A SocialEars Trend Analysis Snapshot. What's trending in HR?

Using HRmarketer.com's recently launched SocialEars software -- social media analytics software for the human resources marketplace -- I spent an hour or so analyzing the data we've accumulated the last 6 months and found some interesting trending data in the human resource industry.

I randomly selected the following three human resource topics from the SocialEars data (there are hundreds of similar examples):
The three graphs on this blog post highlight some of my findings.

Without getting into the details of the SocialEars algorithm, we calculate for each "topic" a weight score from 1-100 with 1 meaning the topic is trending very low (little to no references being made online to the respective topic at a given time) and 100 meaning the topic is trending high (a lot of media coverage and online discussions taking place on the respective topic).

The data that SocialEars is analyzing comes from the Tweets, Blogs, news stories and "shared" content in the HR and B2B marketplace. In the last six months we've analyzed over 1 Million sources of online content.

The question of what's trending in HR is very relative. It's like asking what's trending on the Internet? The field of human resources is wide and deep. Recruiting is a lot different from wellness which is a lot different from training & development. Sure there is some overlap amongst all HR functions but lets face it - people in recruiting circles never really mingle with the folks in benefits. They read different trades and blogs, attend different events, join different LinkedIn groups, listen to different analysts, and "follow" very different people on Twitter.

So if you try and answer the question "what's trending in HR" by analyzing the entire universe of HR news stories, blog, Tweets, etc. you get, well, nothing very relevant.

Or, do you?

If you compete in the HR Technology space - particularly if you offer a cloud-based SaaS talent management software product - what was trending the last several weeks was the SAP acquisition of SuccessFactors. Huge news. But not that important to wellness vendors (employee flu shots, voluntary benefits and benefits communication programs are on their mind).

So to generate meaningful trending data you want to focus on topics important to you and analyze the media outlets, blogs, tweets and social activity from people within your universe/network.

SocialEars can do that - but for my analysis I randomly selected the three topics listed above and included the entire universe of HR and B2B content.

What I found was interesting. Check it out:

Travel Expenses
Our trending chart shows this topic was trending fairly flat for six months, meaning the amount of content and discussions taking place online about the topic was consistent. As you can see from it's weighting score the topic is discussed a fair amount (score of about 70) but has little volatility. However, an unusual spike occurred for a few weeks. So I dug deep and discovered that during those two weeks a few public figures were accused of abusing travel expenses. And this led to significant media coverage which found its way into HR circles and resulted in quite a few tweets, blog posts and articles on the subject (and SocialEars gave me the list of the people who participated in these discussions).

So what?

Well, if your HR business relates to travel and expense management, you want to know this information so you can join the conversation, write and comment on blogs, reach out to journalists covering the story, produce a white paper on the subject, etc.

Another interesting example was the topic of Smoking Cessation.

Again, the topic was trending relatively flat (slightly rising) for about six months and then it spiked significantly for a few weeks before tapering down. Further research pointed to a major announcement in the press about a study that pointed to the effectiveness of smoking cessation programs. This resulted in significant discussions on the topic in the HR space. Again, if you are in the business of providing smoking cessation programs to employers you want to not only read all the news about the research but equally important you want to know who is participating in the online "social" conversations about the topic. And then join in, update your media distribution lists, etc.

The final topic I researched was Voluntary Benefits. This trend line is interesting and expected. Every year as we approach open enrollment season in HR, the topic of voluntary benefits peaks and then tapers off as we reach year-end.

As it did this year. Except this year the topic was REALLY popular in the media and online discussions in the HR community - as you can see with its weight score of 100. With rising health care costs and the challenging economy one would predict that, since voluntary benefits represent an inexpensive way for employers to invest in employee benefits. And the SocialEars data validates this assumption. Again, if you are in the business of voluntary benefits you want to know all about this trend and what "influencers" are talking about the topic online.

So yes, the question of what's trending is a relative term. But that does not mean it is not important. As the examples above show, what's trending is very important when it relates to you or your business. But it is not enough anymore to just know what's trending. If you are in marketing, PR and/or media relations, the question of what's trending and who is participating in and driving those trends is of paramount importance in today's social landscape.

And this is where HRmarketer.com's recently launched SocialEars software can help. It monitors in real-time the Tweets, Blogs, news stories and "shared" content in the HR and B2B marketplace, allowing you to sift easily through the “noise” of social media to find the right people driving the conversations on topics important to you. It's real-time, it's easy to use and it's completely HR focused. Learn more here.

What else can you do with this kind of information and data? Here's how some of our SocialEars beta users have benefited from SocialEars:

It's marketing and PR software you can't live without in today's social world. We know, which is why we built it, and why we use it.

And you can too. If you are interested in a demo or some trending research on topics relevant to your business give us a call.

Post by HRmarketer CEO Mark Willaman. Join Mark on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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