Answering “10 Questions Analyst Relations Have on Social Media” Part 1

icon-social-media-blue.jpgRecently Jeremiah Owyang (bio, Twitter handle), a Forrester analyst that covers social media, spoke to a group of AR and PR professionals at a large vendor in the Silicon Valley about the use of social media. Of course, Jeremiah being Jeremiah, he blogged about the meeting in 10 Questions Analyst Relations Have About Social Media. The post is interesting in that Jeremiah did not try to answer the questions he recorded, so SageCircle is going to provide our take on the answers. 

Some of the questions are addressed to “influencers,” not necessarily only analysts. For our answers we are going to focus on the industry analysts, thought SageCircle does think a lot about the broader influencer landscape (e.g., see Fog of Influence).

  1. Is social media a medium to influence the influencers? Yes, but “influencing” is too narrow an approach. Social media can be great tools for engaging analysts, educating them on important issues, building personal relationships, getting feedback from analysts, and so on. AR teams need to think less that social media is something “special” and more that it is just part of the overall communications toolbox to be used where appropriate depending on the specific task and analyst.
  2. Are influencers impacted by social media usage of clients, vendors, and media? This depends on the analyst. Some are ignoring the whole social media phenomena because they think it is a passing fad, not relevant to their clients, or does not fit into their personal work style. Was the Internet an important medium to all analysts in the late 90’s? Others – and not just social medial analysts like Jeremiah – use some types of social media extensively. What is critical for AR teams is understand is that any analyst could be using social media regardless of firm, age, or market coverage. As a consequence, AR teams need to be talking to their top analysts about their social media usage. AR can then tailor a flexible approach to social media that is appropriate to their environment – remember, your mileage may vary.
  3. Now that many are creating their own messages is message control realistic? Frankly, most vendors had poor control of their messages before social media hit the scene. The industry analysts, especially ones with large end user client bases like Gartner, are well situated to notice message inconsistencies because they speak to many different players in a market. Now social media like blogs and Twitter offers savvy analysts new ways to find what vendor staff are saying. This provides them insights into a company’s true intentions and ability to execute. What a vendor messaging team – which AR should be part of – has to concentrate on is message management not control. For example, the messaging team should be educating colleagues who use social media on what are the official messages, how to incorporate official messages without compromising their personal points-of-view, and how to provide feedback to the messaging team when a member of their community comments on the company.
  4. Can AR and PR benefit from listening to social media? Absolutely. AR teams can get valuable insights into what analysts are working on, which vendors they are getting briefed by, where they are traveling to, what the analysts’ opinions are, and more. Because there are relatively few analysts in any particular market using social media the process of listening to analysts via social media requires minimal incremental work.
  5. Can AR and PR benefit from using social media to talk? Absolutely. Most analysts who are on social media are there because they want the conversation. For example, some analysts use their blogs as an active idea development/research tool. For them the whole point is to get input from a wide variety of readers. If AR is not participating in these online conversations then they run the risk of others – such as competitors – having a disproportionate influence on the eventual published research.

     The following questions are addressed in Part 2 (click to read):
  6. How do AR folks, who are traditionally accustomed to deep, often in person relationships benefit from this?
  7. Does this really mean more work for me?
  8. If our competitors use this, do they have a leg up on us?
  9. How to we quantify the ROI of our efforts?
  10. Leave a comment if you’ve got a point of contention?

Related SageCircle posts

There are many more posts available on this topic that you can find by clicking on the Social Media category in the left hand navigation menu of the SageCircle blog.

Bottom Line: Because social media is still very much an emerging issue, AR teams need to start identifying the questions that they, their “R” colleagues (e.g., PR) and executives have about the relevance and application of these new forms of communication and community. By systematically listing out the questions, doing the research, and getting advice from experts like SageCircle or social media analysts (e.g., Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang or AMR’s Jonathan Yarmis) AR can quickly cut through the hype to a productive use of social media.

Question: What are your questions about AR? Were they covered by Jeremiah’s list of 10 or do you have additional ones?

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