I've just finished reading Jim Sterne's new (ish) book, Social Media Metrics, How to Measure and Optimize your Marketing Investment, published by Wiley. I recommend it. “We are what we measure” may be a tired cliché, but Sterne nevertheless brings a fresh perspective to the subject and drives home why measurement may be the foundation for building a successful social media program.
The book does a great job of linking social media metrics to things that matter in business, what Sterne describes as The Big Three Goals of increasing revenue, lowering cost, or improving customer satisfaction. These goals may sound lofty or even unattainable to some, but Sterne is, well, stern in his views: If social media can't make a meaningful impact on the business, why bother at all? This tone distinguishes the book from the many volumes of fluffy nonsense written about social media.
From here, Sterne constructs the book around the logical steps necessary to attaining meaningful business results. At each step the book suggests ways to measure activity and drive toward a desired outcome. I was glad Sterne wasn't afraid to address the real costs associated with a rigorous social media program, and take this on as a metric (borrowed from Avinash Kaushik).
The book has its faults. It could have done with an edit, and I wish Sterne had talked more about the practicality of measuring things, and the tools that can support ongoing measurement. I also found issue with some of the discussion around “identifying influence”, but these are small gripes. If you've ever pondered how to measure the meaningful impact of social media on your business, this is a good book to buy.