How I know I am different than other people (blog metrics)

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?

Metrics around blogging are squishy (hard to measure) and I think that although it’s difficult for people in highly measurable roles to deal with that (in which case blogging might not make sense for them), it’s an inevitable fact in a free and democratic medium. With the potential for such a large audience on the internet, we have to come up with new paradigms (yes, I did) for assessing value. I would be hard pressed to convince a recruiter with a hiring goal that blogging is going to yield them x hires over y period of time. Once you blog a message and it goes viral, let it go. If it loves you, it will come back (or something like that…where’s Sting?).

I also think that this is the reason that many marketing folks are challenged by the notion of blogging. First, these are the people that, when they embark on a marketing initiative, need to measure it and have the budgets to do so. Do a big ad campaign, commission a research study to figure out if it drives purchasing behavior and brand perception. The ad campaign costs big bucks so it’s only smart to measure the effects. You spend 9 months on a detailed go-to-market campaign? You want to know if sales were on target post-launch. I can imagine how frustrating it is for people whose job is to control the message to think about blogging as a “marketing activity” or to develop a comprehensive marketing plan when you know full well that part of it gets executed by anyone who wants to. In comes some rogue blogger screwing with your marketing mojo. I get why that smarts. But it happens. Like I said before, if people are talking about my brand (which people are apt to do), I’d rather be part of the conversation.

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.

Now I know there are all kinds of blog tracking and metrics tools. The problem is I can’t really get myself to care about them all that much. It takes me away from what I really want to spend my time doing. Let’s say that I post something not directly related to marketing jobs at Microsoft (which we know I do often). This may draw more eyeballs than posting about a marketing job here. It also may get someone to subscribe to my blog and that person might read some of my posts about marketing jobs at Microsoft and start to think about working at Microsoft, might decide to apply to Microsoft, might get hired down the road. You can track activities (like clicks) but how do you track perception change, how do you track what’s going on in peoples’ minds? You can measure “blog authority” on a certain topic but it’s really just measuring mindshare (the part of it that is measurable by clicking and linking), not opinion (for example, the person that linked to you because they want their readers to see how wrong you are). That sounds flawed to me. And it certainly does not measure the person telling their friend what you blogged about. It doesn’t measure the person changing their opinion on something because of what you blogged about.

If I’m just after “traffic”, I could post about Paris Hilton (don’t worry, I won’t), George Bush, whatever topics are doing well on Technorati. But that would be the wrong behavior. I don’t want my selection of topics to be tainted by the influence of traffic metrics. I’m more interested in the value of the exchange than just the number of people involved in the conversation. And I invite my readers (both of you…hee!) to tell me what you want me to blog about.

But let me be clear that my view on all of this is absolutely impacted by the type of role I am in (I’m a rooftop yeller and a conference speaker). Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that every personality assessment I’ve done (you know, the four quadrants) tells me that if assessing metrics is going to take me away from getting the right stuff done, then I’m not interested (I’m a doer/director), but please have someone else do it when it makes sense(where’s our business analyst?). I’m also similar disinclined to write detailed plans but I’m having to work outside of my comfort zone on that one (here’s to progress and personal growth). I’m all about “what can we do right now?” and “let’s get creative and TRY this” and “let’s go!”. Planning is good and I do it, but working outside of plan can be good too.

I’m not advocating for the dismissal of metrics altogether (my team has metrics, it’s just that none of them are associated with my blog directly). In fact, metrics are absolutely key when they accurately address value of activities and as a driver of the right behaviors (neither of which applies to this here blog, in my opinion). I’m actually fascinated by the connection between metrics and behaviors. If I were managing a line recruiting team, I’d be all over those metrics. If I had a broader role in my organization, I’d be all over them too knowing that some of our work is squishy (outreach) and some is metrics driven (engaging candidates that lead to hires). I track some of the metrics for my programs closely. When we do an event, I’m tracking. When we put together a job posting deal, I’m tracking. But when it comes to blogging, hands off! Don’t mess with a good thing.

Of course, it’s all just my opinion on applying traditional marketing concepts to a relatively new medium (in the history of marketing). I feel similarly about the concept of the “editorial process”…if that becomes part of my blogging, I’m dunzo. Luckily it hasn’t. I have to say that I’m absolutely encouraged by the fact that NOBODY here at Microsoft has asked me to track blog metrics or tried to influence my message.

