Tag Archive for 'research'

Consequences of Forrester Limiting Analyst Blogging Activities

ForresterForrester has recently made a decision to limit blogging activities by analysts to Forrester branded blogs for any topics related to their research coverage area. Forrester analysts can continue to blog about vacations or other personal topics on their own blogs, but they will only be able to blog on the Forrester website for topics that they also cover as part of their role as a research analyst.

SageCircle has a more in-depth analysis of the issue, including an official statement from Forrester. According to SageCircle:

“Forrester CEO George Colony is well aware of that savvy analysts can build their personal brands via their positions as Forrester analysts amplified by social media (see the post on “Altimeter Envy”). As a consequence, a Forrester policy that tries to restrict analysts’ personally-branded research blogs works to reduce the possibility that the analysts will build a valuable personal brand leading to their departure. In addition, forcing analysts to only blog on Forrester-branded blogs concentrates intellectual property onto Forrester properties increasing the value of the Forrester brand.”

“Because there are relatively few analysts at Forrester and large firms that have personally-branded research blogs, this new policy will likely have relatively little short term impact. However, policies like this might hamper future analyst recruiting efforts limiting the type of individuals wanting a job at a firm.” (Quoted from SageCircle)

Given the current economic situation, I agree that this decision is unlikely to have much short-term impact on Forrester, but the long-term effects could be devastating. I suspect that several of their analysts will leave over this decision, although they may wait until the economy starts to improve before making the jump. I also think that they will have a hard time recruiting top talent. Very few people who have built active blogs in their areas of expertise will be willing to give them up. I know that I would never consider working for Forrester under these restrictions.

With that said, I understand why Forrester is making this decision, but I don’t agree with it. I suspect that it is in part an overreaction to several recent high-profile departures from Forrester, including people like Jeremiah Owyang and Charlene Li. While the desire to have all of the content written by Forrester analysts in one place is understandable, there are other ways to pull in the content than by limiting blogging on other websites.

I have been reading Jeremiah’s blog for a long time, and I frequently ran across Forrester research through his blog that I might not have found otherwise. Allowing people to continue to blog in places where they already have a following drives more people to Forrester’s research. Yes, their analysts continue to build a name for themselves, which also reflects positively on Forrester, but they also provide valuable exposure to the research outside of Forrester’s traditional channels. Dennis Howlett at ZDNet provides some more insight into the value that bloggers with an established following brought to Forrester in increased revenue over the past year or so.

It was interesting to read Augie Ray’s perspective. He recently joined Forrester as an analyst, and here are a few of his thoughts on the issue:

“Am I thrilled at the prospect of giving up Experience: The Blog, my personal/professional blog?  Well no—it’s become part of my digital identity and represents thousands of hours of time and effort.  But I also understand Forrester’s reasons for the changes.  There are obvious benefits to the company of aggregating intellectual property on Forrester.com, including Search Engine relevance and creating a marketing platform that demonstrates the breadth and depth of analysts’ brainpower and coverage.”

“I’ll be sad to see Experience: The Blog go, but I’m also looking forward to digging into the new Forrester blog platform.  There, I will continue to do what I’ve been doing for years on my personal blog:  Sharing news, offering insights, connecting with others, asking for input, and—most importantly—continuing to build my reputation within my field.” (Quoted from Experience: The Blog)

This decision is generating some high profile criticism, and I hope they reconsider this decision. These types of restrictions just aren’t practical in today’s environment where our jobs and personal lives are becoming blended, particularly through social content on blogs and Twitter.

Social Media Users Are Older and More Business-Like Than You Think

I had an interesting conversation with a client recently who was expressing doubt about whether their audience, less technical business professionals over 40, was participating in any meaningful way in social media. As a result of this conversation, I spent some time digging into the data, and I wanted to share what I learned.

Your Competitors Are Investing in Social Media

Companies are continuing to invest more money in social media, which will continue to fuel the growth of social media technologies. At least some of your competitors have plans to invest more resources and increase spending on social media. Here are a few examples from eMarketer and Forrester.emarketing1 emarketing3

emarketing2

forrester

Twitter Users Are Trending Older

According to Nielsen, Twitter is growing rapidly and people using Twitter tend to trend older than you might expect with 35 – 49 year-olds making up almost 42% of the traffic to Twitter.com.

twitter growthtwitter age demo

Nielsen has also found that the majority of Twitter users access it from work:

“Twitterers (a.k.a. Tweeters) are not primarily teens or college students as you might expect. In fact, in February the largest age group on Twitter was 35-49; with nearly 3 million unique visitors, comprising almost 42 percent of the site’s audience. We found that the majority of people visit Twitter.com while at work, with 62 percent of the combo unique audience accessing the site from work only versus 35 percent that accessed it from home only.”

