Analysts can go around AR using social media

icon-social-media-blue.jpgWhen Analyst Relations Get Social is a short and interesting post by Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang (bio, Twitter handle) on the fact that analyst relations professionals should not consider themselves gatekeepers, but facilitators. On this, we at SageCircle completely agree. Frankly, the best AR programs have always had the facilitator attitude.

For those AR programs that still want to be gatekeepers, social media is making it harder and harder to maintain control of every interaction with the analysts. As Jeremiah points out:

 “…For example, I can easily tweet out “anyone in the sharepoint team have have a moment for some questions” and I’d suspect they’d quickly respond in seconds, whether or not the AR person was involved. …”

SageCircle Technique

  • AR programs that currently look at themselves as gatekeepers should reevaluate this position
  • AR needs to embrace social media then experiment and Continue reading

Analyze social media traffic of analysts to determine your workload

icon-social-media-blue.jpgA common issue that AR managers bring up when discussing why they currently don’t follow analysts on blogs and Twitter is that it would be too much work. Hmm, maybe it could be a lot of work, but really the reality is that it does not take much time per day tracking posts and tweets. Why? 

  • There are not many analysts in any particular market who use social media
  • Tools are available (e.g., RSS readers and Twitter Search) that make it easy and fast to track posts and tweets

Something that AR should do is work from facts and not assumptions so we recommend that AR managers conduct an analysis of their top analysts’ use of social media. This analysis should cover at least the previous three weeks to smooth out changes in usage due to travel, special events like analyst summits, holidays, and so on. Data to be gathered includes the number of blog posts for both firm and personal blogs and the overall number of tweets  

The analysis concentrates on the average number of social media publications per day. In the tests and beta client engagements of our new SageToolTM Analyst Social Media Traffic Analysis (see graphic) we found that most analyst lists only had a small percentage of analysts that actively used social media and that the volume of traffic was modest. Of course there are Continue reading

Announcing “Launching a Social Media Strategy: A SageCircle Workshop”

icon-social-media-blue.jpgSocial media is rapidly transitioning from being a playground for individuals to an important tool for business.  Some tools like blogging have been around for awhile, while others like Twitter are still emerging.  Regardless of the current start of the art, many hundreds of savvy analysts and AR professionals are using these and other tools to improve relationships, generate intelligence, and enhance conversations. 

There are many questions for AR about social media

Unfortunately questions for AR abound: Should AR teams blog and tweet?  Does AR have to track bloggers and Twitterers who are not traditional analysts?  How can you pick up responsibility for blogging and Twittering when resources are already stretched thin?  When and how do you incorporate analyst blogs and Tweets into analyst opinion monitoring programs.  And most important: How to get started?

To help AR professionals and teams take a strategic approach to dealing with the rapidly changing social media usage by members of the analyst ecosystem, SageCircle is announcing a new public half-day workshop focused on how to incorporate social media into AR’s daily routine and toolbox.

Key Issues to be addressed in this workshop include:

  • What are the roles of social media in the analyst ecosystem?
  • How should social media be incorporated into AR’s strategic and tactical plan?
  • What are the policy implications of adopting blogging and Twitter?
  • How do social media get incorporated into AR measurement and reporting programs?

Get Up to Speed Quickly

In this SageCircle AR Workshop, we provide AR professionals with Continue reading

Gartner analyst gets grumpy in Twitter for a good reason

french-caldwell-being-a-little-testy-v-3Recently Gartner Research VP French Caldwell (bio, blog, Twitter) grumbled a little bit in Twitter about poor AR practices by vendors he covers in the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Governance, Risk and Compliance Platforms

This little tid-bit illustrates that analysts expect vendors to proactively reach out to them (for more background see SageCircle’s Hierarchy of Analyst Needs). If a vendor does not actively brief the analyst, then in the analyst’s mind the vendor gets what they deserve, whether a poor rating in research or even dropped all together from a research report. This research downgrade could have a direct impact on lead generation and sales as technology buyers (aka end users, typically IT managers for Gartner) often ignore vendors not ranked well in Magic Quadrants or other research. This is especially true when a competitor’s sales representative brings the vendor’s downgrade to the attention of a prospect.

