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.


Evil Plans by Hugh MacLeod – A Book Review



“Everybody needs an evil plan. Everybody needs that crazy, out-there idea that allows them to actually start doing something they love, doing something that matters. Everybody needs an Evil Plan that gets them the hell out of the rat race, away from lousy bosses, away from boring, dead- end jobs they hate. Life is short. Thanks to the Internet , it has never been easier to have an Evil Plan, to make a great living, doing what you love, doing something that matters”.

These are words that kick off the introductory chapter of Hugh MacLeod’s new book, entitled Evil Plans – Having Fun on the Road to World Domination. Evil Plans picks up where Hugh’s last book, Ignore Everybody left off. This book describes how ten years ago, he came up with his very own “evil plan” – to get 10,000 people a year to buy his stuff on the Internet.  So he launched, which quickly gained him a reputation and mass following online for dark humour, common sense marketing and cartoons drawn on the back of business cards. Since those early days, he has set up his own online art gallery that sells his artwork to fans from around the world.

Much like the idea of Cube Grenades, the book is designed to provoke a reaction and stir a call to action. If there’s one key message to take away from the book it is this:

Many people can make “a good living doing what they love, doing something that matters, becoming the person that they were born to be despite the odds. Finding that. Doing that. Discovering “the Hunger” that lives inside us all”.  Think about what you are passionate about, is it better than the job you have today?


Indeed, it is this creative “hunger” that burns inside many of us that Hugh wants to set free. Even though each chapter is just a few pages, it contains golden nuggets of  insight to help you formulate your own evil plan. During my reading, I often paused and went back to previous chapters just so I could wrestle with the points in my head and absorb Hugh’s wise words a little longer. The text and message are both explosive stuff.

Evil Plans is a book I wish I had been given just after I had left university. It is one of those defacto book’s that should be given by ALL mentors to their mentees. The following excerpts are some of my favourites passages in the book. I find them inspiring and I hope you do too.


  • “Seth Godin once said, “You can’t drink any more bottled water than you already do, Or buy more wine, or more tea. You can’t wear more than one pair of shoes at a time, You can’t get two massages at once. So, what grows? What do marketers sell that scales? I’ll tell you what: Belief. Belonging. Mattering. Making a difference. Tribes. We have an unlimited need for this. It’s not what you make, it’s what you believe in [A lesson for all marketers here].


  • We like telling stories because they defy the odds and that is what gives us hope. Hope of filling in our own “narrative gaps”, Whatever your Evil Plan might  be, there has to be some sort of adventure, some sort of “triumph over adversity” baked in. Otherwise, people won’t want to talk about it, and your story won’t spread. People aren’t merely buying your product, your Evil Plan; they are buying the story you are telling… a story that’s not just about you, but about them, and what they could be.

  • How do you get your stuff on the radar screen of the “The Twenty”? By creating brilliant stuff. By creating brilliant stuff that “speaks” to the market in a way it has never been spoken to before. If your stuff is different enough that it changes “the conversation” of your market for the better, other folk will notice even the Big Boys. “Improve the conversation by improving the language”. All great marketing breakthroughs are evolutions of language.

  • If your boss won’t let you articulate your evil plan during company hours, quit. A good boss wants her employees to have their own sense of sovereignty and destiny. Why on earth would you tolerate a boss who didn’t?

  • …once your Evil Plan starts getting traction, you’ll start noticing a much more polarized world begin to emerge, People who love what you do. and people who utterly despise it.


  • Steal time every day. You can only live life to the full in the moment, the past and present are distractions.


  • Your Evil Plan won’t make your life any easier. In fact, it’ll probably make it harder. But knowing that beforehand will make the experience of being alive, here and now, far richer and more enjoyable. I happen to think it’s worth it.


I found the book spoke to me in many different ways. It is a very handy motivational tool and a marketing book. But, mostly it speaks to the hearts and minds of those that have the potential to change the world for the better.  Are you one of these people? I’d like to think I am one of them.  Learn more about the background of book and Hugh’s ideology on his Gaping Void blog.

I highly recommend reading it, a fantastic follow up to Ignore Everybody.

Buy Evil Plans from Amazon below

The Facebook Effect – A Book Review


I first heard about David Kirkpatrick’s book during Robert Scoble’s interview of him at the 2010 F8 Facebook conference. Both Scoble and Kirkpatrick discussed how Facebook was evolving from a social networking platform to an identity platform. Facebook’s recent privacy issues, left me intrigued. Over the past eight months, I had found myself going to my Facebook profile less and less. Instead, I devoted my time in following interesting people on Twitter. So, learning more about Facebook’s plans during F8 and the interesting insights from Scoble and Kirkpatrick led me to purchase the book.

Amazon delivered it within a few short days and upon arrival, I immediately skimmed the Prologue. It became apparent early on, that Kirkpatrick was asked to write this book by Mark Zuckerberg, to pen an historical account on how Facebook started, Zuckerberg’s vision for Facebook and how his friends helped him to change the world by building an infectious social network.

The book itself consists of 17 chapters and is a very engaging read. The 333 pages are packed with some truly interesting insights, and I couldn’t help feeling in awe at the research time and commitment that Kirkpatrick put into this work. Hours of interviews with people in Zuckerberg’s inner circle are recalled and provide a great backdrop to the true story behind the world’s leading social network. Zuckerberg describes Facebook as “a social movement”, not as a publishing platform. He is motivated by a passion for radical transparency. Through the sharing of our data and making our lives publicly available, he believes it turns us into better people. Many people disagree and the recent controversy over privacy controls as only fuelled the fire on what Facebook is sharing about us.

