Simple and Focused: Jim Sterne’s Social Media Metrics

Social Media Metrics DiscussionHow refreshing to come to the end of a book on a deep topic and feel like I have a number of actionable take-aways.  Jim Sterne is a founding father of Internet Marketing and his wisdom comes through in his latest book loud and clear.

“Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment” (2010 published by John Wiley & Sons) lays out a solid strategic framework that covers all the Social Media bases.  He makes generous use of the thinking from other thought leaders and their blogs, tweets and reports. As a result, its not a bad way to get an insider’s tour of the technorati of the Social Media Marketing tribe.

Here are the kinds of takeaways you can expect, with a sample from each of the book’s nine chapters.

Chapter 1: Getting Focused. With a focus on the big three (increased revenue, lower cost and improved customer satisfaction), Sterne leads you through the kinds of questions you need to ask to make your goals truly useful to your business. With his tongue-in-cheek example of analysis around the question “Are fat people lazy?”, he shows how discipline and being crystal clear is critical to useful analysis.

Chapter 2: Getting Attention – Reaching Your Audience. This is where Jim Sterne’s years of experience as a sales and marketing pro really shine. He marries the importance of brand recognition with the world of Social Media reach metrics. Using models from a couple of industry leaders (Avinash Kaisuik, Charlene Li and Jason Stamper) he outlines some ways in which you can measure the effectiveness of your reach across blogs, Twitter and Facebook Apps. The chapter wraps with a cautionary tale of why the numbers from different tools don’t usually match up. Learn to live with it.

Chapter 3. Getting Respect – Identifying Influence. How valuable are your followers? Sterne dives into a discussion of the different kinds of influencers in your Social Network and how they drive conversations. This is a great chapter to unpack questions about authority, impact and empty metrics.

Chapter 4. Getting Emotional – Recognizing Sentiment. As a student of Artificial Intelligence in the 80’s, this was a particularly interesting chapter to me. Sentiment Analysis represents the leading edge of Social Media analytics, but is also fraught with the same challenges AI systems have suffered from for decades. Sterne surveys the latest and greatest thinking in this space and explains the pitfalls of having computers decipher the Tweets:

“My crab cakes were bad” from “Skied moguls all morning. That mountain is BAD!”

Chapter 5. Getting Response – Triggering Action. Some very helpful thinking around getting responses that cover Social Bookmarking and the Engagement Food-chain model lead us to understanding of whether our Social Media efforts are generating productive activity.

Chapter 6. Getting the Message – Hearing the Conversation. Sterne tackles the nature of the conversations taking place about your industry and your brand.  Ratings, reviews and recommendations  – and the tools that track them are covered here. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is becoming an industry standard in measuring customer satisfaction for its ability to predict future company success.   Sterne integrates the NPS gracefully into this chapter on listening through Social Media.

Chapter 7. Getting Results – Driving Business Outcomes. Finally, we come to business outcomes and Key Performance Indicators. Tying everything he’s covered back to the goals discussed in Chapter 1, Sterne tackles the challenging topic of Social Media ROI (Sterne’s short answer to this industry hot potato – Yes, you can measure ROI!). Again, some wonderful frameworks are shared from industry experts including Lithium’s model for measuring community health.  Good stuff.

Chapter 8. Getting Buy-In – Convincing Your Colleagues.   How do you get Social Media accepted in your organization?  Sterne dons the cape of the Change Agent and gives us a six step process, complete with a typology of managers we’ll have to navigate to get our Social Media initiative recognized.

Chapter 9.  Getting Ahead – Seeing the Future. A perfect wrap to the book ends with a view towards where this might all be heading.  From patented mind-reading technologies to the Cluetrain-driven shift from business-focus to the consumer-focus,  this chapter had me scrambling for my closest search engine to learn more.

To be sure, Social Media is an exploding arena which our businesses and cultures need to examine and understand more fully.   We need a discussion about tribal marketing and connecting to audiences, we need conversations about good conversations and we need to keep our hearts open to generational differences within Social Media.  However, Social Media Metrics fills an important gap in our understanding of how to operationalize Social Media and begin working it into our daily business.

Have you read this book?   If so, I’d love to hear your impressions in our comment section below.    Please share any other Social Media business books that you think people could benefit from.

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