Philip Sheldrake

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Social Media Analytics

Are you savvy when it comes to social analytics? If you're a PR practitioner, the answer to this question must be YES.

Marshall Sponder visited London last week as part of his tour promoting his new book, Social Media Analytics – Effective Tools for Building, Interpreting, and Using Metrics (ISBN 978-0-07-176829-0). Having read a draft manuscript of the book, a quote of mine appears on the front cover: "Ignoring this book is akin to ignoring your market."

Social Media Analytics, Marshall SponderThere is no better independent authority on the tools and techniques than Marshall. Whilst some pundits simply maintain lists of social analytics vendors with some basic feature comparison tables, Marshall has actually used many of them for real. Moreover, he has a peculiar ability to prod the vendors and the engineers that build these services, to get under the hood and separate the actual capabilities from the marketing claims.

Marshall is not, however, a public relations practitioner or management consultant. This book does not provide a strategic framework for the integration of social analytics into your organisation. It does not address important issues such as privacy (of customers, employees and the wider public) or ethics. It doesn't attempt to define a detailed taxonomy of the analytics services out there, or make this a comprehensive market review.

Rather, Marshall tells it how he sees it as a straight forward analyst guy. He simply picks through some of the services he finds most interesting. Here's what he's worked with, here's what some of the vendors have to say, and here's the state of play. He reviews dashboards (which he calls scorecards). He touches upon the increasing trend of combining social analytics with CRM and the nascent power of connecting social analytics into the retail environment.

Marshall and I disagree on the measurement and evaluation of ROI (return on investment) and the role and treatment of so-called 'influencers'. We're poles apart it seems (and my full 'book blurb' inside the cover makes this clear). Yet I recommend this book whole heartedly because it's a brain dump from the best social analyst savant I know. It will be an eye-opener for those just coming to this field or, indeed, a year or two into it.

On a related note, check out Brian Solis' recent interview with Marcel LeBrun, SVP and GM, Salesforce Radian6.

[originally written for the CIPR Friday Roundup]