I’m sure some folks feel very strongly about the use of metrics for blogging. I’m not going to tell you that most bloggers share my perspective on this. I just don’t know. I get the metrics question from bloggers and non-bloggers alike (the question usually involves the term ROI). I’d rather think of blogging as a more organic medium and I’d rather remain unencumbered by the specter of statistics when I know what I am doing is good (meaning that the effects of the blogging that are obvious justify the time investment at a minimum). I’m not sure it’s important to know the total ROI.  Instead of spending my time “tracking” I can just do more blogging. Of course, you could change my mind with a good argument on the value of metrics. I just haven’t heard it yet.

Comments (39)

  1. Jeff Parker says:

    You forgot one thing about your readers. We try to expand your horizons. I still have hope that you will some day sit down and just try a cheeseburger pizza. But I will continue to enjoy yuor blog even if you do not try one.

  2. anon says:

    Blogging is evolving a lot so it is hard to measure.

    For example, some page views are far more influential than others.  If 1000s of people view a site but none of the viewers act on it-> the blog is not that influential (and influence is one aspect of the product).  

    However, if only 2 people read a blog and the blog influences decisions by these 2 people about 10s of millions, or even billions of dollars -> the blog is influential.

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Cute, Jeff. That is not going to happen any time soon. But you make a good point. The other hard-to-measure aspect of blogging is that I learn as much (if not more) from readers than they do from me. That did come up in one of my recent conversations. Blogging can be a very valuable, if anecdotal, reasearch tool.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    anon-good illustration. I guess the right time to measure, if you could, is at the point of decision, right? You’d measure the attention you draw and then the decision that are + and –

  5. Elliott Back says:

    Unfortunately, not everyone has a well established career, and they’d like a big slice of blog traffic.  Maybe, like me, those random visitors pay big buck through ad clicks.  So, I do a little of both.  I write about things I care about, and I write about what will get my hits.  I can’t afford to be 100% pure.

  6. Dan Hill says:

    Some of us just like numbers. Important, well, depends whose looking.

    Do you think Steve Rubel landed his new job with assistance from his metrics?

    Is ad revenue directly proportional (or at least correlated) to traffic?

    If so, then maybe metrics are valuable.

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    Elliott-good point. People who are selling ads on their blogs is a different story. I can’t, for obvious reasons.

    Dan-I thikn it’s different in a case where someone gets a job because of their blog. Do I think that his blog traffic has something to do with it? Yep, but I think that the reason why is because he’s credible. It’s not just the traffic. I have no doubt that Steve has pretty rare knowledge on the intersection of PR and blogging that Edelman is thrilled to have on their team. So yeah, when someone’s offered a new job that is focused on deep knowledge of the blogging medium, I think that traffic (or what it suggests, but doesn’t prove, about credibility and authority) is pretty much a requirement (which supports your point about metrics being valuable in that situation…agreed). I could also (but won’t) point to bloggers who have plenty of traffic they could not parlay (sp?) into that kind of opportunity. Frankly, Steve us a rare find and Edelman is lucky to have him, which I am sure they’ve told him.

  8. David.Wang says:

    I totally agree with your points Heather.

    The reasons to blog are distinctly personal, even in a work context, and I’m glad there are no bean-counters trying to influence what to blog about. We all have our "point" and "takes" on things, and blogging allows "like" people to aggregate and communicate.

    I only look at the numbers provided by Community Server in aggregate to get a feel for "what people like to read from me" as well as "what pushes the readers’ buttons" (based on comments). It’s just interesting data points to muse about, but would I let it influence what I write in the future? Absolutely not. 🙂

    For example, in my role as a product team member, I have no idea how to quantify the ROI of my blogging. All I know is that I’m playing some role in improving customer satisfaction since users get advice, tools, and detailed information from me that they cannot get anywhere else. Does it take away my time to design/develop/test my product? Yup. But does it allow me to immerse myself with typical users to understand their needs and psyche so that I can do my job better? Yup. And do I transfer these opinions back to product team decisions? You bet; I’m opinionated and have no fear to ruffle some feathers.

    All I know is that blogging leads to many naturally good behaviors, so I agree — hands off — don’t mess with a good thing. 🙂


  9. Paul says:

    You have expressed very concisely why your blog is popular and interesting.  It is certainly why I take the time to come back now and then.