Another point this incident illustrates is that analysts are using social media to discuss their research agenda and make their displeasure about vendor performance known. Vendors that are not monitoring analyst commentary in tweets or blog posts could be missing important data points.

SageCircle Technique:

  • AR programs need to use a mix of interactions throughout the year to maintain top-of-mind presence with the analysts and ensure they are up-to-date on the vendor’s capabilities and differentiation
  • AR programs should have an active plan for influencing all recurring signature research such as Gartner Magic Quadrants or Forrester Waves
  • AR programs need to monitor analyst commentary in social media. This will not necessarily require significant work as the volume of analyst blogs and tweets is still relatively small for any particular market

Bottom Line: While vendor executives like to complain that the analysts need to “do their jobs” by proactively reaching out to request updates, the reality is that vendors need to be the ones doing the outreach.

Question: AR programs – If you are on a Magic Quadrant or Forrester Wave, why do you not periodically brief the analyst?

Checklist of simple tips for AR starting with Twitter

icon-social-media-blue.jpgMore and more analyst relations (AR) professionals are joining Twitter and following analysts. In fact, there are over 315 entries in the AR Twitter Directory with more being added every week. Here are some quick tips for AR professionals new to Twitter. 

SageCircle Technique:

  1. Unprotect your updates so that people can easily follow you (Settings/Account/checkbox “Protect my updates”)
  2. Upload an avatar. 48×48 pixels. It can be photo, logo, cartoon, etc. (Settings/Picture)
  3. Put something in your One Line Bio. 160 characters. Include your company name and job, e.g., analyst relations (Settings/Account/data entry box “One Line Bio:”)
  4. Cross check your Tier 1 and 2 analysts against the Analyst TwitterDirectory and be sure you follow relevant analysts
  5. Review the AR TwitterDirectory for peers to follow
  6. Download Tweetdeck, a Twitter desktop client, and set up a group for the analysts you are following
  7. Go to Twitter Search, put in a search term (e.g., your company name) and bookmark it
  8. Add starting up Tweetdeck and Twitter Search to your regular Continue reading

Why analysts need to be more measured in their use of social media

icon-social-media-blue.jpgSageCircle recently posted about the how the lack of any review cycle by either vendors or the firms themselves allows for very timely social media postings on blogs or on twitter, but can represent a real challenge to AR teams, especially those that are not actively watching social media.  We thought it was obvious that the need for analysts validating content was a given.  However, in the past weeks we have encountered several instances where analysts appear to have made opinion statements based on rumor without checking facts.  In the rush to publish they have not been doing their due diligence or the vendor AR teams have not been responsive to the analyst request for information.  Please note this is not a common problem and we hope it does not grow.

This speculative type of behavior can be damaging to both large and small vendors – and it certainly kicks-off multiple unnecessary “recovery” or “damage control” cycles when the analyst could/should have just picked up the phone and asked them a question before posting or rushing to be the first to tweet.  The stories you are about to hear are real…. we have changed the names to protect the guilty.

In one situation some tweets expressed concern about the financial viability of a small company.  An influential analyst posted “I’ve been hearing there’s a lot of changes going on at <company>, if you’re a customer and this has impacted you, I want to know, email me”.  The flurry of activity resulted in a blog post suggesting that people hold off purchases.  After understanding all this was unfounded there was a “retraction”, but the company is still in damage control model.

In another situation, the Twitter post was “Hearing from <company> customers that there are new clauses that will force customers to commit to no Third Party Maintenance.”  This Twitter post was a specific callout implicating the company (in Twitter he even tied them specifically to anti-trust implications as a result of this speculation – which obviously was/is a VERY Continue reading

The Analyst Twitter Directory is one year old!

icon-social-media-blue.jpgToday is the one year anniversary of SageCircle’s Analyst Twitter Directory. The first listing had 26 analysts from 13 firms, both boutiques and large firms. Many wondered how long before this fad faded away.

