Jim Sterne is a unique person in the interactive space. He cares not only about the multitude of marketing strategies, measurement and tactics, but the success of the people. Jim has been helpful to me in ways that are too long to list here and has cared more about the status of certain issues in my life well beyond the level that is required. Let me publicly say “Thank you!”
Jim has written many books and is the founder of the eMetrics conference, the leading web analytics conference. Recently, Jim released the book “Social Media Metrics” with a foreword written by David Meerman Scott. The book provides a useful framework for considering how one should consider measuring social media and other forms of emerging media. Jim graciously agreed to do an interview with me and what resulted is below!
How did your extensive history in metrics and measurement influence your approach to this book on this new medium?
Jim Sterne: Like my previous books, I wanted this one to be for people in the trenches, doing the work as well as the executives they work for. A bit of theory, a healthy dose of strategy and a lot of practical tid bits on how to tell if this stuff is working. I wanted to avoid being one of those experts who is full of sounds and furry delivering thought-provoking sound bites, but no practical knowledge. So all of what I know about measuring online success is included in “Social Media Metrics” as the background. The basics are all there and the rest is delivered almost parenthetically.
What are the biggest hurdles to effective creation and usage of social media metrics?
Jim Sterne: Buy in. Not just upper management comprehension and dedication and not just troop level activity, but actual investment. This stuff requires new jobs with new jobs descriptions to be populated. “What? You mean I have to hire people to do things I’ve never had to hire people to do before??” Yes. That’s a major commitment and faces the same hurdles as when we tried to hire a webmaster, an email manager and a web analyst.
In a recent article, I discussed the tendency for people to lock onto the hot metric – Technorati link counts, RSS subscribers or most currently Twitter followers. How can marketing leaders and web analysts change this dynamic?
Jim Sterne: Once you understand that hard and fast numbers are not hard and fast, you begin to look for the trends and the meaning inside the numbers. That’s great that you got a million people following you an Twitter, but does it make any difference to the bottom line? It’s great that you advertised your shop floor cleaning solution to tens millions of Oprah fan on TV but do any of those viewers have any connection to buying your product? Are your Twitter followers more likely to buy your goods or services? The latest hot metric about the latest, shiniest new tech may be fun, but is it actionable??
If you were asked by a CMO to quickly define social media metrics for a company, what are the questions you’d want to ask and issues you’d want to address?
Jim Sterne: What are your business goals?
What processes and people do you have in place to oversee and manage those goals?
How are they compensated?
What does social media marketing success look like to you?
How much detail do you need to monitor the social media conversation?
What percent of your decision makers know what social media is and why it’s important?
And so forth.
Will mobile social media complicate all of this, simplify it or too early to tell?
Jim Sterne: It will complicate things while we’re getting a handle on it and then simplify things as we come out the other end. We may end up with standards and benchmarks before we’re done. Then, these public, attitudinal metrics can be correlated with direct attitudinal metrics (surveys) and behavioral data and we end up with a really rich, actionable dataset.
Did your views of social media change as you wrote the book and researched the topic? If so, how?
Jim Sterne: My views about how far along we are were established during the research for the book. My optimism that tools and techniques will get better and that there actually are companies that get it out there improved. There are some really bright people who are doing some really impressive things. It’s a joy to learn from them.
After the last emtrics you wrote “I believe the message we have been beaming at the C-Suite is getting a hearing and the resources are about to be significant rather than symbolic.” Could you eloborate on this more please…
Jim Sterne: I’m seeing more and more senior executives dedicating more and more budget and resources to marketing accountability. I’m seeing more top level managers asking better questions about trends rather than numbers and looking for insights rather than benchmarks. That gives me hope.
This concludes the interview with Jim Sterne and I hope you found the strategic information valuable. What else does it make you wish to discuss about this topic?
Here are some other recent interviews and thoughts about (and by) Jim Sterne:
Mixpanel – Analytics for Startup