Friday, 10 December 2010

More on social influencers – online mavens and connectors


  I’ve been posting on Social Advantage about Josh Bernoff’s book, Empowered, triggered by a incident with the Trainline, discussed on Twitter last week.  In the follow-up post I noted that Bernoff’s points about mass connectors and mavens should apply to employees as well:

The first is the idea of mass online influencers who help spread trends through the web. These consist of two groups (see picture) based on Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis from ‘Tipping Point’ – mass connectors who know a wide variety of other people through social networks (huge Twitter followings, lots of Facebook friends etc), and mass mavens - experts and post and comment on particular topics. [This seems to correspond in part to Chris Brogan’s differentiation of social from new media.]

Mass connectors are a small proportion of all online users but account for 80% of all ‘influence impressions’ about products and services. Mass mavens are a similarly small proportion of online users and account for 80% of all influence posts. Exactly what these proportions are depends on the product or service in question. The reason I make this point here is that I think the same analysis could be made for employees too – but not many organisations I know consider these mass connectors and mavens within their talent groups!


But there’s something else that’s interesting here too.  Bernoff suggests that 11 million people from the US online population are mass connectors and 24 million are mass mavens.  7 mission people are in the overlap between the two (as shown in the Venn diagramme).

Ie Bernoff suggests there are many more online mavens (bloggers and commenters) than there are online connectors (social networking site users).  And once you take out the overlap, there are actually very few (well, a few million) online connectors who aren’t also bloggers.

What I find interesting in this, related to my previous posts on social influencers in HR, is that Bernoff’s findings are the direct opposite of what I’m seeing in the (UK) HR social media space where there’s now a fairly sizeable number of HR practitioners on Twitter and in other social spaces (eg the Connecting HR Yammer group) but a lower if still substantial number of bloggers.  I think Rick was probably the last of the high profile UK HR bloggers to make the move onto Twitter so we’re all on there now. In fact with the exception of my Connecting HR activities I’m probably the most maven vs connector-like of the UK HR social media using group (go on, comment on this post and prove me wrong!).

I guess this is a consequence of all being part of a professional community (in the broadest sense) where there is a clear common interest and some fairly easy ways to connect with each other.  Obviously a consumer of a particular organisation’s products is a lot less well connected with other consumers, so is more naturally going to turn to blogging than tweeting.

But I think it supports the points I’ve been making previously about social influencers in HR not just being HR bloggers, but people who are using social media in its broader sense to help connect, engage and converse (being connectors vs mavens).



Picture credit:


  • Consulting - Research - Speaking  - Training -  Writing
  • Strategy  -  Talent  -  Engagement  -  Change and OD
  • Contact  me to  create more  value for  your business
  • jon  [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com


1 comment:

  1. This issue many businesses find is finding the influential people in their sector.

    This all links in rather nicely with a new report we have just created - a head-to-head comparison of 9 leading social media monitoring tools (Radian6, Sysomos, Scoutlabs etc) with a particular emphasis on their ability to find influencers.

    You can download the report for free at:

    Please let us know your feedback to the report.


Please add your comment here (email me your comments if you have trouble and I will put them up for you)