Have You Picked Up a Copy of “Social Media Metrics Secrets” Yet?

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John Lovett’s Social Media Metrics Secrets hit the bookshelves (Kindle-shelves) earlier this month, and it’s a must-read for anyone who is grappling with the world of social media measurement. It’s a hefty tome as business books go, in that Lovett comes at each of the different topics he covers from multiple angles, including excerpting blog posts written by others and recapping conversations and interviews he conducted with a range of experts.

As such, it’s simply not practical to provide an effective recap of the entire book. Rather, I’ll give my take on the general topics the book tackles, and then likely have some subsequent posts diving in deeper as I try to put specific sections into action.

Part I

The first three chapters of the book are foundational material, in that they lay out a lot of the “why you should care about social media,” as well as set expectations for what isn’t possible with social media data (calculating a hard ROI for every activity) as well as what is possible (moving beyond “counting metrics” to “outcome metrics” to enable meaningful and actionable data usage). Early on, Lovett notes:

Analytics solutions and social media monitoring tools are often sold with the promise that “actionable information is just a click away,” a promise that an increasing number of companies have now realized is not usually the case.

That encapsulates, by extension, much of the theme of the first part of the book — that it requires that a range of emerging tools, skills, processes, and organizational structures to come together to make social media investments truly data-driven activities. In addition to the social analytics platforms that Lovett discusses in greater detail later in the book, he makes a case for data visualization as a key way to make reams of social media data comprehensible, and he paints a picture of a “social media virtual network operations center” — a social media command center that harnesses the right streams of near real-time social media data, presents that data in a way that is meaningful, and has the right people in place with effective processes for putting that information to use.

Part II

In Part II of the book, Lovett starts with some basics that will be very familiar to anyone who operates in the world of performance measurement — aligning key metrics to business objectives, using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Times) methodology (although Lovett extends this to be “SMARTER” by adding “Evaluate” and “Reevaluate) for establishing meaningful goals and objectives, understanding the difference between accuracy and precision, and so on. This material is presented with a very specific eye towards social media, and then extended to provide a list common/likely business objectives for social media, which each objective drilled into to identify meaningful measures.

These objectives build directly on the work that Lovett did with Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter Group in the spring of 2010 when they published their Social Marketing Analytics: A New Framework for Measuring Results in Social Media paper. In the book, Lovett substantially extends his thinking on that framework — broadening from four common social media objectives to six, laying out the “outcome measures” that apply for each objective, and then providing pseudo-formulas for getting to those measures (pseudo-formulas only because Lovett emphasizes the need for social media strategies to not be premised on a single channel such as Facebook or Twitter, and he also didn’t want the book to be wholly outdated by the time it was published — the formulas are explicitly not channel-specific, but anyone who is familiar with a given channel will be well-armed with the tools to develop specific formulas that ladder up to appropriate outcome measures). In short, Chapter 5 is one area that warrants a highlighter, a notepad, and multiple reads.

Part III

Part III of the book really covers three very different topics:

  • Actually demonstrating meaningful results — looking at how to get from the ask of “what’s the hard ROI?” to an answer that is satisfactory and useful, if not a “simple formula” that the requestor wishes for; Lovett devotes some time to explaining the now-generally-accepted realization that the classic marketing funnel no longer applies, and then extends that thinking to demonstrate what will/will not work when it comes to calculating social media ROI
  • Social analytics tools — while Lovett makes the point repeatedly that there are hundreds of tools out there, which can be overwhelming, he nonetheless managed to narrow down a list of seven leading platforms (Alterian SM2, Converseon, Cymfony, Lithium, Radian6, Sysomos, and Trendrr) and conducted an extensive evaluation of them. He includes how that evaluation was organized and the results of the analysis in Chapter 8. While the information is sufficiently detailed that a company could simply take his list and choose a platform, the evaluation is set up as an illustration of what should go into a selection process, so it’s a boon to anyone who has been handed the task of “picking the best tool (for our unique situation).”
  • Consumer privacy — this is a very hot topic, and it’s a messy area, so Lovett tries to lay out the different aspects of the situation and what needs to happen to get to some reasonably workable resolution over the next few years. It’s a portion of the book that I’ve already referenced and quoted internally, as it is very easy for marketers and vendors to get caught up in the cool ways they can make content more relevant…without thinking through whether consumers would be okay with those uses of the data

After reading the book once, I’ve already found myself flipping back to certain sections to the point that I’ve got Post Its coming out of it to mark specific pages. Overall, the book is sufficiently modular that individual chapters (and even portions of chapters) stand alone.

Buy it. Buy it now!


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  1. Great review!
    I’m currently waiting on my copy of the book, but Sysomos is quite happy to be included in this book. Especially after this review.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

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