    Caring about "popularity" and writing to get hits is inherently less interesting, artificial and manipulative.  As a result, Elliott should realize that while it may help get ad bucks in the short term, in the long term it is destructive to his goal.

    Like so many things in life, there is no short cut.  Be honest, say what you mean, let your personality come through, and let the chips fall where they may.  In the long haul, you will build the natural audience you deserve for the right reasons.

    There are relevant metrics (there are always relevant metrics, no matter how subjective and fuzzy it all seems), but it probably makes more sense for your management to track them to monitor customer perceptions and satisfaction and the influence of blogging in general on the aggregate numbers than for you to worry about the inevitable ups and downs of your particular piece.

    Another great post Heather.

  10. Paul Pajo says:

    Hi Heather,

    One quick way to measure this is track how many projects/deals you get within a year or even valuable connections you make that become projects/deals within the year. It’s March already. 9 months to go! 🙂

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    David-you and I are definitely thinking about blogging in the same way. When I stopped doing the Apprecntice recaps, I considered the fact that I was going to lose a lot of traffic but I decided to give them up anyway.

    Paul-I know this sounds crazy, but my chain of command is not tracking any metrics with regard to my blog. Trust me, they are totally hands-off. We don’t even really talk about it in any kind of depth. But anyway, you are right that thikning too much about traffic can lead one down the wrong path, even if ad revenue is a factor, because people come to blogs for content, not ads.

    Paul-the thing is, I don’t do deals or projects with anyone outside Microsoft.  There are some hires that result but I think if I focused too much on that as an immediate goal, I’d lose my mojo. ; )

  12. The truth about blogging is when you do not try so hard good things come.  Write the truth and traffic will come.  That is what I have found.

  13. We wouldn’t want you to lose your mojo.  It took Autin Powers a whole movie to get his back, and it was an ugly process.  Truth be told, I started reading your blog because of The Apprentice recaps (speaking of which–hello!  new season!  Where are the ‘bumbles of the week’?).  But your blog is one I really enjoy, because it gives me a view of other sides of MS.  I think a lot of people who read the MSDN blogs are developers, and would like to to be developers for MS.  Not me–if MS were in my career path, I’d prefer to be a DCC/DE, or in MS consulting.  Outreach type of positions.  However, we’ve gone through DCCs/DEs in the Greater PA region like Spinal Tap went through drummers.  I liked your interviews, and hope you do some more of those.

    Also, being a smart-alec, I appreciate other smart-alecs.  And your blog and comments are sometimes just fun.

    Blogs like yours make MS seem less like Borg, and more like some place you’d like to hang out.  It’s one of the few I aggregate on my Treo (not easy reading too much on a 2" x 2" screen, so it has to be the stuff I like).  Good will is one of those intangibles that is priceless, and not just because it’s unmeasurable.

  14. HeatherLeigh says:

    Richard (I can’t decide if I want to call you Richard or Dudley, but probably not both)- I have toadmit that the first Apprentice episode is still sitting in my DVR. Last week was so busy and this weekend (well Saturday) was sunny so I was outside all day and it was hard to find time to watch a show I knew was going to make me angry ; ) I’ll get there, I promise. You get major points for even mentioning Spinal Tap. "He choked on his vomit…actually  it was someone elses’s vomit…you can’t dust for vomit" (ew, that looks gross in print but ST fans know what I am talking about).

    Thanks for the nice words about the blog. That whole "borg" perception from the outside always puzzles me. I don’t see it…I guess having access to the people here is the reason why; which I think was exactly your point. I’m so human, it’s embarassing.

  15. Dudley says:

    Dudley is fine–most people call me that.

    Your blog goes to 11 once your Apprentice recaps come back.

    Sunshine.  Can’t wait.  Friggin’ groundhog!

  16. HeatherLeigh says:

    Partly sunny here right now (and Saturday was sunny all the way through but my muscles ache from doing yard work…either way, let’s blame the groundhog, OK?).

    I wonder, if I were to do a post on the Apprentice, would it be in Dubley?

    I have to rent that movie again!

  17. Tim says:

    Heather – Thanks for giving me the full skinny on how you’re doing metrics. I’ve just been having a discussion over "hits" with supervisor and I’m wondering how that will change my blog. Now, she is definitely hands-off when it comes to content, but I’m wondering if the numbers will change how we do some thing.

