If you don’t know who Marshall Sponder is, it’s time to find out. I’ve worked with Marshall off and on for many years, hiring him on my analytics team at IBM ten years ago and working with him on client projects since. He’s the author of the WebMetricsGuru blog and a well-known conference speaker and analytics expert, but Social Media Analytics is is first book, a surprise given how much he writes. And the book is a surprise (a good one) in other ways, too.
I should start by saying that I am not an unbiased observer—I’ve been a friend and fan of Marshall’s for a long time. And Marshall does mention Converseon in the book, for whom I work as Chief Strategist. So, if you are looking for a critical review, look elsewhere. But setting aside my bias, this is an important book for social media marketers, and I want to explain why.
First, it’s not the kind of read cover-to-cover book that most are, that have a start, a middle, and an end. And that’s probably it’s biggest strength. Instead, Social Media Analytics is a grand tour of the big questions in analytics today. You don’t need to read Chapter 3 before you read Chapter 6. Instead, you can skim the table of contents at any moment you have a big question and dive right into the issues.
So, do you want to know what a Facebook fan is worth? Or how to calculate social media ROI? Or perhaps you want to know how to measure influence? Or you need to understand how to listen to the social media conversation about your brand? Do you need to do these things in global markets?
These questions might seem unanswerable, and Marshall makes no claim to answer them. Instead, he explores all of the critical factors that you must analyze to get those answers in your own situation. He gives real-world examples of companies grappling with those issues, along with the tools and techniques that they use. Because social media analytics is so new, there are no universal best practices. Marshall shows you the underlying questions you need to ask and interviews some of the best thinking on the subject so that you know how to start finding your answers for your situation.
In addition, the book is chock-full of case studies that expand your thinking and vendor profiles that help you narrow your focus. In short, Social Media Analytics is a practical exploration of the biggest issues in social metrics today and will set you up for intelligent decisions for your own situation. I highly recommend it.