Far from being a dying fad, Twitter is transitioning to a regular communications tool for analysts and AR. Today the directory stands at 453 entries with 34 analysts added on Monday’s update alone. All the analysts who were on the original list are still twittering today, even if they are now former analysts. Analysts who were caught in the recent rounds of layoffs are using Twitter as a marketing and research tool as they hang out their own shingle. Analysts at the largest walled garden firms (Forrester, Gartner and IDC) have embraced Twitter with 202 entries in the directory, increasing the value of their personal brands. However, single practitioners and boutiques are leveling the playing field by being some of the most aggressive users of Twitter to increase their visibility.

The AR Twitter Directory is growing as well, from 52 entries when it launched on July 23, 2009 to 301 entries today. While AR professionals have been more tentative than analysts when it comes to using Twitter, savvy AR pros are making excellent strategic and tactical use of this tool.

Why aren’t you on Twitter yet?

If there is a conversation going on, can you afford not Continue reading

Know when your analysts are likely on Twitter with Tweetstats

icon-social-media-blue.jpgOne of the great things about social media and Twitter in particular is that they give you permission to interact with analysts outside of the normal channels. This can be a powerful tool for staying top-of-mind because as former Gartner and AMD analyst Jonathan Yarmis tweeted: “vendors who interact with me on twitter get me multiple times/DAY, everyone else multiple times/month or year”. 

While you can tweet an analyst in an asynchronous fashion, it is even more powerful if you exchange tweets in real time. A great tool to understanding a person’s pattern for when they usually tweet is Tweetstats.

Tweetstats is a free tool that is simple to use because all you have to do is enter someone’s Twitter handle and hit [enter]. After a couple of minutes it returns a number of graphs that analyze the person’s twittering by date and time. Within this context it is the Tweet Density that you should look at because it shows when the person tweets by hour and day of week. Here are two examples:

Example A:
 Tweetstats - Tweet Density - example A

Example B: Continue reading

An update on Twitter and the industry analysts – activity grows

icon-social-media-blue.jpgWith industry analysts continuing to sign up for Twitter handles – we have added 67 names in last two weeks – we thought it was time to do a quick refresher on how analysts are using Twitter.

A significant example you should read is Gartner analyst Jeffrey Mann discussing why he uses Twitter in his blog post Why I Tweet. In a very short post, Jeff covers a lot of ground in terms of the value he gets from Twitter. Here is a killer extract from that post: “I have used it to test out ideas that eventually make their way into this blog or my more formal research notes.” Hmm, that says to me that any AR team that deals with Jeffrey needs to part of that conversation.  How many other analysts are doing the same thing?  Have you done an inquiry with your key analysts?

 Listed below are some tweets that we believe illustrate well the different uses of Twitter by the analysts. Each shows the value of AR teams being on Twitter and following analysts.

 EXAMPLE: Analyst discussing customer information after I tweeted a question to his comment about the customer presentations at a vendor event. This shows a quick and easy dialog finding out what sort of information the analyst prefers

 rwang0 Hearing some very industry specific and solution focused customer presentations at the Progress Software event

rwang0 @carterlusher customers who present their problem, how the tech addressed the solution, & what was the business and tech benefits are best

EXAMPLE: Journalist asking analyst about a vendor announcement. This could signal that the journalist might have a formal interview with the analyst later. Continue reading

IDC’s Mike Fauscette on his usage of social media as an analyst

icon-social-media-blue.jpgMike dropped by the analyst and AR meet up that SageCircle hosted on Monday, January 12, 2009 in the Silicon Valley. We asked Mike (blog, Twitter handle) to explain how he uses social media in his job.

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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

Forrester’s Ray Wang on analyst usage of social media

icon-social-media-blue.jpgRay dropped by the analyst and AR meet up that SageCircle hosted on Monday, January 12, 2009 in the Silicon Valley. We asked Ray (blog, Twitter handle) to explain how he uses social media in his job.