    I personally don’t believe you could get many Marketers behind a blog without knowing the ROI. I’m afraid most of them would say that if a blog is not driving the numbers, it needs to be changed. Or be history.

    Probably best that you are working for a Recruiting Dept. and not Marketing?

  18. Dudley says:

    Your Apprentice recap would be better that way.  And I seriously have to watch the typos now!

  19. HeatherLeigh says:

    Tim-yeah, you are right about marketers. And frankly, I think it’s OK for "marketers" not to be highly involved, but they should be aware and not try to mess with the content of other peoples’. Never say never, but I don’t know that I would be the right person to work in a real "marketing" role, if you differentiate community building from marketing, or if you differentiate evangelism from marketing. I feel like I do the former, rather than the latter. I guess the key is finding what you are good at and running with it! The parts of my job that I find the most challenging are the ones that seem like more traditional marketing. But that’s all about personal growth, I guess ; )

    Dudley-I have to figure out what I’ll do with the Apprentice. Perhaps I’ll watch the first epi and some ridiculousness will jump out at me as needing to be commented upon. Maybe I’ll watch it tonight as I recover from my workout #2!

  20. David.Wang says:

    Honestly, I really enjoy your Apprentice recaps when you had them. I guess I’m not that super observant nor do I form quick opinions of people (I’m one of those detailed, methodical and opinionated[technically] people), so your recaps made me tune in to many things I do not observe off the top.

    I guess I’m trying to say that your writing provokes active thought no matter the topic, whether it is an Apprentice recap, or about Blogging as new medium, HR in general, or just some rant/rave, etc. It is one reason I enjoy reading your blog – because it disengages me from my normal train of thought and makes me think a little broader, differently, and contemplate about more things.


  21. shoelover says:

    Ah, blog metric…………just like eyeball stats of the internet of late 90’s……….and we all know where that got us

  22. HeatherLeigh says:

    yeah, sticky eyeballs…

  23. Shoelover and anon are spot on.  Metrics, shmetrics.  When people start talking about them… grab your wallet or handbag.  There’s a grifter nearby.

  24. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hey, if it was about traffic, I’d still be blogging about Alaska Airlines. Anyone want to revisit that one? I don’t.

  25. Tammy says:

    How do you think your blog has helped to attract talent for your organization?  I’m a student working on a research paper on innovative recruiting and really like your blog.

  26. Paul says:

    It appears that both Heather and Tim have a rather low opinion of marketers, or perhaps just an unfortunate definition of what marketing is.

    If there is any marketer who believes "it is all about numbers", then they should be fired, because they don’t understand some of the basics about what motivates people to buy and what builds brand allegiances.  Although we ultimately hope that all marketing increases revenue and profitability (if it doesn’t, why are you doing it?), the path to getting there is not always a straight line.

    One thing that I think of any time someone says marketing is about numbers is back in 1982 when a few bottles of Tylenol were tampered with on pharmacy shelves in Chicago, and 7 people died of cyanide poisoning.  Johnson and Johnson had a brand crisis, a marketing crisis, a PR crisis and a management crisis as consumers across the country panicked.  Fortunately, the CEO ignored all that, and didn’t think about how to market his way out of the problem, but aligned his priorities in the right place – people were dieing, and the ethical stance of the company was more important than the numbers.

    For those too young to remember, all Tylenol across the country was pulled from shelves immediately, consumers were given the opportunity to return any Tylenol they had at home for a refund (even if it was old, and clearly not part of the tainted few bottles).  The recall cost was in excess of $100M.  (That’s almost how much Bill Gates is worth in today’s dollars.  Well, maybe not.)  The company’s advertising budget was used to disseminate the message to make sure that consumer safety came first, and this was at a time when it was by no means certain that Tylenol wasn’t so damaged by the bad publicity that it could ever return to the shelves.

    This was at a time when the belief in business was that the corporation’s only responsibility was to make a profit, and at that time J & J was a true leader in social responsibility.  Contrast that with the much more recent story of another brand icon, Coca Cola’s handling of supposedly tainted tins of soft drink in Belgium, and how their dismissal of it and slow reaction led to significant losses in Europe, loss of public trust, and countries banning all Coke products during the hysteria .

    Ultimately, after several months, Tylenol was returned to the shelves and introduced the first tamper-proof packaging that we all now love to hate but still expect to see.  The expectation of the company was that the Tylenol brand had probably suffered irrecoverable damage, but in fact, it quickly became the number one selling painkiller.

