As someone who works in communications and marketing, and uses social media as an integral part of my job, I was looking forward to reading this book. However, after a great start, with an easy and amiable style of writing, "Social Media Metrics" falls into the trap of so many other books of this genre - long-winded chapters with a healthy sprinkling of marketing acronyms. I'm beginning to think that publishers feel a critical need to pad books out simply for the sake of it.
After reading the first few pages, I was thinking this is a 5 star book. No marketing mumbo jumbo, and right from the off the author tells the reader to expect from the book:
It is about:
Measuring the business value of social media
Measuring the importance of social media to organizations
Making the most of social media for businesses
How to gauge the value of your social media efforts
It is not about:
Measuring social media's size and popularity
Measuring the importance of social media to mankind
Auto-posting and auto-tweeting
How to do social media really well
Initially, the book provides a broad overview of social media and a list of how to measure social media. The book is then divided into several chapters covering: identifying goals; reaching your audience; identifying influence; recognizing sentiment; triggering action; hearing the conversation; driving outcomes; colleagues; the future. The first couple of chapters are short, sharp and to the point. Sterne occasionally refers to additional sources of information (reports, presentations, blogs etc) and experts. These are welcome additions and I found them very useful. Sterne also keeps the "metrics" part of the book simple - providing the reader with some clear direction/tips on measuring their social media strategies and proving plenty of food for thought. For example, unless you have an unlimited budget, focus on areas most critical to your business; and, relating your social media strategy back to the three big goals of business - increasing revenue, reducing costs, increasing customer satisfaction.
However, once you pass the first few chapters, the book suddenly changes - gone are the short/sharp chapters (did someone else write the last 3/4 of the book?). Indeed, the chapters begin to get progressively longer. The author refers to more and more external sources of information, reports, tables, figures etc and the metrics become increasingly complicated and there's way too many of them. Fine if you're Apple, Coca Cola or another mega brand with scores of people working in your social media department. It's not so good for those with smaller budgets and smaller teams. The use of italics to highlight (the very American-based) case studies is also bizarre. Reading long chunks of italic text is difficult. The book would have benefited from more balanced case studies and examples - how does Apple or Coca Cola run its social media strategy compared with a smaller company? There are differences between Europe, Asia and North America in their approaches to social media - how do these differences affect metrics? The constant references to other books made me question if I should have bought this one in the first place.
I also found inconsistencies in how metrics are described - some are given plenty of coverage, others a cursory sentence. It would also have been useful to know which ones are paid for and which are free.
Overall, I found Social Media Metrics to be a useful book, but one that was let down by unnecessarily over-complicating and over-analyzing a topic that already confuses people. It would have benefited from being a lot shorter (one that an entire marketing/communication team could refer to). That the author/publisher had decided to include 4 pages of praise from Sterne's peers at the beginning of the book perhaps should have sent alarm bells ringing.
A lot of the general hints and tips can be found in a more digestible format for free on sites such as Mashable - (...)