Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Social media’ Category

Why LinkedIn is now more important than Twitter for tech analysts in APJ

While LinkedIn has long been popular with tech industry analysts in Asia/Pacific for some types of social media engagement, it has recently bypassed Twitter as the preferred platform for just about everything, as analysts focus more on how effective each platform is for engaging with their specific audiences.

It’s not to say that analysts have fallen out of love with Twitter – that’s certainly not the case – but it seems that they are less infatuated than they were. They are spending more time with their old flame, LinkedIn, and their new dalliance – a little surprisingly – is YouTube.

Why this has happened makes for some interesting discussion, and I’ll get to that a little further on.

First, some context around these conclusions

For the past 10 years, Intelligen has conducted a survey of industry analysts in APJ, primarily focused on analyst perceptions of specific vendor AR programs, but also exploring analyst preferences and attitudes on a range of issues. The most recent iteration of our Understanding the Influencers study was conducted in late 2012, and yielded responses from 132 analysts at 19 firms in 10 countries, overlaid with 20 in-depth qualitative interviews with senior analysts.

For the past two years, we’ve asked some specific questions about analyst use of social media, so we now have some comparative data to analyse. In short, we asked analysts to tell us whether they use key social media platforms for research and promotion “often”, “sometimes”, “rarely” or “never”. For simplicity’s sake, we equate the aggregate of “often” and “sometimes” to “regular” usage.

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.

The 2011 results were discussed in detail in this blog post, but in summary what we found was interesting and relatively unsurprising, confirming what we knew anecdotally. Nearly all analysts were using some form of social media, but fewer of them were using SM “regularly”, with analysts in India the greatest proponents. For research, analysts preferred LinkedIn & blogs over Twitter, while for promotion, analysts preferred Twitter over LinkedIn.

What’s changed in 2012?

When we compare the 2012 results with 2011, we can see that the usage patterns are fairly similar, whether we view them from a geographic or platform perspective. As there was a significant correlation between the response sample in both years, this gives us confidence that the differences are fairly real, not a result of sample differences.

Social media use 2012In the case of the research results, there is a very strong correlation between 2011 and 2012, with a couple of minor variances. What is interesting is that the percentage of analysts using LinkedIn for research has increased slightly, while use of blogs & Twitter dropped at a similar rate, and use of YouTube increased sharply (although the volumes are lower).

From a promotion perspective, use of LinkedIn decreased slightly, but the decline in use of Twitter and blogs was much greater, meaning that more analysts are now using LinkedIn for promotion than Twitter. LinkedIn is the preferred platform for promotion in India and Greater China, while analysts in Australia use both LinkedIn & Twitter equally, and ASEAN analysts still have a slight preference for Twitter.

So not only is LinkedIn the preferred platform among APJ analysts for both research and promotion, but Twitter is now used by more analysts for research than for promotion. The delta between research and promotion use has grown – analysts are now more focused on gathering information via social media than just pushing out their opinions.

Why is this so?

There is a strong likelihood that LinkedIn’s decision to stop supporting Twitter last year has changed analyst behaviour – analysts who were previously posting to LinkedIn via their Twitter accounts are now using LinkedIn as a primary platform, often pushing updates out to Twitter. But many analysts are still using these platforms separately.

What has taken place over the past couple of years is a better understanding among analysts of these platforms, and which ones yield the best results – and it has a lot to do with audience.

Research use 2012For analysts, Twitter undoubtedly has many benefits. It is quick, it is real-time, and through the use of hashtags, retweets & searches it allows analysts to reach people they couldn’t otherwise even identify. But engagement is relatively casual & ill-defined, and there continue to be doubts about how influential it is in enterprise B2B purchasing decisions – this post from Influencer Marketing Review last week provides some interesting insights into how sheer volume of tweets has a very limited relationship with influence over enterprise software buyers.

LinkedIn is more “formal”, but it has the advantage of a known audience. LinkedIn members have detailed public profiles which allow analysts to determine how relevant they are to their research areas (and assess credibility), connections are made in a more structured way, and discussion groups bring like-minded individuals together in generally more substantial conversations.

Both platforms have something to offer analysts and will continue to do so, but it’s hard to see how LinkedIn will not remain the partner of choice. Analysts are focused on depth, detail, specifics & context, and that’s what they get through LinkedIn. But analysts are also opportunistic and self-promoters, so they’re not going to walk away from Twitter any time soon.