    Marketing is about everything you do which is why this blog is successful.  Ethics and integrity are as much a part of it as image and communication.  Attitude, thoughtfulness, creativity and personality are some of the things that can’t be measured, and if you try you will ruin them.  Some things can and should be measured, but overthinking numbers at the expense of the big picture has caused the failure of many a great product.

    btw, Heather, you are a consummate marketer.  So don’t slag them – educate people about what marketing really means.  If there were more people like you in Microsoft’s upper echelons and in the marketing department, the company would quickly lose the Borg image that you don’t seem aware of.

    Note to Tammy: This is precisely how Heather’s blog attracts people to the organization.  It gives the company a personality that we can identify with, different from the official corporate gloss and positioning which stifles individuality.  It is a friendly entry point.

  27. HeatherLeigh says:

    Paul-I agree with what you say except that I have a low opinion of marketers. I don’t, otherwise, I wouldn’t have this job.  I don’t have the marketing experience to be considered a "marketer" (hence the quotes though all employees can be considered marketers to some extent). I really consider myself as more of an "evangelist". My work does not go through the same planning and execution processes that are used in marketing.  Am I part of the marketing ecosystem? Sure, but far from being a "marketer" (there’s a lot I can learn from them). Many marketing vehicles are measurable so I know where the needs for quantifying results are coming from. I just don’t buy into the fact that blogging is one of those things.

    It is a wise marketer, in my opinion, that works to understand blogs and bloggers and uses them for product and marketing feedback but takes a hands-off approach to trying to measure them as a marketing vehicle. As has been stated by others, it’s hard to quantify credibility and reputation.

    And I am far from the approriate person to educate marketers on what marketing really means. I just know my little slice but I really lack the functional experience to speak more broadly than that.

  28. Paul says:

    c’mon.  You doth protest too much.

    You may not be professionally trained, but you have a solid instinct.  I would trust your opinion on most marketing subjects much more than the bafflegab and dumb decisions that I see from much of the marketing intelligentsia.

    The only reason to measure a blog is to set a rate card for advertising.  If you use metrics in a manipulative way (to tune content for the masses) then you are as dishonest as all our politicians who seek polls to tell them what they think.

    Although metrics have a place, I do not worship at the alter, and I am a marketer with a lot of successful metrics behind me.  Whenever I see a comment like "the marketers wouldn’t approve it if it isn’t driving numbers", it drives me nuts.  That myopia is the bane of the business world (see Marketing Myopia by Ted Levitt, .  I guess when I see that people have that impression that marketing is all about numbers, it is generally associated with a condescending impression of the whole class.

    Whether evangelizing, blogging, direct marketing, advertising, publicizing, communicating, branding, packaging, promoting, pricing, and whether measured or not, anyone who does what you do is a marketer.  Your experience as a marketer is outstanding – I would hire you in a heartbeat based on demonstrated ability.  You just think you’re a staffing specialist.

  29. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hey, I’m with you on your opinion on blog metrics, though if I expressed them as directly as you, some in the staffing industry might rush to have me tarred and feathered.

    I’ll be more careful about how I refer to "marketers". ‘Some marketers" would be more appropriate…marketers that don’t embrace blogging, etc. There are clearly some marketers that get blogging, some are lagging.

    I’ll meet you half way on the issue of whether I am a marketer. I do feel like there’s an instinctual aspect, but without the structured functional aspect based on experience I lack, I doubt that many, besides you, would  hire me for a "marketing" role. But  instincts can help you pass in many situations. One thing I’ll point out (and you might already notice from my blog style) is that when I try to articulate marketing concepts, it’s mostly based on observations and I often don’t have the marketing terminology or marketing theory in my background to launch an incredibly deep argument. I can hold my own with Staffing folks but if I had to debate the effectiveness of one GTM strategy versus another to a real marketing person, they could easily bury me. Still, I observe a lot and can relate what I observe to basic marketing concepts. Plus I love writing (if you want to liken that to the creative side of marketing).

    Trust me, it’s not false modesty. I just prefer to be the first to point out my weaknesses. It keeps others from rejoicing in discovering that I am not something I profess to be.

