Home » Ask, Measure, Learn: Book Review

Ask, Measure, Learn: Book Review


Ask, Measure, Learn
Using Social Media Analytics to Understand and Influence Customer Behavior
By Lutz Finger, Soumitra Dutta
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Released: January 2014
Pages: 338


I think the photo I have of the copy given to me speaks volumes of the value of this book.

To be clear I consider myself a digital marketing professional. Part of what I do is advise people/clients/dogs (@WilburBasset) about the best way to utilize social media. Because of the role I have, I try to do as much research and learning as possible, but sometimes, nothing is better than sitting down with a book (to me paper still trumps ebooks for notes) to spend an hour or so every day to read up on.

There is a lot of things in this book that I knew and have relayed, however this book allows me to reference the anecdotes in a formal way as the book itself has a great amount of reference material cited. This is known as footnotes, but I think younger folk might think of this as search. BTW not only is there footnotes on pages but a reference section sorted by chapter. Someone took the time to understand the failings of a lot of reference books and integrate the use of online references with paper

The opening of this book is the best I have seen on any subject. The book explains the theory and needs behind the actual content. It also describes the content not in an index, but in a sorted way so that you can use the book as a manager, a data scientist, someone who wants just the lowdown, or a data novice. The recommendations are ones that fit with me, browse and identify first the chapters you NEED to use, and then start the process of how you want to absorb this information

For me, I am first looking at those related to marketing, but of course I have to look at all chapters as a reviewer.

The content is well put together and well done. I really think that this is something that professionals need to absorb and own. For those who are novices or not enough time, I would say – lean on those who know what they know and are eager to know new information. This book is also one, which is not one that is good for now and not for next year. I think that this is one that will be built upon with newer additions and also a defining book on the subject of social media. I found myself dreaming at night about the subjects I read. Maybe my life could be more interesting, but it shows that the information is not ‘over your head’, nor irrelevant.

The caveat to this book? A lot of the bar graphs do not differentiate the data sets in terms of colour enough as they are in grey. Indeed some have the key and the bars, which should be at least shades of grey, all coming out in the same colour.  I think the eBook version which you can get when you purchase the book should have the colour data charts, but in the book you cannot use them well. The copy however does back up the charts and the charts in a way are used to visualize the copy, but just not in a helpful way.

 Disclaimer: O’Reilly sends me books to review as the Chair of the Halifax Adobe User Group. Regardless, I strive to give my honest opinion – and sometimes as they will attest, it is not so glowing as this review. @WilburBasset is my dog which my wife creates his online life – based on his love of snoozing.



One Response to “Ask, Measure, Learn: Book Review”

  1. Lutz Finger says:

    Thanks Todd – wonderful review (disclaimer: I am the author of the book). I love the picture. Maybe one thing to add regarding the footnote. If one uses the digital version one will find way more links enclosed… we had to remove those as half of the page became full of footnotes.