Social Media Book Club Review: Social Media Analytics by Marshall Sponder
Marshall Sponder is the author of Web Metrics Guru as well as a columnist on VentureBeat and Entrepreneur Magazine. With a long history in the world of web analytics, he's considered one of the go-to sources on the subject. I'm happy to say his new book, Social Media Analytics, does nothing but support this logic. As part of the Social Media Book Club I was given the opportunity to review Marshall's new book. I was thrilled to find an insightful, well thought out look into the world of data analysis as it applies to social networks and social business efforts. Coming in at over 300 pages this is a surprisingly quick read that lends to skipping around to sections that apply to you and your business efforts. More on that to come.
First a bit of honesty: I skipped around and didn't read the whole book. Let's get that out of the way up front. That's not a mark against this book at all, in reality most people never finish books they purchase and that trend is growing. It's part of the way we live our lives now and in this industry we're as guilty as anyone. We live our lives in snippets and the information comes faster than we can curate it. If we can assume the above to be true, then the goal of a book review like this for you, the end reader, is validation. Do I trust this reviewer? Do their words make me believe this book something that is worth your time to read? If you're lucky, maybe you'll even pick up some of the insights from it without spending your time reading it cover-to-cover. My review will really cover my viewpoint of the book through a few key sections and should be considered an endorsement of them as they stand on their own.
While the book opens with a bit of foundation on social media, it quickly escalates into data backed examples of how businesses use social tools and how they track their progess towards their goals with the data provided by them. By the second chapter Marshall is looking at the various ways to find your audience, from tools like Google Webmaster Tools to sophisticated listening solutions like Radian 6. The chapter is not only a tool hit-list but a review of some examples to give you a better idea of real world scenarios. The following chapter covers international uses and solutions. I skipped it. Your milage may vary. Chapter 5 is where the value of a network started being discussed and I got more interested.
Marshall takes an extremely analytical view of network valuation that was refreshing to see, honestly. I'm used to reading books about "being human online" and "treating connections like neighbors" but frankly, the C-suite isn't responsible for that. They're responsible for making a profit with the business they deal in. We get into examples quickly of how brands like McDonald's, Havana Central and Burger King view the value of their connections. It's very mathmatical and based on traditional data analysis. Extremely helpful to anyone looking to wrap their arms around this challenge with more than just a promise and good instincts. Again here Marshall leans heavy on tools to analyze the data, but the tools he mentions should be used by bigger brands in this space regardless.
Following chapters cover influence and more advanced analytics that will take much more time to go through than I had for the purposes of this review. They looked very promising but you'll need to judge the content yourself as the value may be different depending on your goals and expectations.
Overall this book is better served as a guide book for analytics that should be referenced over time more so than a straight read-through. If you're in the online marketing industry, consider this my endorsment of the book and recommendation for purchase. It's a great book to have on hand for those strategic sessions about goals and a good refernce point for client and boss conversation about just how to put a dollar amount on your efforts and make sure there is a positive (read: measureable) effect on the bottom line.