Social Media Analytics–A Book Review


Every two to three years, a book comes along that makes a big difference to the way you think about your work and more importantly it helps you to become more productive. Marshall Sponder’s recent book, Social Media Analytics is this year’s must have book for social media practitioners.

The book gets right to the issues that social media managers face in their daily jobs and covers ideas and tools that can be used by businesses of all sizes. It helps marketers understand the kinds of data that should be collected and how it can help the business. Overall, a stunning read and a great reference book for all those who are asked to build, interpret and report on social media metrics. Social Media Analytics is divided up into twelve chapters and covers a wide range of complex issues such as social media ROI, though to the long term future trends of social analytics.

In the first chapter, Sponder sets the scene with a brief history of social media and delves into various arguments and discussion on the subject of social media ROI and provides a good overview of self-service analytics platform such as, Radian6, BrandWatch, Synthesis and Sysomos. The opening chapter also contains a number of real world case studies from Lithium and Vistaprint which really help bring the topic of metrics alive, and how other companies are dealing with the challenges of reporting on social media.

The second chapter explores how social media practitioners can target audiences using profiling tools, with a deep dive into viral video tracking. Also, in this chapter Sponder highlights a great case study around HTC’s mobile phone usage in Australia.

The third chapter examines monitoring and measuring social media Internationally through various languages, dialects, slang and linguistic variations with a special focus on China. This chapter also briefly looks at the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange brand campaign. This chapter also features a case study from Synthesio, and provides the nuts, bolts, steps and methodologies, timelines, as well as problems encountered with social media monitoring and analytics.

The fourth chapter examines the issues of finding signal and separating out the noise in social media mentions. The chapter looks at “micro signals” and examines Google’s ITA acquisition. Finally, an interview with Chase McMichael, CTO of InfiniGraph is presented.

The fifth chapter looks at ways content creators value their tweets, posts, Facebook friends, Facebook fans, followers, and so on. Case studies from Buzzdetector (an Italian Social Media Monitoring platform) and the Associazione Canili Lazio, a nonprofit organisation for the fair treatment of dogs are also presented.

The sixth chapter explores how influence is measured in Social Media and platforms that offer influence modules, including Radian6, Sysomos, Alterian SM2, PeekYou, FollowerWonk, Klout, mPACT, TRAACKR, etc. Chris Brogan’s attempt to promote Stever Robbin’s book on 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More is examined using Sysomos.

The seventh looks at how to set up a scorecard for social media analytics, with contribution from Gary Angel of The chapter explores various agency scorecards such as the Razorfish Fluent, and the DFI scorecard . The gem in this chapter is the section which discusses questions to ask clients and stakeholders, which help to make the end results more meaningful and complete. A case study of Complex Media and InfiniGraph rounds off the chapter.

The eighth chapter examines scorecard creation and utilizes a Semphonic case study. Suggestions on how to segment data are discussed , maturity levels of clients, and several examples of advanced scorecards from Semphonic are presented in the remainder of the chapter, along with an interview with Gary Angel, CTO of Semphonic.

The ninth chapter discusses ways to track content that is created particularly for social media, and looks at ways to benefit from the intelligence gained from social analytics platforms. A case study from the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center is presented from Alterian. The chapter ends by looking at new measuring platforms such as Visual Revenue LLC, Adaptive Semantics (AOL Huffington Post) and InfiniGraph.

The tenth chapter looks at the differences between self-serve and off-the-shelf listening platforms. A case study with Brandwatch CEO Giles Palmer discusses how his platform was built from the ground up. Finally, this chapter also looks at the limitations of keyword queries and focuses on the limitations and scaling issues of self- serve systems.

The eleventh chapter explores how readers can “mash-up” data and presents an in-depth case study of Integrasco and Vodafone UK. Two additional case studies are presented from Econsultancy, LinkedIn and of Famecount.

The twelfth and final chapter of the book looks to the future of social media analytics, Sponder reviews case studies from Behive Systems, a Hong Kong consultancy who worked with QR codes, and an interview with Bob Pearson, CTO of WCG.

Social Media Analytics is the definitive text on the subject matter and is available from Amazon UK and I highly recommend it.


Author: Jas

Jas Dhaliwal is a highly experienced International Social Media Strategist. Currently working as AVG Technologies, Director of Communities and Online Engagement, he specialises in building and engaging with social communities across the web. Born and bred in London, he is passionate about technology and social anthropology. Prior to AVG, Jas launched the social media program for Microsoft’s MVP Award program. Jas holds a BSc (Hons) in Information Systems and has an MBA from Brunel University in London, England. You can follow Jas as @Jas on Twitter or on Google+

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