There is an interesting blog post by Redmonk analyst James Governor on Industry analyst relations and Twitter: The Dark Side and a related one by Marketing Strategies for IT Vendors analyst Merv Adrian AR: Tiering Analysts Is Good, But Don’t Play Childish Games. These posts bring up several issues (e.g., tiering analyst lists, confidentiality, and transparency), but the one we want to address in this post is the issue of analysts tweeting about planned vendor briefings and how some AR professionals would prefer analysts not to do so.
Both Merv (“But this “pssst…don’t tell anyone we’re talking” thing is something else entirely. It smacks of gamesmanship…”) and James (“The first rule of vendor briefings is… don’t talk about vendor briefings. That is just crazy.”) do not like the idea of being asked not to tweet about an upcoming vendor briefing. To a certain extent they have a point. Being asked not to tweet runs counter to the whole ethos of social media and sharing information. However, some analysts are using their tweeting as a marketing tool by in essence saying “See how important I am? I am getting briefed by Acme Software! Don’t you want to brief me too?”
While we see the analysts’ perspective, these and other analysts with the same opinion are not looking at from the vendor’s point-of-view. Knowing that a vendor is briefing an analyst provides AR at a competitor with valuable competitive intelligence. In fact, harvesting useful intelligence about what a competitor is doing with the analysts is one of the reasons SageCircle teaches vendors why AR teams need to be on Twitter and other forms of social media. However, there is an underlying tension with wanting information about your competitor, but not having information about your activities publicly disseminated.
So in this brave new world there are implications for both AR and analysts.
Analyst relations – Get over it. The Twitter genie is out of the bottle and there is no way to stuff that critter back. AR needs to adapt to the changed environment by deciding how to deal with some analysts desire to tweet. If all the analyst is doing is tweeting or blogging about the fact that a briefing is taking place, but not releasing confidential information, then that might be something tolerated… if done by a highly relevant analyst. If this activity is done by a less relevant analyst, then AR has to decide if the analyst should even receive advanced briefings or wait until the day of an announcement to inform them. AR teams need to develop a formal policy governing what is, and what is not, tolerable so as not to act arbitrarily.
Analysts – Tweet all you want… but don’t complain if some vendors decide that it is not their interest to provide you with advanced briefings. Analysts will need to realize that the vendor is not punishing them, but only wanting to keep certain information out of the public domain. Analysts need to decide what is the business value of background briefings and whether occasionally not tweeting about a briefing is in their best interest.
- AR should to develop a flexible social media policy and update it on a regular basis as technologies and attitudes evolve
- AR should revisit their analyst list management framework– or create one– to incorporate social media traffic and use patterns into the “visibility” and “trustworthiness” criteria
- AR needs to educate executive sponsors and other internal stakeholders about the social media patterns of analysts about to be briefed and modify the briefing goals and content appropriately
Bottom Line: As social media evolves both analysts and AR need to show flexibility. By understanding the other party’s concerns there should be a way to reach a reasonable compromise.
Question: AR – Do you have examples of analyst tweeting that caused you problems with your executives or other stakeholders?