Are industry analysts losing their influence to journalists and industry bloggers? This was one question we discussed Wednesday morning as I took part in a PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) teleconference organized by Barbara French of Tekrati, which tracks industry analyst firms.
On the panel with me was David Schatsky, of JupiterKagan--the new company recently formed when KaganResearch acquired JupiterResearch. The topic was: The Changing Influence Of High Tech Analysts in a New Media Age and we talked about some of the blurring distinctions between analyst, journalist, and industry bloggers.
Ms French shared some interesting statistics: only about 5 per cent of the analyst community are engaged in blogging out of more than 4,000 analysts. The number of analysts blogging seems very low to me and indicative that the analyst community does not appreciate the value of publishing their own blogs.
I'm sure that will change over time, but for now, Ms French says that the number of blogs is steady although there is some churn as new blogs replace ones that have become dormant. I'm surprised that more analysts are not blogging because it is by far the best way to establish your thought leadership and expertise.
And I think that the analyst community does not yet understand this simple fact: blogging is by far and away the most honest form of promotion because if you can't walk the walk, talk the talk then it will be very readily apparent. So is it that many analysts are afraid of being "found out" as being less expert than they really are?
And do the analysts risk eroding their influence because they do not engage fully in blogging?
Mr Schatsky has been a strong advocate of blogging within JupiterKagan and all its analysts are encouraged to blog although only about two dozen or so do it on a regular basis. Mr Schatsky's blog can be found here: http://weblogs.jupiterresearch.com/analysts/schatsky/
Ms French discovered that most of the analyst blog sites do not allow readers to publish comments, or accept trackbacks. And Mr Schatsky's blog is the same, no comments or trackbacks. Feedback is by email only.
Is it a blog if there is no comments or trackback? I would argue it is not a blog it is an online publication but it is not a blog. It misses the whole point of the value of a blog, imho.
Mr Schatsky argues that he does not want to provide a platform for others. And that there would be considerable resources required to moderate comments and trackbacks on what is a free resource.
However, not enabling any form of visible feedback is missing half the value of online publishing. I get very frustrated if I read something and I am not allowed to leave a comment or a trackback.
I understand that JupiterKagan does not want to publish negative comments from the trolls but this continues to promote an attitude of "we are the experts and you are the consumers and we don't care to engage with you in an online forum."
I moderate comments but I find I never get any trolls or negative comments and the only time I delete a comment is when it is clearly spam or adds nothing to a topic. The analyst firms appear to be scared of exposing themselves online and that makes me wonder if they truly are expert in their fields. Otherwise, they would engage in public forums with other thought leaders and they wouldn't be afraid of doing it on their own blogs.
Charlene Li, Forrester's top Internet analyst is a great example of an analyst that has used her blog to bring in over $1m of new business to Forrester, and also boost her own standing within her community. And comments are included
Sharing the platform
However, Ms Li's success brings up another core issue for any organization: do you let your staff use the company platform to boost their individual reputations? Robert Scoble, for example, is Microsoft's top blogger, and in the blogosphere he is easily Microsoft's second most famous employee and could leave today and do very well at another company.
Within MSFT you will find opinions that say "let's control Scoble." While others say "leave him alone." We'll see if the control faction wins out.
In the case of the industry analysts, the analyst firms will have to share their platform with their top analysts even though those analysts will build their brand and some will leave. If they don't they will face competition from their rivals--whether at other analyst firms or specialist industry bloggers--which are using the new media to their full capabilities, comments and trackbacks included.