Why Social Media Can Represent a Real Challenge to AR Teams

icon-social-media-blue.jpgSageCircle has previously commented on the growing importance of social media in the analyst relations ecosystem and the need for teams to become engaged.  The growth in blogs and the increasing use of twitter provide a method for analysts to broadcast their opinions without the “filtering” and “editorial restrictions” that are part of standard research reports.  The lack of any review cycle by either vendors or the firms themselves allows for very timely posting, but can represent a real challenge to AR teams. 

Last week Cisco announced an acquisition that quickly prompted several divergent analyst opinions, which could also have benefited from some proofreading.

  • Van Baker posted rather negative commentary on his Gartner Blog Network blog closing with “While the purchase may be pocket change for Cisco it is still likely to be wasted money for Cisco.(sic)”  He noted his post on twitter which certainly drove traffic to the blog post.
  • Joshua Martin posted a speculative but generally positive post on his Yankee Group Blog stating “This scenario is all well and good. It will improve the value of Cisco’s devices while promoting it’s (sic) ecosystem.”
  • Mike Gotta of Burton Group posted a somewhat negative report on his personal branded blog (not Burton Group) that was later updated to a rather positive position because of a twitter comment he received. The comment was not from Cisco.
  • A day later Ted Schadler of Forrester authored a relatively positive post (and then corrected his typo) saying “It wasn’t a surprise to see networking expansionist Cisco buying Flip”

Now this is not to single out Cisco, but it was a recent example of things we have seen repeatedly.  All this blog activity was done within hours and without the filtering of the “research process” or the scrutiny of the firms’ Editorial departments.  So how should an AR team react? 

Several important best practice process steps come to mind:

  • Know the analysts in your market that use social media regularly and ensure they have the company position and key messages the moment the news breaks. These analysts, unlike their non-social media using colleagues, are likely to “shoot from the hip” in order to get something posted quickly and won’t give you a call for details. Give them the sound bites you want them to release.
  • Know the commentary the moment it occurs. Have alerts and feeds that inform you when your analysts, your products, or your competitors are mentioned in social media as well as traditional research.
  • Know your AR team policy for commenting on blogs or twitter. Can you quickly post a response that corrects inaccurate statements or counters uniformed opinion? How is this stated in your AR Strategic and Tactical plan?
  • Track social media as part of your analyst perception trends metrics. Unfiltered social media might closely approximate the verbal commentary analysts are providing during client inquiry where it is having revenue impacts.

SageCircle Technique:

  • AR teams need to include social media in their AR strategic and tactical plan
  • AR teams need to establish RSS feeds that alert them to social media commentary in their markets
  • M&A activity often catches AR teams by surprise unless they work constantly to be part of the strategic process.

Bottom Line: AR teams need to place an appropriate amount of effort into learning and using social media and tracking its use by their most influential analysts.

Question: AR teams:  How do you get alerts to relevant social media posts?  Do you have a policy for commenting?  Analysts:  How would you like AR teams to inform you if they see inaccurate statements that have influenced your opinions?

Do you need to create an AR strategic and tactical plan that incorporates social media? Are you thinking about experimenting with social media? SageCircle can Help – Social media represents new opportunities and challenges to AR teams. SageCircle can help AR teams by:

  • Saving time – while you can learn about Twitter through trial-and-error and reading articles, SageCircle’s AR Briefing: Twitter for AR can get you up-to-speed in a fraction of the time
  • Providing on-site or distance learning sessions to get AR teams up to speed on social media and how it might be adopted
  • Acting as a sounding board as you brainstorm how to add social media to your AR tool box
  • Advising on how to develop a pilot program to experiment with social media
  • Playing the role of analyst in social media experiments and providing critiques of how the experiment went
  • Through our AR Plan Builder workshop, strategists can help create AR plans that incorporate social media

Call 503-636-1500 or e-mail info (at) sagecircle dot com for more information. Also follow Carter’s commentary www.twitter.com/carterlusher and Dave’s at www.twitter.com/daveeckert to get a feel for how information is now being transmitted using micro-blogging.


  1. Your technique #3 about getting AR involved in the strategic process during M&A is hugely important, especially when the synergies between the two companies (and the analysts covering them) are not so readily apparent as in the case of Cisco and Flip.

    Even though Baker at Gartner is located right in Cisco’s backyard, I’m not sure he’s someone that theyregularly interact with nor track, which makes it even more challenging for AR as the company branches out into new markets…

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