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Directories Updates – Gartner Blog Network, Twitter and Contractors

There have been some updates to the various directories that SageCircle maintains for the analyst ecosystem. 

SageCircle Technique:

  • Keep SageCircle up-to-date on changes to any of the directories

Kudos for the Oracle AR about analyst support at OpenWorld

Nice gesture by Forrester’s Merv Adrian (bio, Twitter handle, no blog) to give a shout out to the Oracle AR team.

There is also a serious message here for all AR teams planning an analyst event — don’t try and cut off the analysts from the Internet. While you might want them to Continue reading

Get onboard the AR social media train

Gartner ups the ante on analyst blogging – maybe 50 new bloggers

icon-social-media-blue.jpg

Update 9/15/08 10:30 am PT: Gartner launched the Gartner Blog Network today with 47 analyst blogs (though not all have posted their first post yet). You can find a link and a list of blogs in this post Announcing “Introduction to Blogging for AR,” a special SageCircle webinar

Update 9/12/08 1:43 pm PT: Gartner analyst Andrew Frank (via Twitter) gives us some detail about the launch of the new Gartner blog network: “stay tuned for details from next week’s Web Innovation conference in LA

It took a Forrester analyst (Jeremiah Owyang naturally, first in a tweet and later in a blog post) to give the analyst ecosystem the heads up about an interesting change in policy at Gartner.

Gartner’s Gene Phifer in a blog post about virtualization dropped this intriguing piece of information:

“…Now that Gartner has adopted a Web participation policy for its analyst community, I am allowed to join the blogosphere.  It’s about time! …” 

Later in a response to comments, Gene added in a comment:

“Thanks to all for the welcome aboard. Several of us have been chomping at the bit to get out into the blogosphere. Stay tuned–the last I heard about 50 Gartner analysts will be joining me.

We are still working out some logistical details, so don’t be surprised if we have some sputters at first. For example, I hear that I may be moving my blog to another site. But the good news is that we are now blogging, and you will soon see a large number of Gartner analysts with their own blogs.”

50 more blogging Gartner analysts! This is both great news and scary news for analyst relations (AR) professionals. This is potentially great news because Continue reading

Why is it that more analyst blogging is better?

This morning I got an interesting tweet from Forrester analyst John Rymer (bio, Twitter handle): 

            “@carterlusher why is more analysts blogging better?”

icon-social-media-blue.jpgJohn was responding to my reply to a comment (“Good news, Gartner is allowing analysts to blog @carterlusher will be thrilled”) by Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang (bio, blog, Twitter handle).  This comment pointed out Gartner analyst Gene Phifer’s (bio, blog, Twitter handle) post about how Gartner analysts are now permitted to have a personal-branded blog. I don’t know if I was thrilled, but I did say “Excellent, the more analysts blogging the better.” Thus, John’s question.

Hmm, that is a good question. My initial thought was “well of course it’s better because blogging is good.” It took me about two seconds to discard that answer as glib and dumb. The real answer is Continue reading

How to manufacture a “problem analyst”

After promoting the Dealing with Problem Analysts webinar (September 17th at 8:30 am PT and 4 pm PT) on Twitter, I got the following tweet from Martin Atherton (profile, Twitter handle) of Freeform Dynamics:

 

The tweet was good for a chuckle, but it got me thinking. Martin has great points, but what he brought up were just AR best practices* not true problems. However, it sparked a thought that vendors could “manufacture” a problem analyst. Here are some “worst practices” that AR should consider avoiding:

  • Complaining about perceived bias without offering measureable proof
  • Demanding changes to draft or published research without Continue reading

Q&A from SageCircle’s “Introduction to Twitter for AR” webinar – Firm handles, retweet, protocols and more

icon-social-media-blue.jpgAt the four sessions of the “Introduction to Twitter for AR” webinar held in August, there were some interesting questions that came up. Here are answers to some of the questions.