    Of course, I’m flattered that you would hire me ; )

  30. Paul says:

    I will be careful how I phrase this, but if I mess up, I hope you’ll understand. When you point out that "many would not hire you for a marketing role", you are probably correct.  Of course, I find that most hr/staffing people, as well as the majority of middle managers are also myopic, and unwilling to consider talent that doesn’t conform to a laundry list of specifications.  In other words, we rarely look for strong general talent, and instead "fill positions".

    I saw this "blinkers on" attitude profoundly exhibited in a friend who was a senior consultant with one of the top retained recruiting agencies.  One of his favorite expressions was "we’re looking for a 42 off the rack", which meant they had the exact middle-of-the-road jacket picked out, and they were searching only for candidates who fit the jacket perfectly.  I know that clients aren’t paying for imagination, or for recommending an even better match based on aptitude and personality rather than prescribed specifications, but this phrase always rubbed me the wrong way.  Despite liking this guy and realizing that he is a very smart and successful salesman/recruiter, this expression represented for me the quintessence of what’s missing in the recruiting and hiring business.

    Whether or not you wish to be a marketer, or even wish to be considered as one, you demonstrate raw aptitude, passion for what you do, and expressive ability.  I would rather have 1 person like you than 5 specialist MBAs trained as "marketers" (unless they also have the other bit).  I can teach you the technical skills (and you would pick them up quickly, including the language of the trade), but it is very difficult to impart the gift of caring about what’s important, much less recognizing it when you see it.

    The reason most marketers are mediocre is that they are very good at doing the wrong things well.  It’s better to do the right things half as well.

    Ask any successful entrepreneur.  They’ll tell you they didn’t know how to do most of the things they needed to when they started – but they understood their target customer and the problems they could provide solutions to for that customer, and they understand that the key to success was staying attentive to serving the customer’s needs.

    So what say you?  By some tortuous path, this blog entry has come around to a hiring and staffing issue.  And, a thorny one at that.  In my own experience, I can attest to the fact that the worst hiring decisions I ever made were when I created a laundry list and hired to it, but when I was more open-minded about the qualities necessary to perform, I often found outstanding people who greatly exceeded expectations.

    re: metrics.  You are lucky your masters are not stuck on numbers (at least, not yet).  I think there will come a time when this domain matures, and the only way you’d get approval for a project like this is if someone cooked up some numbers and tracked results against expectations.  Today, we have a golden age of blog creativity because we’re still figuring out what works and what doesn’t and what’s good and what isn’t.  As soon as the scientists think they have the formula, no more Blog Free America (at least it won’t emanate from corporations).

    re: hiring you.  I just trying to give you some ammo for the next round of salary discussions.

  31. HeatherLeigh says:

    Paul-thanks. You said that well and of course, I’m flattered. I’ll try to keep what you said in mind come review time. One interesting thing is that I never intended to go into Staffing. It just kind of happened (many people in the recruiting industry have a story about how they fell into recruiting). Interestingly, I was also in the entrepreneur program in college…I liked the idea of figuring out what needed to get done (this I discovered while I was in the program, it wasn’t the deciding factor on picking my business emphasis).

    Anyway, the idea you refer to of hiring people for core talents we refer to here as hiring on potential. It is challenging to look beyond the functional skills and hire that way. It’s a risk that has huge payoffs when it works well. It definitely takes a certain kind of manager to hire that way. I like those kinds of managers!

  32. Paul says:

    I thought you might feel that way.

    I ended up in marketing by accident as well.  I started off as a mathie, got bored and quit, then went back to school to study and do art.  Specialized in commercial art in my final year, and then was trying to get my own company off the ground when I met another entrepreneur who asked me to join his company without any specific role defined.

    I ended up writing and designing the (software) company’s first brochure as my first project, and learned marketing from there by the seat of my pants.  Ironically, other than designing a brochure, I have never directly used any of my formal education at work (at least until many years later when I did an MBA).

    Most often the kind of managers we are talking about are either owners or the most senior level in a company.  There’s something about having too much structure in an organization and people with political ambition to rise through the ranks that stifles intelligent risk-taking at lower levels.  I’m sure Microsoft is finding it harder and harder over time to keep up the spirit that was there in the late 70s, and early to mid-80s.  If you ever get a chance to meet Bill, I’m sure he would tell you that is one of his biggest frustrations/challenges.  Where will the next batch of Steve Ballmers and Jeff Raikes’s and Jim Allchins come from?  Perhaps by acquisition/import, like Ray Ozzie?

