The growth of social networks is allowing a silent minority to become heard with a crystal clarity. People with the ambition and enthusiasm to make a name for themselves in their specialist field are building the infrastructure of a new type of community of special interests that is effectively competing with industry analysts. A community of experts who aren’t saying what they say because they’ve been paid to say it but instead are saying it because it’s a well-informed belief.

Whether your field is literature or linguistics, opera or soap opera, politics or purchasing, you can make a name for yourself by creating content on-line.  Content is increasingly consumed on the internet, on the desktop in the office or via mobile devices anywhere. Blogs syndicated through social networks reach their audience far quicker and in a manner much more convenient than the traditional channels of printed media, TV and radio.

But should the traditional media be that worried about bloggers?

Purchasing Insight logoI met a well known BBC broadcaster in an airport lounge recently and he explained to me that there was a crisis in the reporting of the arts. Not enough to report on perhaps? People losing interest? No. It is the rise of the bloggers. A growing community of expert enthusiasts able to distribute content more cheaply in a more engaging fashion that traditional publishers and broadcasters. We used to talk in terms of B2C, G2C, B2B etc. There are now sufficient effective social media pressure groups that make the acronynms C2C, C2B  and C2G make sense. Business and Government should take note.

But it’s not just about communication channels. The role and effect of social media is much more influential than that and it’s not just the traditional published and broadcast media that should be worried. The phenomenon is growing rapidly and is steadily encroaching into the space traditionally occupied by the analysts.

Of the blogs within our sphere of interest, purchasing and purchase to pay, Spendmatters is perhaps the most mature. Spend Matters Pro is now offering one of the most authoritative sources of views and analysis in our industry and in some specialist fields it is arguably without equal – but at a fraction of the cost of the traditional analysts.

In the past, you would access analyst insights via an expensive subscription and for large organizations it has been, and mostly still is, worth it – as long as they understand that the business analysis you get generally only covers those businesses who have in turn paid a substantial subscription. The analyst research has always been about big business doing business with big business, perpetuating the self-fulfilling prophecy that you won’t get fired for buying IBM. This is not what we want in 2012. We need better insights than that and while business should of course continue to subscribe to the quality analysts, to get the whole picture they should subscribe too to the real expert analysts. You know who they are.

Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin