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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