comScore has also noticed a similar trend in Twitter users:

“18-24 year olds, the traditional social media early adopters, are actually 12 percent less likely than average to visit Twitter (Index of 88). It is the 25-54 year old crowd that is actually driving this trend. More specifically, 45-54 year olds are 36 percent more likely than average to visit Twitter, making them the highest indexing age group, followed by 25-34 year olds, who are 30 percent more likely.”

twitter-chart2

Facebook Users Are Trending Older

According to Nielsen:

While social networks started out among the younger audience, they’ve become more mainstream with the passage of time. Not surprisingly the audience has become broader and older. This shift has primarily been driven by Facebook whose greatest growth has come from people aged 35-49 years of age (+24.1 million). From December 2007 through December 2008, Facebook added almost twice as many 50-64 year old visitors (+13.6 million) than it has added under 18 year old visitors (+7.3 million).

facebook_growth

According to Inside Facebook:

Looking at Facebook US audience growth over the last 180 days, it’s clear that Facebook is seeing massive increases in adoption amongst users 35-65. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is still women over 55 – there are now nearly 1.5 million of them active on Facebook each month.

The biggest growth in terms of absolute new users over the last six month came amongst users 35-44. Over 4 million more US women 35-44 and nearly 3 million more US men 35-44 used Facebook in March 2009 compared to September 2008.

Online Community Participants Also Increasing in Age

online community ages

There you have it. A big data dump of various research into social media and online community age demographics. If you know of other research, please feel free to share them in the comments.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

Industry Analyst Custom Search Engine

In October, I put together a Google Custom Search Engine to search the blogs of several online community thought leaders. Custom search engines are a great way to control where you search while restricting the search to a specified list of experts. I wanted to share another custom search engine for Industry Analysts. This is a way to find quick quotes and research on a specific topic just from the industry analyst sites specified below:

  • nielsen-online.com
  • amrresearch.com
  • onlinecommunityreport.com
  • forumonenetworks.com
  • illuminata.com
  • redmonk.com
  • idc.com
  • forrester.com
  • gartner.com
  • the451group.com

Now, the question for you. Who did I miss? What other industry analysts cover online communities and social media?

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

    Why Your Company Should Have a Blog

    While doing some research for a consumer products client over the holidays, I was surprised to discover that almost half of this company’s competitors, distributors, and other related companies did not have any type of corporate blog presence. Since most of my clients are technology companies, I sometimes forget that companies in other industries aren’t as focused on social media technologies and blogs.

    The research shows that more people are reading blogs, those people expect your company to have a social media presence, and blogs influence their purchasing decisions. Those sound like very compelling reasons for companies to start blogging or to improve their existing blog!

    The Research

    Cone Finds that Americans Expect Companies to Have a Presence in Social Media: September 25, 2008

    Sixty percent of Americans use social media, and of those, 59 percent interact with companies on social media Web sites. One in four interacts more than once per week.

    According to the survey, 93 percent of social media users believe a company should have a presence in social media, while an overwhelming 85 percent believe a company should not only be present but also interact with its consumers via social media. In fact, 56 percent of users feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment.

    “The news here is that Americans are eager to deepen their brand relationships through social media,” explains Mike Hollywood, director of new media for Cone, “it isn’t an intrusion into their lives, but rather a welcome channel for discussion.” (Quoted from Cone: September 25, 2008)

    Forrester Research: The Growth Of Social Technology Adoption on October 20, 2008

    One in three online Americans now read blogs at least once a month, while 18% comment on them. Blog readers as a group grew by nearly 50% over this past year. (Quoted from Forrester Research: October 20, 2008)

    BuzzLogic: Blog Influence on Consumer Purchases Eclipses Social Networks on October 28, 2008

    Blogs influence purchases: One half (50 percent) of blog readers say they find blogs useful for purchase information.

    According to the study, blogs factor in to critical stages of the purchase process, weighing most heavily at the actual moment of a purchase decision. When it comes to respondents who said they have trusted blog content for purchase decisions in the past, over half (52 percent) say blogs played a role in the critical moment they decided to move forward with a purchase. (Quoted from BuzzLogic: October 28, 2008)

    Quick Summary: What This Means for Companies

    For those of us who regularly consume information from blogs, we expect to be able to grab an RSS feed of your company’s blog to keep up with news and information relevant to your industry. The research above shows that the number of people who read blogs in growing, and these people expect you to have a blog. Not only are more people reading blogs, these blogs are influencing purchasing decisions, which is important for every company.

    Additional Benefits

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is probably one of the biggest advantages of having a corporate blog. Because blog content is updated frequently, blogs have some built-in search engine benefits. The blogging culture also encourages linking to other blogs, which can also improve your rankings in search results.