Shameless Marketing – If you missed the webinar, you can schedule a SageCircle “AR Briefing” on Twitter for you and your colleagues. Click here for a brochure or contact us at 650-274-8309 for more information.

Q: What about firms that follow you? Do you recommend letting them follow you? (e.g., Gartner)

A: Firm handles (e.g., @forrester, @Gartner_inc and @the451group) are typically used to promote the firm. For example, @the451group is used to announce research note publications and @Gartner_inc is used by the Gartner PR team as a press release wire. @forrester is often used at Forrester events to facilitate info to attendees and accept questions during sessions. There is little or no downside to letting them follow you. On the other hand, you should carefully consider whether you should follow them. Because they are marketing tools, they could add clutter to your timeline without necessarily giving you useful information.

Q: Why retweet? To pass along a tweet to others?

A: Retweets are used for a couple of purposes. One is to give your reply some context by including Continue reading

Announcing “Introduction to Twitter,” a special SageCircle webinar

After we sent out the email last week about the AR Twitter Directory, we received a great response from tweeting AR professionals that wanted to be added to the directory and page views were quite high. However, we also got a lot of emails along with comments like: 

            “I only have a vague notion of what twitter is!”

            “I’m thinking about trying out Twitter soon”

            “Would like to, but how do I get started?”

            “How do I find the time?”

            “I’m a bit skeptical about it …”

            “…unfortunately I am not hip to the Twitter scene yet …”

There are over 120 analysts in the Analyst Twitter Directory with new names being added weekly. So if some of your top analysts are on Twitter, shouldn’t you be on Twitter as well?  To help out AR professionals and teams get started with Twitter, SageCircle is announcing a new public webinar focused on using and understanding this bleeding edge form of communication.

In this SageCircle AR Webinar, we will provide you with succinct and actionable information that will help you get up-to-speed on Twitter as a user, and help you understand the implications for AR. The agenda for the 90-minute session includes:

  1. What is micro-blogging and Twitter
  2. How are analysts and AR professionals using Twitter
  3. Getting started on Twitter
  4. Tips on being an efficient Twitter user
  5. Setting up an 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

Redmonk TV interviews IBM’s John Simonds on using social media for AR

In John Simonds on Twitter, blogs, & tags in Analyst Relations Redmonk analyst Michael Coté (Twitter, blog) interviews IBM analyst relations manager John Simonds (Twitter, blog) on how John uses social media for his AR work. Interesting and well worth watching.

Tip: If the video stops/starts and is jerky, hit the pause button. It will continue to stream in the background. Then, in a couple of minutes, you can hit play for uninterrupted viewing.

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

Random notes on Twitter

icon-social-media-blue.jpgThe Analyst Twitter Directory is now up to 60 entries with more analysts added every week. It is interesting that this is one of the most visited pages on the SageCircle blog.

Edelman’s Jonny Bentwood (Twitter) has done another crackerjack piece of research with Top analyst twitters / micro-bloggers. He has come up with an interesting framework to rank the analysts who use Twitter. The criteria are:

  • Followers – the number of followers each analyst has
  • Updates – frequency of updates
  • Conversation- how many Continue reading

Social media should not be a “special” activity for AR, just part of the overall AR plan

icon-social-media-blue.jpgYou do have an AR plan, don’t you?

Your strategic AR plan, the one with the charter and objectives, lists of all interactions types to be used for each purpose, service levels by analyst tier, calendar and priorities?

Ok, unfair question as many AR teams are so under the gun that a plan is often considered a luxury. The main point is that social media (e.g., blogs, Twitter, podcasts, wikis and so on) should not be considered something big and special, but merely just more forms of interactions to add to the mix.

Obviously, the various types of social media are still new to many individuals and AR teams. As a consequence, there is a learning curve to climb and a process you will need to go through to adopt these new forms of interactions. However, social media are not “special,” just like e-mail is not special. Oh, those folks that have been around for awhile will no doubt remember when there was heated debate whether e-mail was an appropriate form of interaction with analysts.

SageCircle Technique:

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