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"Jane, You . . . "*

(March 06, 2006)  We really meant Heather but are trying to be on our very best behavior. We thought a solid quote from a 25 year old comedy show was a good way to express displeasure. Give an HR person bit of celebrity, the gift of fate, and some good fortune and what pours forth is bad information.

With nearly 3,000 inbound links to the main page of her blog (this plus this), Heather has become a prominent voice in things HR. Those links are blogrolls or pointers to her main page and do not include the many links to her often insightful posts. Although inbound links are not directly proportional to traffic, it's fair to say that her blog is successful.


There are several reasons:

  • She is a good writer with a knack for revealing personal detail.
  • She works for Microsoft as a recruiter for very desirable jobs.
  • She represents Microsoft.
  • She has been fortunate to have a great deal of publicity in the national press.
  • She speaks at a lot of conferences.
  • She was an early adopter and has fully mastered the medium.

As usual, a combination of luck, timing and talent is the underlying explanation for success. As with most people, Heather underestimates the importance of luck and timing in her own success. It's a nasty and vexing problems that seems to be a part of human nature.

In a recent post, Heather disparages the use of metrics to measure and understand the progress and process of blog marketing/recruiting:

I don't care about blog metrics. Oh yeah, page views are *interesting* and it's always cool to hear that one of my blog readers has been hired. But when it comes right down to it, for me, blog metrics are little more than trivia.

I've been involved in 2 conversations about this recently with people wanting to understand my perspective on the dynamics of blogging for work. My opinion is that if you *know* you are doing something good (and sometimes doing it well), your intent in trying to measure it further is what? Look, I get to do some cool stuff because of the blogging; speaking at conferences, doing webinars, people reach out to me that I wouldn't have known before. That, in and of itself, is enough reason to justify it as a work activity so why measure further? What would I be trying to make a case for? When the goal of the blogging is sharing a message about working at Microsoft and the life of an employee (that's me), what else do you need to know?

Does anyone remember Marie Antoinette? The Jane Curtin of France's revolution is famous to her purported response to the notion that the peasants were starving: "Let them eat cake." (Well, she actually didn't say it.) The phrase (like "Jane, you . . . ") has been used ever since to show the difference between the attitudes of the wealthy and the poor.

As if marketers, ad reps, publicists and others hadn't been working with buzz for a hundred years, she goes on to note:

Anyway, blogging is a different medium than traditional marketing. Think about it this way, if you speak at an event, you are in the business of putting butts in seats. The more butts you attract (sorry), the more people buy conference passes. How easily trackable!  But if you yell your message from a rooftop, not only is it less obvious how many people are hearing you but you have no control over (or knowledge of) your neighbor going to work and telling his office-mate about the nut job next door yelling on his roof. How not trackable.

Like a true pollyanna, Heather does the very thing that destroys HR's credibility over and over again. By ignoring the potential to quantify, control and improve the results of her work, she sets an example that others are likely to follow and quote. Of course metrics are important. If she didn't fill seats and get the traffic she does, you can bet that she'd be singing a different song. Sadly, many of our trusted leaders in HR share this type of blindspot.

To be very clear, anyone who isn't Heather needs metrics. Audience development, though it is part art and part science, is all about delivering predictability. Spoiled children are not good examples to follow.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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