    Thought Leadership. A great blog can position your company and key employees as thought leaders within the industry, which puts your company in a position of greater authority within your industry. The O’Reilly Radar blog is a great example of how O’Reilly employees and the company are seen as thought leaders, thus putting O’Reilly in a greater position of authority for books, events, and other products.

    Should Every Company Have a Blog?

    Yes and no. The benefits of blogging seem to be fairly clear; however, these benefits are only achieved when the blog is updated regularly with great content. Unfortunately, this can be a significant time commitment. For companies who are not willing to put in the time and effort, it is better not to have a blog than to have a blog that hasn’t been updated in months.

    Here are a few things to think about:

    • Can you commit to at least one post per week? (2-3 is better)
    • Do you have people who have interesting things to say and with good writing skills?
    • Is someone available to manage the process and make sure that the blog never gets neglected?

    If the answer to any of the above questions is no, this might not be the right time for you to start a corporate blog.

    If you are still on the fence, here are a few tricks to help overcome the above hurdles:

    • Start a group blog with several authors to spread the load across more people. With 4 authors, each person could write one post a month to meet the minimum requirement of one post per week. A dozen authors writing 2 posts per month would give you content for a post each business day.
    • Recruit bloggers from the lower ranks of the company who are smart and passionate about the industry. While the CEO might not have hours to spend blogging, someone further down the org chart might be able to carve out a little more time.
    • Manage the blog process by having someone who already manages content for other purposes also pick up management of the blog. A community manager is a good choice for this if you have one.

    Recommended Reading

    Trust and Corporate Blogging

    I’ve spent a fair amount of time talking on this blog and in other places about what to do and what not to do with a corporate blog. Here’s a short summary:

    • Don’t regurgitate press releases. Do focus on content relevant to your industry
    • It’s not all about you. It is a conversation.
    • Don’t focus on marketing messages. Have a personal tone.
    • Make sure the blog doesn’t get stale. A content roadmap can help you stay on track.

    This morning I read Josh Bernoff’s Forrester Report, Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas, which focused on whether or not people trust corporate blogs. I was not surprised by the finding that only 16% of online consumers who read corporate blogs trust them. I don’t usually trust press releases, which tend to tell one side of the story (the company’s side) always in the best possible light and sometimes with so much spin you can’t find the meat of the announcement. Too many corporate blogs seem like a series of press releases, and I don’t trust those blogs. However, there are also many excellent corporate blogs written by people that I do trust.

    I tend to agree with Richard MacManus on ReadWriteWeb:

    To the larger point of whether corporate blogs are trustworthy, it depends on so many things that it’s difficult to make a sweeping judgement. For example, I trust some Microsoft blogs more than others – depending on the person blogging and perhaps even the department they work for. It depends on the style of blogging, the content that’s published, the way the blog is promoted, and so on. (Quoted from ReadWriteWeb)

    Based on the recommendations in the report, I suspect that Josh agrees with us:

    Like any other marketing channel, blogging can work. But it’s not about you; it’s about your customer. Our rule of thumb is that if the person reading the blog says, “Sure I don’t trust corporate blogs, but I don’t think of your blog that way,” then you’re on the right track. (Quoted from Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas)

    Josh includes a few tips for improving the trust on your blog (his article has a few more tips and a paragraph with more explanation on each one):

    • Blog about the customer’s problem.
    • Blog to your hordes of fans.
    • Blog about issues at the core of a community.
    • For B2B companies, get your employees in on the act.

    (Quoted from Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas)

    The real message here is that trust has to be earned. Trust has to be earned for each new corporate blog and each individual blogger. Jeremiah Owyang put together an informal checklist to help you evaluate your current company blog. A great corporate blog can be a trusted source of information, but it takes real work and diligence to get to that point.

    How’s your corporate blog performing?

    Online Community Culture Research

    Yet another great research report coming from Bill Johnston of ForumOne. The topic of his latest report is Online Community Culture. 75 people participated in the study, so the sample size is fairly small, but is what you would expect from a niche survey of people managing online communities.

    The study found that the most important factors in establishing and maintaining a community’s culture include:

    • Quality, up-to-date content
    • Clear objective / value statement
    • Strong moderation / facilitation

    My past experience managing communities leads me to agree wholeheartedly with the findings that these three factors are critical for having a healthy community culture.

    • Communities without great, relevant content tend to wither away as participants decide to spend their valuable time in communities with higher quality content. The culture gradually disintegrates as key people leave. When I have spent some extra time creating content and encouraging other people to create great content, the community activity levels and culture seemed to show improvement.
    • A clear objective / value statement for the community keeps everyone working toward the same goal. My worst experience managing communities came from an environment where there was disagreement among the top management at the company about the value and objectives for the community. It was impossible to build a community culture without a clear objective / value statement.
    • Strong moderation / facilitation helps keep the community clean and on track. Members don’t want a community full of spam or other worthless content.

