and music, but this list helped me see that there was a work angle to what social networking could offer.

I didn’t know if these were the best recruitment tweeters, or the most insightful, but I followed them all and started following who they spoke to and began to build the network that I have today.

So, where’s this going?

Well, earlier this week the re-launched People Management magazine published their list of the Top 20 ‘HR Power Tweeters’ – in their words the ‘HR Twitteratti who are must-follows if you want to stay at the forefront of HR news and views on the microblogging site’.

There are many such lists published all the time and I usually treat them as a bit of fun. Journals and blogs are always highlighting the people they think their readers should follow. Twitter positively encourages anyone with an account to create lists and share them – apparently I appear in 309 Twitter lists, Lord knows who and why but I do. The People Management list seems to have caused offence though. There was much angst on my timeline last week.

I don’t think it was just thrown together as they have taken the trouble to offer their readers a description of each person’s engagement style. But once you commit to producing a list such as this, and rank it, then critique becomes more about who isn’t included then about who is.

As part of the day job I sometimes have to produce similar content – in this case bringing to the attention of digital newbies some of the people that they should follow – and a bit like the list I first followed nearly 4 years ago the focus should always be to highlight a spread of opinions and tweeting styles, enough to raise the curiosity of a new tweeter and encourage them to investigate further.

This, after all, is what we really want. Right?

To get more people using social networking platforms for business – linking, following, engaging, sharing, commenting and generally participating in the conversation that never sleeps.

In my view there were some notable exceptions on this PM list – but then there will be on any list. My ConnectingHR tweeters list runs to well over 100 and it would be difficult to recommend just 20 from it. But the PM piece does include the line…

“Is there anyone we have left out who you think deserves a place in PM’s top tweeters power list, then let us know who and why on Twitter @peoplemgt”

…so whilst it may be a bit of a disclaimer they also give you the opportunity to interact with them over it.

Here are my thoughts on the niggles that this particular article seems to have created…

Should HR sharer par excellence Michael Carty (also the ‘nicest person on Twitter’ I should add) have been on the list?

Yes, of course he should be on any list of top HR sharers but then let’s get real and accept that he works for a business that has a rival online publication to the one that drew up the list. Anyone who follows the people on PM’s list will inevitably also be following Michael within a few hours…he is pivotal to the daily engagement of almost everyone else on the list. Continue reading “If You’re Not on The List…”