Is social media today the grain of sand that will become tomorrow’s pearl in the analyst ecosystem?

icon-social-media-blue.jpgWhile getting significant buzz, the use of social media in the analyst ecosystem is still at a nascent stage. Some analysts and AR professionals are making interesting use of blogs, Twitter, and so on, but for the most part social media is just being played with a little or being ignored all together. Those members of the ecosystem who are not seriously looking at social media might wake up one day to find that social media has become a force and they are seriously and dangerously behind the curve. 

A natural pearl occurs when an irritant, such as a grain of sand, gets inside an oyster’s shell which the oyster cannot expel. The oyster then starts to secrete a mixture of aragonite and conchiolin in minute layers around the irritant to coat it and reduce the irritation. Over time, many many layers of coating transform the grain of sand into a beautiful pearl. This is an apt metaphor for social media because definitely some members of the community, analysts and AR teams, consider social media an irritant and have yet see the slow transformation that is happening around it.

Major changes in a market or form of communications are often not via a big bang, but by the accretion of little changes that reach a critical mass. The individuals or companies who benefit the most from these changes are Continue reading

Forrester’s blogs – Observations while building the new SageCircle Forrester Blog Directory

icon-social-media-blue.jpgToday SageCircle is launching a new directory for tracking the Forrester analysts who blog. You can find it in the left-hand navigation menu section Directories. Look for Blog Directory – Forrester

The reason why a directory is needed even though Forrester has a blog home page is how they have organized their blogs. Forrester’s analyst blogs are centered on particular “roles,” which is now Forrester’s standard approach to research management. Forrester blogs are typically team written with various analysts contributing posts. That causes a problem for people, end users or vendors, who want to know which analyst posts to which blog. The blog home page lists the blogs, but not the analysts who contribute to them. Therefore SageCircle has done the work of identifying which analysts contribute to which blogs and put that information in our Forrester blog directory.

But wait! There’s more! Some of the Forrester analysts have personal blogs where they post significant commentary as well. So we are including the personal blogs as well.

While our research was mainly to find names for the directory, we did gather up some other interesting tid-bits about the blogs as well.

Contributors – Most of the blogs have Continue reading

Observations from updating the various SageCircle directories

icon-social-media-blue.jpgThis weekend we spent considerable hours updating the SageCircle directories. This exercise always generates interesting insights such as: 

Analyst  Twitter Directory – 46 additions, 4 updates. Change can come quite quickly. The IDC Financial Insights team members decided to put more emphasis on Twitter as part of an overall plan to increase their visibility. This resulted in seven analysts starting to use Twitter in just a couple of weeks. Take away – Keep your fingers on the pulse of your analysts’ usage of social media, because changes come quickly.

AR Twitter Directory – 34 additions, 6 updates. Members of the AR community continue to adopt Twitter in a steady fashion. However, AR is still underrepresented on Twitter and members of the community are missing out on a great tool for understanding the analysts and their priorities. Take away – AR professionals not on Twitter need to take the plunge and add Twitter to their communications toolbox. Even if their analysts are not heavy users of Twitter, early adopters develop skills that permit them to react quickly to changes in social media usage.

AR Contractors Directory – 9 additions. There are now a number of interesting AR contractors in the directory. The presence of contractors gives AR managers useful alternatives to Continue reading

What AR should blog about – common questions

icon-social-media-blue.jpgA frequent comment that SageCircle gets when discussing AR blogs with AR managers is “But I don’t have anything to write about.” Horsefeathers! Not surprising, we think there is a nearly infinite number of interesting, useful topics to discuss. Some topics just fall in your lap, making it really easy to whip up a quick post.