Kirkpatrick has written the definitive book on the company so far. It left me with a deep under­standing of how the company thinks, its philosophies and it stunned me on its true power. Anyone who is interested in Facebook’s history will absolutely love this book, as will those who are interested in contemporary geek culture.

The Facebook Effect is a great weekend read, buy your copy of the book from Amazon here.

Chris Brogan’s Social Media 101 – A Book Review


“Because I didn’t write the book you expected, I thought I’d present you with this book. This book is all about social media”.

These are some of the opening lines from Chris Brogan’s new book entitled “Social Media 101”. If you have already read his last book Trust Agents, you will already be familiar with Brogan’s style – people who put a human face to organisations through the use of social tools.

If you have been reading Brogan’s blog or at least following him on Twitter, many of themes in the book will already be familiar to you. In fact, the book is a collection of 87 of his finest blog posts (edited and updated) and neatly bound into a small book. But don’t that put you off! Brogan adds his own real life experiences to each chapter, and as you become absorbed through the pages, you will gain some excellent insights from his career. Also, make sure you have a notepad and pen handy, because you will end up making a lot of notes. There are also a great number of footnotes in the book too, so plan some time to investigate the resources and links, as these will help you to assemble your very own social media master class.

There are two different types of reading styles for this book. You can either sit down and read the entire book from page to page. Or, you can treat the book as a reference guide, and pick out the chapters that sound the most appealing to you. This is certainly a book to have close by, when you are devising your own social or community strategy. Or, for those moments, when you wonder , “What Would Chris Brogan Do?”.

Social Media 101 may be a little book in size, but it is certainly big on ideas. “Social media lets you go wide, but YOU have to make it go deep” Brogan says. This is certainly true and the book takes the reader beyond “branded social sites” such as Facebook and Twitter. It opens the reader’s mind to explore a wide variety of rich media technologies such as audio, video, media hosting, blogs, listening tools, document sharing and collaboration sites to name but a few. These can all help as effective lead-generation tools. Most of the chapters are full of useful hints and tips such as 50 ways, 50 steps 100 tactics etc.

While I did receive a review copy, courtesy of the great team at @Wiley Books, it’s a book that I would have bought regardless. Frankly, I enjoyed the book because I am not going to read 80+ blog posts on a computer. I spend far too much time in front of an LCD screen anyway! Brogan carefully selected his best posts, added great references and produced a little book easily worth its weight in gold. While you can get most of the content for free, Social Media 101 is money well spent.

With thanks to Julia Lampam at Wiley books for the review copy.

Buy Chris Brogan’s Social Media 101 from Amazon here.

Twitterville – A Book Review


I was fortunate enough* to receive an advance copy of Shel Israel’s – Twitterville recently. The premise of the book is an examination of how businesses (of all sizes) can thrive in the digital space with the micro-blogging tool – Twitter. This is Shel’s second outing as an author, after co-authoring the highly successful book, Naked Conversations with Robert Scoble. After completing the book, I felt strongly that Twitterville was the spiritual successor to Naked Conversations.

If you are looking for a book about how to use Twitter, then unfortunately Twitterville is not designed for you. In my opinion, this is a key strength and helps to separate it from the many other Twitter books already available. Shel’s book contains a number of case studies on how individuals and companies have used Twitter to extend their reach out to lots of people, unlike any tool that they have probably used before.

The case studies featured within the book describe, how both large and small businesses have successfully used Twitter to connect to wider audiences, and the interesting results that they have achieved. Companies such as Dell, Comcast, Evernote, Starbucks and Zappos are all featured among others. Shel does a great job of sharing the insights that each company has learned during their own Twitter experiences. The chapters make great reading and contain a good blend of content versus size. Shel interviewed many people for the book, and I’m surprised at how he managed to keep the book’s size so relatively small!

My only criticism of the book is that Shel often presents an overtly positive Twitter story, while passing over some of the negative aspects of the service. For every positive contribution, there are hundreds of examples of random chatter or shameless promotion. However, Shel does present a chapter that does detail the effect spammers. Therefore, at times the book can appear to be a little one sided. Putting this point aside, if you are looking for a good business book, and are interested in how social media can be applied within a practical commercial setting. I would highly recommend that you buy Twitterville. The book is sure to become a great classic.

My good friend, Steve Clayton sums up the book with a great quote, which you can find on the back cover.


I couldn’t have put it better myself!

Twitterville is available to order from Amazon here.

*With thanks to Maureen Cole at Portfolio

Building a Business Which is Net Positive


I recently finished reading, “Innocent – Our Story and Some Things We’ve Learned”. A great insight into the culture of Innocent Drinks. The book provides an excellent overview of the history of the company and the ethical and environmental stance the business takes in sourcing its ingredients. The book also offers lots of practical business advice for entrepreneurs. If you are a fan of the drinks, this is a must read book!

The video above summarises the Innocent story in under ten minutes and features co-founder Richard Reed.  He discusses five areas in which he believes has made Innocent Drinks a success. These areas include:

1. The nature of things made – 100% natural, 0% concentrate.

2. Procuring ingredients in an ethically and environmentally conscience way.

3. Producing packaging with a lighter foot print  (recyclable/biodegradable).

4. Conserving energy – (refusing to air freight fruit and sourcing locally produced produce).

5. Sharing profits – 10% of profits are donated to good causes.

Overall, by following the guiding principles above, Innocent is building a business which is “net positive”.


Take a look at the video below for a tour of Innocent Drinks at Fruit Towers in West London.