Influencer marketing entails many aspects of public relations. Along these lines, CloudNine PR agency is sharing results of its bespoke study of how 300 IT chiefs in the UK prefer to access news and info about the IT industry. I’m quite surprised by 4 findings in particular: LinkedIn ties with vendor emails as a useful or very useful source for 31%; and Twitter and YouTube are on close to even footing as well for about 20%.
What methods do UK IT chiefs find ‘useful’ or ‘very useful’ for keeping up-to-date on IT industry developments, including general news from vendors? Here’s CloudNine PR’s take:
- Online publications 64%
- IT blogs 52%
- Trade shows 50%
- Printed publications 47%
- Vendor Events 44%
- IT Analyst blogs 40%
- IT analyst events 38%
- Vendor emails 31%, LinkedIn 31%
- Twitter 20%
- YouTube 19%
- Facebook 13%
- SlideShare 12%
About the study: CloudNine PR commissioned Vanson Bourne to conduct the survey. It consisted of a poll of IT decisionmakers, including CIOs, IT directors and IT managers in 300 UK companies. The sample included organisations with 50 to 250 employees, 251 to 1000 employees and over 1000 employees. There was an approximately equal split of companies operating in Financial services; Manufacturing; Retail, Transport and Distribution; and Business and Professional Services.
RedMonk’s James Governor offers the most intelligent view I’ve read in a very long time on blogging among the analysts. Here’s an excerpt from his excellent post:
We built RedMonk on social media. Its as simple as that. We had a good run on it through the late noughties. But honestly – the differentiator has been significantly eroded of late. One of our significant differentiators is now business as usual. Our competitors are just as fast to the news as us, if not faster, with solid analysis on either side of the firewall. Gartner and Forrester are both doing outstanding work in real time analysis. Seriously. And Gartner analysts are joining the conversation. - James Governor May 12, 2010
His observations are crucial for analysts, analyst relations and analyst watchers. Why? Gartner, Forrester Research and scores of analyst firms have successfully embedded blogging within their businesses. We’re long past the point where it makes sense to quantify analyst blogging as a discrete individual activity. Blogging is becoming integral to analyst business processes.
I’ve been actively monitoring analyst bloggers since 2003 and in 2005 launched the first directory and OPML of analyst-written blogs. The total number of blogs in early 2005: just over 50. I was committed to supporting those pioneering analyst bloggers. In those early days, the number of blogs — and the who’s who and how many — were factors in whether a given firm or analyst would jump into the fray. Not so today.
But even back then, the analyst community’s real focus was on how blogs fit with analyst business processes and policies. You can read a snapshot of their views in the original 2005 report. These are the topics that still deserve our attention. Even today.
Hats off to James for prodding us all take a fresh look at analyst blogs.
Here’s a great find: Gideon Gartner has started a new blog. Now, if we could just convince him to start a new research and advisory firm!
What’s up this week in influencer relations? Here’s what I’ve been talking about offline when the conversation rolls around to, “So what’s up? Anything I need to know?” This week the gossip has centered around analyst blogs, HP and Dell. Feel free to add your nuggets.
EDS = HP. HP retired the EDS brand this week. Time to update your influencer lists with the HP email and titles.
Perot Systems soon to = Dell. Get your head around what this M&A means if your company relies on referrals and such from Perot Systems.
Who owns blogs - analysts or the analyst house? Are analyst-written blogs more the property of the analyst house or the analyst? Consensus: depends on whether it’s a “company” blog. Some say negotiate social media content rights at the time of employment. Otherwise, personal blogs may be considered company IP at the point of departure.
Top analyst blogs. Jonny Bentwood is preparing to issue his Top 100 analyst league tables. Big backroom buzz is on whether there’s any shakeup at all in the top few. Most gossip is about whether or not Altimeter is an analyst company. I’m thinking the Gartner and Forrester blogs will make a difference, based on the employee base, media reach and Twitter penetration. Usual under-the-breath gripes about RedMonk standings. Stay tuned on that. Not by coincidence, I’m doing a massive Tekrati blog directory update. Buzz me this weekend if you’re feeling compelled.