    I encourage you to read the entire blog post about the Online Community Culture report (or the entire report if you are one of the lucky people with a subscription). The blog contains additional data points, quotes from the survey comments, and a great analysis near the end of the post.

    Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

    Analysts Writing about Online Communities and Social Media

    I try to keep up with the latest research and ideas about online communities and social media, but I find myself occassionally missing some good research only because it gets lost in the sea of information streaming across my screen. I decided to set up a Yahoo Pipe to pull all of the analyst blogs together and filter it down to the keywords of most interest to me. As with many of my Yahoo Pipes creations, I wanted to share it with others who might find it useful. Here’s how it works …

    It takes blog feeds from the following analyst firms:

    It filters for keywords in the content and titles of the blog posts. The keywords searched include: social media, online community, social network, collaboration, and a few others.

    Usage:

    1. Go to the Analyst Research Blogs Filtered for Social Media pipe
    2. Grab the RSS feed output

    Unlike many of my other pipes, this one is not user configurable. However, you can always clone the source of my pipe and tweak the analyst blog feeds or keywords for filters to make it better for your needs.

    My Question for You:

    Am I missing any key analyst firms with blogs who cover the social media / online community space?

    Related Fast Wonder Blog posts

    State of the Online Community 2008

    Bill Johnston recently gave a presentation about the State of the Online Community 2008: Key Findings from the Online Community Research Network, and I encourage you to take a look at it. As you can tell from the title, the slides contain highlights and important information from his research over the past year. Here are a few of my personal favorites among his key findings:

    • Most organizations do not have a comprehensive online community strategy.
    • Marketing typically owns the community (I have some thoughts on this).
    • Community manager roles are still evolving.
    • Many communities are not meeting expectations.


    Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

    Community Manager Compensation Study

    I’ve mentioned before about how great it is that ForumOne does focused, relevant, and interesting research on the online community market, and their most recent report is no exception. They just released the Online Community Compensation Study results a week ago. Since I participated in the study, I was able to get a free copy of the entire report, but Bill does a great job of summarizing the key points in his blog post.

    The entire study was great, but I was particularly fascinated by two pieces of information:

    • Salary ranges are all over the board
    • Women’s salaries are quite a bit less than men’s

    Salary Ranges for Community Managers

    I’ve always said that community manager salaries cover a broad range, but I was surprised by exactly how broad the range is. My advice to people about community manager salaries is that community managers tend to make $50,000 to $150,000 per year; however, I was really surprised that it wasn’t more of a bell curve. I was expecting to see a few people around $50k, a few people in the $100k+ range and most of the community managers in the $75k range, but the real numbers are nothing like this imagined bell curve as you can see from the graph above.

    The number of people in $150k salary range compared to the other salaries was the most surprising of all; however, I expect that these people fall into two groups:

    • people in higher level strategic positions in corporate environments who head a large organization responsible for the growth and management of multiple communities.
    • community managers with name recognition or internet celebrity status working in high profile positions as community evangelists

    The lower salary ranges, while I didn’t expect them, are actually less surprising. I suspect that many people volunteer their time to help manage communities for little or no salary. The lower end of the range is also likely to include people managing small communities on a part-time basis or in startups.

    In general, community managers for technical communities (developers, etc.) tend to make more than end user, social communities. Salary also changes significantly depending on whether the role is really more low-end, tactical moderation or something more strategic, like building a new community or revitalizing a troubled community site. Job experience, scope, management responsibilities, location and how well known the person is can also make a big difference in the salary range as mentioned above.

    Salary by Gender

    Unfortunately, women are making less than men by what seems like a large margin to me. I’m not even going to speculate on why this might be true because they would just seem like the same old clichés and excuses that we’ve been using since women first entered the workforce. I’ll just say that this makes me sad.

    Disclaimer: The graphs come from the research conducted by ForumOne; however, my analysis and commentary is highly speculative based on what I know of the industry, not the data in the report.

    For more info

    Bill does a great job of summarizing the rest of the key points along more information about the demographic breakdown in his blog post. I would also encourage you to take a look at the Online Community Report blog to learn more about the research at ForumOne. They have some very interesting studies and are doing more detailed research into online communities than any other companies I’ve found so far.

    Related Fast Wonder blog posts

    Online Community Research from Forum One

    Forum One is one of the few research companies doing regular quality research on meaty topics in the online community space. I also really like Forum One’s model for releasing research reports. Around 6-9 months after each report is published, they open it up for the public to download.

    Here are a few reports that you can download for free right now:

    Bill Johnston just posted a little more information about their research agenda on the Online Community Report blog if you are interested in learning more about their other reports. It’s well worth your time to subscribe to his blog to get updates on the latest research and events.

    Related Fast Wonder Blog posts: