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How are APJ analysts using social media?

Analysts have been using social media for years – that’s no secret. But understanding how analysts are using social media, which platforms they prefer, what they are actually doing and so on – these things are a little trickier. It’s the classic onion – the more layers you peel off, the more you discover, but the more questions you have…

Late last year – as part of our annual Understanding the Influencers study of analyst preferences – we asked a couple of specific questions about how analysts are using social media. While some of the results pretty much confirmed what we already knew, other insights that came out of the study really changed our thinking on using social media to engage with analysts.

I’ve delivered many of the findings from this study to our clients already, and also discussed the issue on an IIAR webinar last month, but it’s an interesting topic with many elements and angles, so I think it’s worthy of a broader discussion.

What are analysts using social media for?

Essentially, analyst use of social media can be allocated into two fairly broad categories – research and promotion. Within those categories, though, are a number of activities and approaches.

From a research perspective, analysts are using LinkedIn to search for subject matter experts (both users & vendors) and raise questions about user experiences in the many discussion groups; posting questions and testing hypotheses on Twitter; reading vendor and commentator blogs to gain insight into product and technology directions; watching YouTube videos to update on products, technologies and strategies; and many other ways of gathering information.

From a promotion perspective, analysts are posting links to research and events on Twitter and LinkedIn; earnestly expanding their networks on LinkedIn; building their personal brands through ongoing “news” commentary on Twitter; writing blogs which detail their research and/or opinions; and many other ways of raising their profile and building awareness of their capabilities.

Which analysts are using social media?

We asked analysts whether they used a range of social media platforms “never”, “rarely”, “sometimes” or “often”, and categorised those who answered “sometimes” or “often” as “regular” users. The survey covered 136 analysts of various levels of seniority at 20 different firms in 12 countries across the Asia/Pacific & Japan (APJ) region.

Only seven per cent of analysts in APJ never use any social media platform for research, and only 14 per cent never use social media for promotion. This suggests fairly high adoption, but not all analysts are using social media regularly, and few of them are using more than a couple of different platforms on a regular basis.

Overall, we found that analysts in India are the most prolific users of social media, both from a frequency perspective and in terms of the range of platforms. Analysts in ANZ and ASEAN have also adopted social media fairly extensively, but preferences vary considerably depending on the activity and objectives.

Analysts in Greater China and Japan have been less enthusiastic to embrace social media, though this is in part due to the fact that many of the leading platforms are predominantly English-language. And this is changing.

Which platforms are analysts using?

Across APJ, LinkedIn and blogs are the preferred platforms for research, with 61 per cent of analysts using LinkedIn regularly, and 60 per cent using blogs. Twitter is further behind at 45 per cent, while use of Facebook and YouTube is significantly lower. LinkedIn ranked as the top platform for research in India, ANZ and ASEAN.

For promotion, Twitter is the preferred platform – used regularly by 49 per cent of analysts in APJ and 59 per cent in ASEAN – but only just ahead of LinkedIn. Some 46 per cent of analysts in APJ use LinkedIn regularly for promotion, and this platform ranked highest in India and ANZ.

Interestingly, analysts in Japan were most likely to use Facebook for research and promotion, while in Greater China, “other” platforms such as Sina Weibo – the Chinese equivalent of Twitter – were seen as more relevant.

What does this mean from an AR perspective?

Lots.

But this post is already too long, so I’ll come back in the next couple of days to look at that in more detail. I’ll discuss some of the qualitative insights into why – and why not! – analysts are using social media, plus the key issues AR professionals should consider when developing a social media engagement strategy.

In the meantime, if you have other questions or comments, let me know – I look forward to your feedback.

Cheers,

Dave

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. John Brand #

    I continually see analyst relations programs measuring “influence” by the number of tweets or “mentions” in the media. Here’s where that goes wrong….I’m in a three day CIO event with 120 real CIOs (not CIOs direct reports or equivalents).

    Do I tweet once because I’m at the event?
    Do I tweet 120 times, one for each attendee?
    Do I tweet 360 times (120 attendees multiplied by the three days that I’m there)?
    Or do I tweet for every conversation I have over every hour with each attendee?

    How many decisions are truly influencing the CIO (and therefore the rest of the executive) because someone manage to tweet an insightful comment in 140 characters?

    The relationships that are built that truly influence are not the same as the “connections” made by social media. So when you’re next asked to measure the effectiveness of your AR program by social media exposure, just make it clear that you’re not targeting the decision makers, you’re targeting the profile seekers.

    May 15, 2012
  2. Dave Noble #

    Hi John,

    Thanks for your comments. I absolutely agree with you, and in fact you’ve pre-empted my next post 🙂

    It’s pretty dangerous to use any volumetric measure (with no regard to value) as an indicator of influence – client enquiries and those CIO discussions you mention being the possible exceptions. And if any AR professionals are using raw tweet counts as a metric, I’d suggest they have a poor understanding of the nature of influence and how technology purchasing decisions are made.

    That said, social media is an engagement & communication tool, and the fact that it’s not necessarily a good indicator of influence shouldn’t exclude it from the AR professional’s toolbox. The analyst business is a broad church, and there are many analysts who enjoy engaging via various social media platforms, but I’d like to think that the majority of them are also smart enough to understand that volume of activity doesn’t equate to influence.

    At the end of the day, understanding how individual, influential analysts prefer to engage – and tailoring the approach accordingly – is the most important element of any successful AR program. If that includes social media, all well & good, but if it doesn’t, then I’d suggest that it would be fairly stupid to go down that path.

    A discussion for a future post perhaps? I’ll be providing some specific advice on how AR pros should use social media in my next post. Stay tuned!

    May 15, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. What’s the point of running an AR program if you’re not measuring the outcomes? | IntelligenAR
  2. Why LinkedIn is now more important than Twitter for tech analysts in APJ | IntelligenAR

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