A potpourri of observations on social media and the analyst ecosystem

icon-social-media-blue.jpgTime to take a minute to check in with what’s up with the analyst ecosystem and social media.

Atwitter about Twitter – Twitter continues to be a hot topic in general with some negative backlash developing (e.g., Morgan Stanley’s report that teens do not care for Twitter and Nielsen’s research that millions are “Twitter quitters”). So what? It does not matter how many millions of users don’t use Twitter after signing up or how many millions follow some actor or talk show host. What matters for AR teams is whether their most relevant analysts are using Twitter and how it is being used.

Forrester and Gartner Blog Traffic: Nothing to sneeze about – We caused a bit of a buzz when we compared the traffic hits on Jeremiah Owyang’s personal blog to Gartner’s and Forrester’s corporate websites in Don’t underestimate the visibility a blog can provide an analyst because Jeremiah’s blog had twice the traffic of the two corporate websites combined. Looking at the firms’ own blog networks shows good traffic to them as the graphic illustrates (click here or graphic to enlarge). Forrester’s team blogs have averaged 65,000 unique visitors per month over the last year. The Gartner Blog Network has grown steadily since its September 2008 launch to 29,000 unique visitors in July.

Forrester Gartner blog networks traffic - small 

Social media metrics, useful but not “special” – As we were working on Continue reading

Don’t discount the business value of analysts’ 350,000+ phone-based inquiries with end-user clients

icon-social-media-blue.jpgIn all the buzz about 21st century social media like Twitter and blogs there is this 19th century warhorse that is the analyst firms’ secret weapon – the telephone.

 Yes, the lowly telephone.

A common conversation SageCircle has with vendor executives is their opinion that analyst research is commoditized because so much information is available for free on the Web and in blogs, thus analyst influence must be dropping. It quickly turns out that the executive is almost always referring to the analysts’ published research. Our point in this post is that written research has always been commoditized and thus the written word is not what sells analyst services. What clients really buy is spoken advice – personalized and delivered real time – that cannot be commoditized, digitized, and distributed around the Internet.

Many members of the vendor community do not have a visceral feel for the client value delivered by these ad hoc phone-based inquiries between analysts and end users because they have never participated in one. Often vendor executives approve spending for analyst contracts because they think it is all part of a pay-to-play payola scheme. Because of this attitude they never bother to actually use the inquiry services they buy. 

However, the typical end user client of an advisory firm does not have this negative bias about analyst firms. For the enterprise IT manager, the advisory analyst is a trusted, objective advisor. In many cases, the analyst can actually save the client many times the analyst contract cost by providing timely insights – via a short phone inquiry – about a vendor contract the IT manager is Continue reading

Don’t underestimate the visibility a blog can provide an analyst

An interesting exercise is to compare the relative web traffic between the largest advisory analyst firm (Gartner), the largest IT market research firm (IDC) and a very visible analyst who has his own blog. Using the site comparison feature of Compete here is the graphic showing Forrester analyst extraordinaire and social media poster boy Jeremiah Owyang’s (bio, Twitter handle, blog) personal blog Web Strategy by Jeremiah, Gartner.com and IDC.com:

Traffic comparison Gartner.com IDC.com and Jeremiah Owyang blog 

Click here or on the graphic to enlarge. The top blue line is Jeremiah’s blog, the green middle line is Gartner.com and the bottom orange line is IDC.com. There is not a single month in the past year where Web Strategy by Jeremiah did not receive more unique visitors (an average of 136,000 per month) than Gartner.com and IDC.com combined.

Not an apples-to-apples comparison… and that is the point 

Of course, comparing two very different types of websites, a blog vs. corporate sites, is not an apples-to-apples assessment. Rather this illustrates how a savvy analyst can leverage a personally branded blog to obtain unique access to a broader audience than he could even on the regular research website of a $1.2bn but very traditional analyst firm. This is because the analyst blog is easily Continue reading

Where do social media metrics fit into an AR measurement program? [Practitioner Question]

AR Metrics & MeasurementQuestion: Are social media like blogs and Twitter something we should be measuring or is it too early yet? Where does social media fit in a measurement scheme?

icon-social-media-blue.jpg If your analysts are using social media, then including those sorts of metrics in a measurement program is really not optional. In this case we are putting social media on par with published research, press quotes, and activity counts as something worthy of measuring. While a 140-character tweet does not have the impact of a Gartner Magic Quadrant, it can provide useful information that should be added to the data mix.