Harkening back to what Mike Braude, one of my many research mentors early in my Gartner analyst career, use to say “If you get the same question twice, write a research note” – in this case, if you get a similar question from different analysts, write a blog post. These are great subjects because obviously there is a lack of knowledge or confusion about the topic, thus they rank high on the usefulness scale. The answers should also be easy to Continue reading

How to track a lot of analyst blogs and Twitter streams without spending a lot of time

icon-social-media-blue.jpgOne of the side effects of the growing use of social media by IT industry analysts and analyst relations (AR) is a pending sense of doom that we are going to get overwhelmed by too… much… stuff. This certainly came out in discussions at the US Forrester AR Council panel I was on and in blog posts like When do we get work done? I certainly have felt that way in the past, but slowly and surely I have picked up techniques that permit me to monitor a fairly large number of social media streams (110+ blogs and 140+ Twitter streams) without spending hours a day doing so. In this post I will share these tips.

Note: These tip and tricks are not necessarily the absolutely best-in-class, merely ones that we have found to-date. Nor are the tools mentioned the results of systematic research and evaluation, merely ones that we have played with and decided to use. As we continue to expand the portfolio of tips and tools, we will make sure to share them with you.

The main tips are to use an RSS reader and to organize your feeds in folders*. This saves you the time of checking individual blogs that might not have any activity. The following example explains Continue reading

Published research is only the tip of the iceberg

By Carter Lusher, Strategist

One of the worst things that can happen to a vendor sales representative or a vendor executive is being blindsided by a piece of information that they did not know existed – but should have known. It makes them look uniformed and out of the loop, and can negatively impact the interaction they are currently conducting. Unfortunately for AR teams, industry analyst commentary is a prime source of “gotcha” moments for their companies’ sales representatives, CEOs, CFOs, and the PR staff.

It does not have to be that way. AR programs must work to monitor analyst opinions and commentary and provide relevant, near real-time actionable advice to impacted groups. Unfortunately, when it comes to monitoring analyst opinions, too many AR teams only capture published research notes and press quotes. As the graphic illustrates (click to enlarge), these two forms of analyst opinion are only the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of ways (see list below) that analyst opinions get into the marketplace with more being invented on a seemingly regular basis. 

The problems associated proliferating communications platforms are compounded by Continue reading

Analysts who blog versus Bloggers who analyze

icon-social-media-blue.jpgBy Carter Lusher, Strategist

Last week’s Forrester Analyst Relations Council Panel on “Analyst Relations 2.0″ was fun and interesting. There was quite a bit of diversity of opinion on the panel with KCG’s Bill Hopkins playing the self-described anti-blog/anti-Web 2.0 curmudgeon and Dana Gardner from Interarbor Solutions way on the other side playing the pro-social media fan. That left plenty of room in the middle for Jonathan Eunice from Illuminata, Forrester Senior Analyst James Kobielus and me to take a balanced approach. The moderator was Forrester VP Laura Ramos, who I count as a blog skeptic when it comes to blogging by analysts and vendors.

There was a fair amount of angst in the audience, with many AR professionals clearly wishing blogs would just go away, while others were open minded. Very few AR pros in attendence had embraced blogs personally or professionally. Many were clearly overwhelmed because of the sheer number and types of bloggers who could touch their companies.

While fun, there some something unsatisfying about the panel. One attendee e-mailed: “What struck me about the panel was it asked more questions than offering answers.” Hmm, good point. I tried to provide very specific advice (see Steps for AR teams for starting with analyst blogs), but I admit there was a lot of philosophical ramblings during the 100+ minutes of the panel. Upon reflection, I think the problem was that the panel was not asked to focus on a specific issue, rather we were given a topic that provoked entertaining discussion, but was too broad and fuzzy for hard recommendations.

Bowl of Spaghetti

Because “AR 2.0″ was clearly too broad, the organizer and moderator decided to narrow the discussion to “analyst blogs.” However, ever this re-definition of the panel topic was too broad because it encompassed the entire blogosphere. This led to panel discussion, audience questions and comments that touched on traditional analysts and bloggers without distinguishing between the type of influencer. In addition, the discussion occasionally drifted into whether AR teams and their companies should blog and Continue reading

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