Personally, I find the increased uptake of YouTube just as interesting. Once upon a time, you could never have engaged the analyst community with video, but the fact is that they are watching more, and YouTube is an extremely simple & accessible platform. Done well, done smart & done in moderation, it has a lot to offer.

What does this mean for AR?

While we’ve seen changes in how analysts are using social media, the fundamentals from an AR perspective haven’t changed. When I wrote about this topic last year, I provided this advice to AR professionals, and I think the guidelines are pretty much the same.

But what do you think?

I’ve relied on both quantitative data and qualitative feedback to draw my conclusions, but what do you think? Social media is still an evolving area, so I’d be really interested to hear experiences from AR pros & analysts alike, plus answer any questions. Let me know – you know how to do it!



Constellation adds an Aussie analyst to lead digital marketing transformation

Constellation Research has added to its research portfolio with the appointment of an Australian digital media veteran to lead its coverage of digital marketing transformation, a new research theme which again shifts focus away from traditional IT purchasers and on to business buyers. And while it’s easy to look at this as a regional/local appointment, it’s really a global story.

Based in Sydney, Gavin Heaton was for five years the leader of social media engagement for SAP’s Premier Customer Network, a CEO peer group encompassing 300 of the software vendor’s most strategic global accounts – not surprisingly, few of these customers are located in the southern hemisphere.

Heaton has an extensive IT and marketing background, having worked with IBM Global Services and DMR Consulting, an Australian services firm acquired by Fujitsu, and then as director of interactive with marketing agency Creata, where he lead the global digital strategy for McDonalds.

He also walks the talk. Heaton is a prolific tweeter and blogger – his Servant Of Chaos blog is one of most-read business sites in Australia and a source of constantly-updated insights into what’s happening in social media, digital strategy and related business issues. He is also a passionate advocate of crowd-sourcing, micro-financing and other community-based, social media-enabled processes.

The appointment of a single analyst is not news in itself – this brings Constellation’s roster to just 13 – rather another data point in the ongoing discussion about the changing roles and focus of the analyst business. In the IIAR APJ Forum on new & emerging analyst firm business models a couple of weeks ago, Constellation founder Ray Wang talked about the firm’s focus away from traditional IT purchasers.

“We’re focused on business needs and business challenges – we’re not focused on technologies, or roles, or markets… we’re targeting people who are buying from the business side, not IT,” he said.

According to Constellation’s press release on the appointment of Heaton, his research will focus “on the changing role and expectations of CMOs, the fusion of marketing channels and change-driven marketing innovation, [and] expand Constellation’s ability to provide digital marketing research and advisory services to its early adopter clients worldwide.”

In a blog post discussing his new role, Heaton continued the theme of disruption in IT spending. “There is no doubt that we are seeing a dramatic shift in the role of marketing. Advertising is under pressure, social is changing our customer relationships and the consumerisation of IT is changing the way we do our work. There has never been so much change or opportunity…” he wrote.

From an AR perspective, this trend is a challenging one. While traditional analyst firms have fairly clearly focused on influencing purchasing through IT departments (or working directly with vendors), the business buyers are a little less obvious. Vendor salesforces don’t necessarily target business buyers – yes, some do, but many don’t – which makes aligning AR to sales a much tougher proposition.

Social media influence on enterprise IT buyers of any stripe is also still unresolved, but it’s a trend that AR pros cannot ignore. Once again, though, the level of focus that AR should apply to this channel is unresolved, and varies considerably depending on the product/solution portfolio.

It’s the speed of movement – not necessarily change – in this space that makes it both interesting and challenging. Current information and insight has more value than research published only a few months ago, but it doesn’t always make it more correct. (Though I must give Gavin Heaton a thumbs-up in that respect – his Twitter, LinkedIn and Servant of Chaos bios were all updated within hours – if not minutes – of this announcement).

It’s a bit lame not to come to a solid conclusion with a piece like this, but this is still an evolving space. AR pros need to watch, listen & learn and – picking up a few tips from the analysts driving the agenda here – engage outside the traditional IT purchasing silos.

And ask questions of these new firms and new analysts. And ask questions of your peers – that’s what these platforms are all about.



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.


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?


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.