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Analysts & social media – what should AR pros know?

In my last post, I discussed how APJ analysts are using social media to conduct research and promote their ideas and personal brands.

Understanding that is important, but for AR professionals, it’s more important to understand how to respond to that – how do you build social media into your analyst engagement process?

Analyst adoption of social media is enthusiastic, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s certainly not universal or consistent. Some of the most influential analysts in APJ are also the least interested in social media, so you shouldn’t assume that social media is a communication panacea.

So what should AR professionals be doing?

  • AR professionals need to assess the interests and needs of individual analysts in relation to their social media usage and preferences, just as you do when evaluating analyst influence – those analysts who are most active are also quite vocal about how they wish to engage.
  • Monitoring analyst commentary on social media platforms is an absolute minimum – knowing the types of questions analysts are asking and the types of comments they are making allows AR to intervene early to resolve issues or counter negative perspectives, which is a lot simpler than fighting fires after the fact.
  • Focus on the major platforms – LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs. While it is tempting to try to monitor and manage conversations on other platforms, the investment of time probably outweighs the value. That said, there may be opportunities to use other platforms for selected interactions.
  • Make it easy for analysts to engage with you via social media. Open a Twitter account to push information out, if appropriate, which will also allow you to follow what analysts are saying, and allow them to DM you if they wish. Adding a Twitter hashtag to any analyst summit or event is now standard practice, which not only lets analysts comment in real-time, it also lets you react quickly to negative sentiment.
  • Don’t get mesmerised by social media to the detriment of other communication channels. While social media use is not exclusive to the younger members of the analyst community – many older analysts are active devotees – it should be noted that many senior, buy-side analysts are not interested in using social media on a regular basis, so they will still need to be engaged by email and telephone.
  • Be aware of regional differences in usage patterns, as a universal approach will automatically disenfranchise some parts of the analyst community. While Sina Weibo is used more for personal microblogging than for business, it is now standard practice to deploy a Weibo hashtag at vendor events in China, so this is a great opportunity to engage with analysts and other influencers.
  • Think carefully about how you measure social media. There is no silver bullet in this area, and it’s certainly not just about the volume of tweets or LinkedIn questions. As Forrester analyst John Brand noted in response to my last post, there is no volume of tweets which can accurately reflect the value (and influence) of the direct conversations he might have with 120 CIOs over a three-day event. David Fine from Influencer50 also makes some great points in this post. AR professionals should look at the substance of the social media outputs as well as the audience, so measurement is likely to be subjective rather than quantitative

No doubt there are other things you could be doing to more effectively manage social media engagement with analysts, so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Social media is not new, but it’s still a learning experience.


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