    Rounding back to your original point, I think the fact that you don’t care about metrics is indeed one of the identifying attributes that makes you different and intuitively good at what you do.  It’s like one of the key points on a fingerprint – it doesn’t mean anything by itself, but taken with another 10 or 11 proxy attributes, it is pretty important in the unique entity that is you.

    Another interesting attribute is how much effort you put into this, and engaging in dialogs like this one.  That is something I’ve noticed about the blogs that I visit and enjoy.  The ones that just post stuff they think they are supposed to, or that offer only what is "relevant" to their readership (i.e. stuff related to what they’re selling), but lack interaction with readers, are cold and boring.  Would like to see a metric for that!

    Be careful, though, you might humanize the Borg,  . . .

  33. Fred Dryer says:

    Didn’t we go metrics in the 70s or wha?

  34. HeatherLeigh says:

    Paul-I notice that on some blogs too. My "answer every e-mail" philosophy spills over to the blog too. Speaking of which, I would LOVE if you started a blog Paul, you have really interesting things to say. If you were a Microsoft employee, I’d give you some real estate here (keep  posting comments here, OK?). The dialog is good because my readers are smart. As far as the borg guys (really you and Richard Dudley) are going to start to convince me that we have an image problem (hee!). I swear that borg thing puzzles me. We need to do a better job of putting our employees out there for people to seel. I spoke with our staffing marketing team about that. I like to think that you would be incredibly pleasantly surprised if you got to meet a bunch of our folks. I know you think I am cool (I kid), but I’m not alone!

    Fred-we tried (oh, i so remember that…it was Jimmy carter, right?). I hear it’s all the rage in France.

  35. Hi Heather. I like your discussion, it makes a lot of sense to me. Perhaps one can’t put hard and fast metrics on a blog. However since Werner Vogels, the CTO over at Amazon was after metrics, I had a go at a simple equation to calculate whether a blog delivers ROI. You can see the equation here:

    Love to hear what your readers think of my logic!

  36. HeatherLeigh says:

    Jason-I took a look at it and good job putting some "math" thinking around the problem. The challenge is that many (if not most) corporate bloggers aren’t doing it to generate leads, they are doing it for branding. Also, your equations give equal value to all leads (as someone who has had to call through leads in the past, I know that is not the case). Lots and lots of people visit my blog, and may change their perception of Microsoft, without ever identifying themselves (as a lead). They may tell a friend (who may or may not visit or become a lead). They might go out and purchase something and there’s no way to know whether what they read on the blog drove them there (we don’t work in a vacuum, multiple programs could, together, influence purchasing do you isolate them?) The problem is that there’s so much value that is unaccounted for. One of the boggest impacts for me, of blogging, has been new media opportunities that I didn’t have before…being interviewed by publications that get a good word about Microsoft out there. That isn’t accounted for in any metrics. The fact is that everything is not trackable until we put chips in people’s heads ; )

    I think what you have come up with may satisfy some people like Werner Vogels and if that’s the case then great. And if they are making business decisions based on that, well, then, great. I guess they are hearing what they need to hear.  They are still missing out on understanding the *true* ROI offered by blogs. Some people are more comfortable in a space where they don’t have to quantify everything because the things that are important aren’t measurable. Some people aren’t comfortable in that space. The latter probably shouldn’t blog then (that’s where I disagree with Robert and Shel). If your company doens’t value the things that blogging has to offer then you shouldn’t do it. I might questin what the company values but the work has to match to the cororpate culture and objectives and if it doens’t then the work (blogging) doens’t make sense.

    When I go out and speak about recruitment blogging (to others in the staffing industry), one point that I emphasize is that you should consider doing it if you  have responsibility for employment branding. If you try to do it just looking for candidates, it’s a much less valuable tool (and much more long-term). I liken that to selling product. Use blogs to improve your brand, but if you are doing it just to try to get incremental sales, there’s less value.

    I wasn’t in the talk at Amazon, but from what I have seen about it, I don’t agree with Robert and Shel that blogging works for every company. And I also don’t think that people at a book tour meeting should expedct the authors to come in to that meeting with a ready made recommendation for their company. That is called consulting and that costs money. I get that Amazon sees authors coming in to discuss their works as a perq (sp?) of being a book retailer but come on…it’s just a book tour.