Corporate Eye

HR 2.0 Superstars! A Handy Guide–Plus Some Thoughts about “Following”

I wasn’t looking when iCIMS published this guide to 21 HR Leaders in Web 2.0 You Must Follow back in October, but now that I’ve come across it (it was in my feed reader) I’m fascinated.  First, because it provides a great list of noteworthy influencers; second, because it supplies their Twitter IDs all in one convenient post; and third, because it made me realize that the concept of “following” has become absolutely integrated into the way “we” think today.

The we here is not only the one in five Americans who tweet (according to a recent Pew Report) but also the many international tweeters, plus those who participate in some form of social networking (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) but don’t necessarily tweet themselves.  That’s a lot of folks who are directly involved in the social communications “revolution,” and there are many more who are indirectly exposed via the now almost ubiquitous engagement between Twitter and the mainstream media.

Every newspaper, magazine, entertainer or commentator has a Twitter presence and mentions it at every opportunity.  Ditto every film, television show, musical group, sports club, charity—ad infinitum.  So the Twitterverse really does affect (and reflect) popular culture well beyond its enrolled number of users.

And it’s not just a pop cult phenomenon.  I confess that among my followees are CERN (which tweets frequent updates on the status of the Large Hadron Collider) and FOXQi Physics, along with The Van Cliburn Foundation (which tweets concert information and news about past competitors) and the fabulous LibraryThing.  Just a tiny reflection of the way Twitter has penetrated the whole human enterprise.

So we have taken up “following” as a way of relating to parts of the world that interest us.  And now the space once occupied by “experts” is the province of “thought leaders”–because after all, you can’t follow if there aren’t leaders!  A study by the Harvard Business School a few months ago found that 90% of tweets come from 10% of users.  Really.

There are two potential takeaways from this post.  One is practical:  Use the iCIMS guide to find and follow people you think have interesting ideas in the HR 2.0 topic space.  (I created a separate Twitter account, put them ALL in, made a separate column for the feed in my TwitterDeck, and will let you know what I learn from the experiment.)

The other is something to think about.  Many of the iCIMS superstars are sources I refer to in this column, and I think the list does a good job of identifying the thought leaders in this area.  But it is 100% American.  As corporate careers and recruiting become increasingly globalized, it’s going to be important to share ideas effectively across borders and beyond language barriers.  I’m not sure how that will happen . . .

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.