Forrester’s New Blog Policy Creates Quite A Stir

It has been interesting watching the social-media frenzy over the past few days since rumor broke over the weekend that Forrester was changing its policy with regard to analyst blogs. Reactions have gone from one extreme to the other which I suppose is a good thing – people care passionately about being able to keep getting content from Forrester analysts through blogs.

Since I was one of the analysts consulted by Forrester on the new social media policy I've been asked to weigh-in on this topic – although I think my colleagues Augie Ray and Groundswell author Josh Bernoff put it very well in their blogs over the weekend. And Cliff Condon gave the official version of what's happening in his recent post.

Contrary to rumor, Forrester is not asking analysts to stop blogging. Quite the opposite. Forrester is asking more analysts to blog. What Forrester is asking us to do is to not blog under our own brand – if we have a private blog that has content related to our role as an analyst, we are being asked to move that content under the Forrester brand, but still as a personal blog.

Since I've been creating content online since 2000 either as a personal website (pre-blogging) or as blog content, I can tell you that my initial reaction to this idea was: whoa, you can't do that – free speech, liberty and all that. I may even have become quite animated. However, after an appropriate period of digestion, I came to realize that this makes perfect sense and, if Forrester were as a client I had to advise on a blogging policy, this is exactly what I would recommend.

Companies like Forrester that rely upon the knowledge of their employees to create tangible client value and associated revenue (this could include consulting firms, newspapers and publishers) must protect their intellectual property. Without doing so, the business model would cease to function - clients would have no reason to pay for the expertise of analysts. So how we blog, and how much we blog, requires a fine balance between using social media to stimulate interest in our expertise, while still leaving readers wanting more. Stimulating demand for our services by delivering client value is at the heart of our business.

You might wonder why we wouldn't be allowed to blog under both the Forrester banner and our own branded blogs simultaneously. At first glance this may seem reasonable. However, where people see the content is important because we ultimately want to drive traffic back to the mother ship. Simply put, the best way to do this is for analysts to blog under the Forrester banner. It's cleaner for clients and simpler for analysts.

What the analyst loses with this change is the ability to build a brand outside of Forrester through a personal blog. On the flip side, as Augie pointed out, Forrester invests in building the brand of each of its analysts. This evolution of our blogging platform is further demonstration of that. Our readers will still have access to all the great blog content from our analysts except that it will soon only be available in personal analyst blogs on the Forrester Blog site. If you follow an analyst's blog right now, you will still be able to follow their blog content from the new blog site.

As a leading proponent of the value of social media, Forrester is leading by example. Our commitment to providing analyst content through blogs has never been greater. Personally, I can't wait for the new platform to go live.

 

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Comments

re: Forrester’s New Blog Policy Creates Quite A Stir

This doesn't seem like a great idea overall. I get that Forrester wants the goodness from its analysts to appear under its brand umbrella, but by forcing the Forrester brand on it I wonder whether the blogger is:
1) being paid to blog
2) has an agenda thrust upon him
3) wonder what kind of editorial control is going on

While all of these things may have been happening otherwise, once a blog gets the corporate badge on it, I assume something is up.

Personally, I could see the value of having your analysts out there building their personal brands. As long as they mention they're with Forrester, it makes your brand look better (hires smart people) and makes them look a little more independent.

re: Forrester’s New Blog Policy Creates Quite A Stir

So be it.

I've, among a couple of other clients, tried to point out through multiple comments that Forrester was wrong continuing to think themselves as a content company, when everyone is actually overwhelmed by free good quality content.

If I were advising Forrester, I would say Forrester have to re-invent themselves and become a relationship company between clients exposing their problems and top-brand analysts offering customized recommendations.

But you are the analysts, and it is your business. We are only a couple of vocal clients, and possibly representing only a minority of your cusotmer base. It is nevertheless a bit disturbing that there didn't seem a real conversation has taken place. It sounded to me that Forrester kept reasserting again and again why they the were right making the move. Quite intriguing in an age where social media is supposed to be all about engaging conversation with the community.

re: Forrester’s New Blog Policy Creates Quite A Stir

Hi Marty,

I can say I do share some of your concerns and I voiced them early on in the discussion internally about the new policy.

Primarily I would be concerned about editorial freedom and the ability to continue to post content that may not be in my precise coverage area but in an area I feel I have an opinion worth sharing.

On the first point I'm assured we'll have as much editorial freedom on the Forrester blog as we would have on our own. I think I and my fellow analysts will need to see how this stands up over time. Overall I have a high degree of trust that we (Forrester) will do the right thing here.

You are correct that not having a corporate badge creates the illusion of independence but the fact is we all have to abide by our social media policy regardless of where we post (and that includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs).

Personally I'm hoping that having individual analyst blogs at blogs.forrester.com will result in more diversity in the existing role blogs and not less.

Initially every analyst post on their own blog will auto-syndicate to their role-coverage blog. What this means is that when I post on my own blog it will automatically appear in the CIO blog. Eventually we may revisit this and provide an option for an analyst to keep their post to just their own blog and not have it syndicated to the role blog.

Thanks for your comments,
Nigel.

re: Forrester’s New Blog Policy Creates Quite A Stir

This is by far the best "explanation" I have seen to date in regard to Forrester's new Social Media policy. I did not find a single contradiction or flimsy rationalization.

What I really like to have read is the following: "Our Analysts are just that, 'ours.' When they speak, they speak for us - and only in our forums."

I have now read dozens of posts and comments on this subject. I think my description above gets to the precise point of the Policy.

Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist
http://community.ca.com/blogs/theitgovernanceevangelist/

re: Forrester’s New Blog Policy Creates Quite A Stir

Frederick,

I think you are exactly correct. We do consider ourselves to be a relationship company and we are continually re-inventing our model to drive higher and higher engagement with our clients.

Our analysts are continously providing tailored advice to our clients either through inquiries, advisory services, our Leadership Boards or consulting services.

You make a valid point in relation to having a discussion vs justifying a decision. I do think as analysts we are listening. At the same time we want to give the new platform a shot and see where it takes us.

There are certainly many voices on both sides of the argument and I've read a number of posts from clients suggesting we made the right call here. I think we need to let it play out and see where it takes us (and you - our clients).

Thanks for your comments
Nigel

re: Forrester’s New Blog Policy Creates Quite A Stir

Steve,

Thanks for our comment - clients are at the heart of our culture and drive everything we do. You are so right - we are your analysts and we are here to provide you advice and guidance.

Well said.
Nigel.

re: Forrester’s New Blog Policy Creates Quite A Stir

Nigel, thanks for the insight. Social media policies are always a touchy subject. They can be a delicate balance - especially for companies as involved in the intellectual capital of its people as Forrester.

As you state, the true test will be less in the short-term upheaval and more in the longer-term commitment of the company to allow enough editorial discretion and authenticity for the the respective bloggers to feel empowered rather than constrained. That leveling point will be the only true indicator of whether or not the policy was successful. It will also likely determine whether the audience stays. Personally, I think they will.

Good luck.