Enterprise Mobility Matters turns 2. Congrat’s to Philippe Winthrop, today marking the 2-year milestone of his blog.
Phil Fersht soon leaving AMR Research. Carter Lusher broke the news on Twitter. Phil’s uber-smart on outsourcing, offshoring, nearshoring, you name it. Another analyst whose blog has transcended several jobs. I’m not sure there are any top-tier analyst firms that haven’t benefited from his expertise and network. So I’m guessing he’ll jump next to a different kind of gig.
Around mid-decade we went through a phase where corporations and agencies considered creating jobs such as “Manager, Blogger Relations”. Â To this day that makes a lot of sense if you happen to work for a company that provides blog software, blog design, blog hosting, blog monitoring. For other kinds of companies, not so much. Because for other types of companies, blogs are just another communications vehicle. So are microblogs, like Twitter.
Chances are good that your company needs deep expertise in social media. Fill that need.Â Position yourself as the lead on the tech or the techniques.Â That’s a good thing to do.
But don’t let your expert role turn into a marketing silo. Social media specialization is a skill set — and a hot one — but that’s all it is.
Many C-level executives are deciding they can’t afford the luxury of marketing professionals with limited expertise, no matter how hot. They know that’s not the way markets operate. People touch companies through multiple channels — broadcast media, digital media, store visits, review sites, picking up the phone, writing an email, reading a newsletter and most importantly, through everyday casual 1-on-1 conversations taking place offline with people they know and trust. Blogs and Twitter alone won’t cut it — even Comcast’s Frank Eliason says so.
So get out there and bring your company into the 21st century.Â Just don’t let anyone stuff you into a marketing silo along the way.
Sway has just been added to Alltop’s Marketing collection. Marketing.alltop aggregates the headlines of the latest stories from the best sites and blogs that cover marketing. It’s an excellent resource on a range of marketing topics.
I’m proud that Sway is included.
I often use Alltop collections in my online work, and recommend them in my offline life. That’s where I discovered many of the blogs featured in my blogroll. In fact, speaker.allop has been on Sway’s blogroll since day 1.
For information about Alltop, see the YouTube tutorial.
Duncan raises some good points about the evolution of blogs and microblogs (i.e. Twitter). Blogging is becoming the online publishing platform of choice in many industries, from politics to pharma. This has a couple of implications for influencer programs in 2009.
Top of my list, is that 2009 should see the end of consternation over classifying influencers as “bloggers” or in terms of their other roles in a market or community, be it their job title, employer, profession or expertise.
The crossover point started to become clear in mainstream tech media relations when you could no longer distinguish between columnists and bloggers at ZDNet and other top-10 media networks.
In analyst relations, Gartner brought the point home a few months ago with the launch of the Gartner Blog Network. Trust me, no one is dithering over whether to reclassify Gartner employees from analysts to bloggers.
Sure, some people will be best classified as “bloggers”, just as we still have syndicated columnists from the hardcopy print days. In general though, the confusion over doctor-lawyer-blogger man-thief should die down.
What is a blog? How would you define an industry analyst blog? What separates blogs from the other online destinations and channels published by the ICT analyst community? Is a blog still a blog without an RSS feed? comments? Is an analyst blog tied to his or her expertise? Yesterday, I asked ten or so analysts and consultants in the US and UK to share their thoughts on what is a blog. They responded with free-range thinking on that and beyond: what is an analyst blog, why do analysts blog, and why does anyone care. Good stuff. Here’s a rough cut of my notes.
My intent is to overhaul the criteria for the Tekrati analyst blogs directory. Already, the conversation offers a rich perspective on grounds for deciding which blogs are listed and why they might be tossed out down the road.
I queried analysts and consultants that are successful bloggers: each has a track record as an individual blogger, and has earned credibility as a thought leader within a professional community of practice.
The analysts are: Carl Howe of Blackfriars Communications, Mike Gotta of Burton Group, Alan Pelz-Sharpe of CMS Watch, Charlene Li or Josh Bernoff (Josh responded) of Forrester Research, Dale Vile of Freeform Dynamics, James Governor of RedMonk, John Blossom of Shore Communications, and Stowe Boyd of The Brannan Street Irregulars.
Again, what follows is a rough cut of the discussion threads. I’m pulling excerpts out of the conversational flow, to make for faster reading. More, and perhaps a little more polished, next week.
What is and what is not a blog?
James Governor offers:
1. RSS or ATOM feed
2. no firewall
3. written by named user/s
4. it’s on other people’s blogrolls
Jonny Bentwood agrees with the first two points; sees 3 as more a best practice or preference, and also pushes back on 4.
Dale Vile agreed with points 1 - 3, and adds: “In addition, it might be stating the bleeding obvious, but the ability for people to comment without registration should also be in the list.”
Mike Gotta raises the point of whether blogs are open or are “gated” and require client access: “I think this type of directory should be for blogs or other analyst-associated social media vehicles that are open and community-centric without a lot of strings attached.” Tekrati readers have been rather vocal on this point, too.
Mike and Josh Bernoff both suggest including update frequency. This is another hot point in correspondence with Tekrati readers. The new rev of the directory shows latest posts at a glance, and the actual posts on the detail page. (A blog graveyard might be an interesting addition — instead of a quiet delete.) Josh’s inputs include:
- Publicly available
- Updated at least 10 times per year
- Written in the first person — meaning personal, and expressing a point of view (POV)
He makes a good point: “If you don’t update it at least 10 times a year, it’s not frequent enough to be a blog.”
Disagreeing with James Governor, he reasons that RSS and comments are central to a good blog, but perhaps not mandatory.
Erik poses two criteria to be considered blogs:
- inherently and consistently personal, whether written by a group or one person. (POV)
- formatted as journals on a specific topic — unlike traditional websites. “Meaning you’ve got the main page featuring the past x number of articles, then you’ve got your sorting options (tag categories, years and months)”
Jen McClure disagrees on “personal” being requisite. She points out that blogs aren’t always personal; many businesses and organizations are using the blogging technology platform for their primary corporate website presence, in place of an e-newsletter format , or for special promotions or events. She also made a comment that pulls together many of the different thoughts expressed on what is a blog, and underscores the importance of the softer questions below:
“A blog is more than just the sum of its technological parts - as the important thing is what the technology allows, e.g., instant publication and distribution, linking, commenting.”
What is an analyst blog - and, who is an analyst?
Jonny Bentwood says decide who is an analyst, first. Then sort out the blog criteria.
When deciding who is/not an analyst, Mike Gotta says use company affiliation, basic credentials as an analyst within a sector, but — “I would not want to see something that is exclusionary or reinforce a particular status-quo.”
What is an analyst+blog?
I suspect that analyst salespeople, vendor sales and marketing people, and IT people all have fundamentally different expectations of analyst blogs. Makes answering the question an interesting exercise.
Carl Howe suggests that analyst blogs could resonate with industry research and advisory values, and offers these criteria to kick off the conversation. BTW, he characterizes these as “fairly hard nosed” and not intended to offend:
- Is there accountability? “An analyst is one who is willing to attach her or his personal reputation to their analyses.”
- Is there data to support the point of view?
- Is there original synthesis and insight?
- Is there either prescription or prediction? “Ok, so the blog tells me 1+1=3 — so what? Should I do something about that, like go back and rebalance my checkbook with this new math?”
Some of the other contributors do find these restrictive; I don’t, unless a blog is truly personal. Then again, I am overly jaded on link bait and trolls — a side affect of perusing too many press release and post titles — and I’m not refering to vendor content.
By contrast, Mike Gotta: “Not all analyst blogs contain “analyst-related writings”. Some might be more personal with postings far outside the information topics that one might expect to be associated with an analyst. This is neither good or bad – it depends on what you are trying to accomplish.” Good point, and true to the historical nature of the directory.
Likewise, Mike raises the point that wikis, social bookmark systems and other social media forms all enable analysts to express themselves. So, “fundamental question is whether this is a directory to analysts and how they are expressing themselves via social media”. He’s telling me not to get too hung up in the tech specs, as all tech dies. Et tu, bloge?
Dale shared an interesting model for categorizing blogs, very good and no way to rough cut with justice. Plus, I’m thinking about incorporating into the directory ASAP.
Why do analysts blog, and why does anyone care?
Stowe Boyd, Jen McClure and Dale Vile cracked open this territory with a short debate on social media, thought leadership and the masses. The context is how the blogging and interactive public participates in new ways — and how this can affect opinions, reputations, politics, and more. Clearly, it could affect analyst reputations, as well as the analyst workflow processes (gathering and synthesizing data, reaching and testing conclusions, and publishing).
See Stowe’s post, that kicked off the exchange: What is social media?.
Reprinted from Tekrati
The Tekrati directory of analyst blogs is easier to use, offers more information and is better integrated with its sister directories, on analysts and analyst firms. What’s more, we migrated the OPML to the latest rev and did an extensive housecleaning on the listings. Richard handled the programming effortlessly, as always. I, on the other hand, am still wrestling with a content issue: new rules for separating a blog from any other form of online journal or commentary. I’m asking for help.
You might be thinking that I’m a little slow on the draw, given that I’m just now pondering the universal truths of Blog, some two and half years into publishing a directory of blogs.
Since the 2005 directory debut, my rule has been this: there must be evidence of blog publishing software and/or blog coding and format standards. That’s what split the blogwashers — my term for analysts using web pages that mimic a blog in a cosmetic way — from the bloggers. Only the bloggers that passed this test made it into the directory.
Fast forward to 2007. I’m feeling increasingly self-conscious about this technology-only premise, and that’s not a good thing. More web content seems to be a hybrid, a blend of blog and other content publishing applications. This results in too much dithering on my part. And, I don’t like to guess. Whether a blog is in or out of the directory should be a simple decision. It should not be subjective. (Other elements are subjective, as it is, like who is and who is not an analyst. That’s another conversation.)
What to do? I don’t think that adding more technology to my filtering criteria is the right approach. After all, any kind of page can be turned into an RSS feed, lots of publishing systems allow reader comments, lots of blog templates perform like traditional websites, and lots of analyst blogs don’t accept comments or have feeds that don’t validate.
Over the weekend, I asked Alan Pelz-Sharpe, author of doingITbetter and an analyst at CMS Watch, for his thoughts. He suggested that both purpose and means of publishing could work as criteria. Here’s an excerpt from his email:
“From my perspective a blog is something that is regularly updated and free for open consumption. I guess it is also a little less edited, and (in the spirit of a diary or weblog) more off the cuff - if something requires more thought and examination then this is not the place for it.”
I’m hoping that some analysts and readers will chime in, through trackbacks via the Tekrati weblog. It would be great to get opinions from the likes of Carl Howe, Mike Gotta, Charlene Li or Josh Bernoff, Dale Vile, James Governor, John Blossom, Stowe Boyd, Jen McClure, Jonny Bentwood, and Erik, and of course, more from Alan. And, you.
Thoughts on the redesigned blog directory would be most appreciated, as well. We’re now in position to add more interesting bells and whistles. What appeals to you, and what does not?
The blog directory starts at analystblogs.tekrati.com.*
*Effective 11 February 2011, The Tekrati Analyst Blogs Directory is no longer available.
Reprinted from Tekrati.
Auburn University’s Robert French (no relation), with the support of James Farmer, has launched PRblogs.org to bring PR professionals, educators and students together within a blogging community. PR practioners, educators and students can sign up for a free, ad-free, fully hosted blog of their own. For PR pro’s, this is a low risk, no (monetary) cost way to begin experimenting with a blog of your own. It also offers the opportunity to engage with a diverse community of PR bloggers.
The effort quickly earned two thumbs up from the likes of Jeremy Pepper, Neville Hobson, Octavio Rojas, Guillaume du Gardier, Shawn Lea, Scott Kidder, Dale Wolf, Allan Jenkins, and Blake Barbera. What better way to understand blogging than to participate? Sign up for a free blog and get started today.
Reprinted from Tekrati