Social media has elements of both operational metrics and performance metrics. Some example uses include:

  • Operational
    • Unfiltered opinions feed into plans and briefings
    • Activity insights feed into interaction calendars
    • Tweets and blog comments by AR to an analyst fulfill top-of-mind touches requirements
  • Performance
    • Tonality tracks analyst opinion movement
    • Mentions of company, products, and competitors with opinion can track changes in perception

Social media metrics complement other sources of data. For example, social media can complement Spoken Word Audits because social media-based conversations between analysts and end users are often personal, unfiltered, and Continue reading

Use an AR team handle to divide the Twitter workload

icon-social-media-blue.jpgWhen AR professionals consider using Twitter to interact with analysts they often shy away from the activity based on their perception of adding yet another task to an already heavy workload. There is even the perception that following an analyst using a personal Twitter handle (e.g., @daveeckert or @carterlusher) sets the expectation that the AR professional should be interacting with the analyst and not just observing their tweets. While this is not an unreasonable concern, our experience is the effective use of Twitter rarely has a large workload impact (see Analyze social media traffic of analysts to determine your workload). 

One way for AR programs with two or more staff members to get around the perceived workload issue is to set up an AR team handle (e.g., www.twitter.com/vendor_AR) and then switch support duties periodically (e.g., on Mondays). Then only one team member at a time is monitoring analysts’ Twitter traffic and posting appropriate tweets about the vendor. This approach also has the advantage of building the AR team’s brand with the analysts.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Set up an AR team handle on Twitter – select a name which reflects it as a team-branded handle.
  • Create a schedule of Continue reading

Ouch! Analysts expressing strong opinions on Twitter

icon-social-media-blue.jpgAs the analyst community becomes more comfortable with Twitter and other forms of social media they are expressing more opinions, and expressing them more strongly. For example, here is a tweet from a Forrester analyst about a vendor he covers (the names have been changed):

Analyst-name RT @person: <vendor name> biggest challenge is awareness. <analyst> – Nope. <vendor name> has plenty of awareness. They need new strategy.

Obviously an analyst opining that a vendor “…needs new strategy…” is pretty strong. If a prospect of that vendor reads that tweet then he or she might have a seed of doubt about that vendor planted in their brain. This seed could sprout into a weed of skepticism about the vendor’s viability and put the vendor at a disadvantage in the sales cycle. In addition, competitors’ sales teams could make sure the prospect sees this tweet as way to reinforce any seeds of FUD they are already are trying to sow.

On the positive side, this sort of unfiltered opinion might be one that the analyst has not directly expressed to the vendor. Knowing that the analyst has such a negative opinion gives the vendor the ability to investigate why Continue reading

LinkedIn: Another Area for AR Attention

icon-social-media-blue.jpgPlease don’t shoot the messenger, but it is becoming increasingly clear that LinkedIn might be something some AR teams also have to start monitoring. Why? Industry analysts are using LinkedIn not just as a contact management system, but more and more as a research, community-building, and marketing tool. Examples:

  • Building forums using LinkedIn Groups
  • Gathering structured data using LinkedIn Polls
  • Collecting unstructured opinions using LinkedIn Answers
  • Issuing research project launch announcements using Network Updates
  • Letting reporters know they are available for quotes using Network Updates
  • Requesting information contributions using Network Updates

Logo - LinkedInWe think that this trend is sufficiently important that we have added which relevant LinkedIn Groups analysts moderate or belong to into SageCircle’s Analyst Social Media Traffic Analysis database (which already had URL for LinkedIn profiles). This will make it easier for clients to evaluate whether this is an issue they should be concerned about.

BTW, this service can eliminate the work of establishing whether your top analysts are tweeting, blogging and using LinkedIn for research. Starting at $195, it is a bargain. Click here for more information. Annual Advisory clients can request a traffic analysis at no charge.

The following technique suggestions assume that you have a profile on LinkedIn and know how to use at least its basic features. SageCircle Advisory clients can set up an inquiry to have a short walk-through of LinkedIn if they want to get up-to-speed quickly.

SageCircle Technique:

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