Google Analytics has announced new social reports today, designed to help marketers measure the return on investment for social media activities.
“Many social measurement tools focus on social listening by monitoring keywords and buzz. While they’re helpful in many cases, these tools don’t connect the dots to show how investments in different social channels ultimately lead to sales or business objectives,” said Phil Mui, Google Analytics group product manager, explaining how the new tool is designed to go beyond listening.
“Our goal with the new reports is to tie social activities and referrals to measurable, meaningful economic value so businesses can more effectively evaluate which social channels are impacting their bottom line, and which tactics will lead to measurable economic value,” Mui said.
The New Social Reports
The new set of reports will be available under the “Social” tab in Google Analytics. Some may see them today, and they should roll out to all users in the coming weeks.
Current reports under Social include:
After the change, the new set of reports will be:
- Social Plugins
- Social Visitor Flow
Below is a preview of each of the new reports.
As in most overview reports in Google Analytics, this view is a mini-dashboard containing data from all the other social reports (click to enlarge the image):
It also contains a Social Value visualization of how social networks contribute to website conversions as last source as opposed to somewhere else in the path to funnel:
See the Sources and Conversions reports sections below for a deeper explanation of what’s in the Social Value overview.
This report shows the source activity based on social referrers (click to enlarge):
Google unifies different URLs that can be used to send traffic from one social network. For example, Twitter may send traffic from both twitter.com and t.co. Traffic from both sources are combined under the category of Twitter).
For participating Social Data Hub partners (as explained at the end of this story), there’s a prominent icon to show users that these networks offer additional information when drilling down:
For Google+, one of the partners, it will show detailed information about each URL such as +1, posts, reshares and comments. The actual conversations can be seen within Google Analytics itself, for example (click to enlarge):
Each Social Data Hub partner may report different data sets.
This report will show social activity per page, what happened on the site and off, offsite when it comes to specific website content. Here’s an example of how it looks when you drill-down into stats for a particular page (click to enlarge):
The Conversions Report provides a quick view of which social sources drove conversions on the site. It shows both regular goals and ecommerce, enabling a quick view of which social sources create value (click to enlarge):
The report also shows key metrics based on last-click conversion rate (as in all standard reports), and it also provides “conversion assists”, similar to multi-channel funnels, but customized for social sources (click to enlarge):
This report is seen for all networks, whether they are part of the Social Data Hub or not.
Social Plugins Report
This report is very similar to what is offered today in the Social Action reports, a summary of pages and the social activity that happened when it comes to social plugins in the site, such as clicking on a like, tweet or +1 button:
Social Visitors Flow Report
A version of the Visitors Flow feature modified to social sources:
Basically, it enables marketers to understand the path followed by website visitors coming from social sources.
Integrating Social Data Hub
As you can see, some sections of the reports have the ability to drill-down further into data and reflect things like comments, shares or likes right within Google Analytics. This is possible because of Social Data Hub, an initiative that Google launched last December that allows social networks to send activity into Google Analytics.
Large networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have stayed out Social Data Hub, so the new social reports won’t include some of their activity. But most of the reports work eve without Social Data Hub participation, by tapping into referrer data.
Social Data Hub Partners: Who’s In?
According to the Google Analytics code site, the following networks are participating in Social Data Hub:
- Google Groups
- Read It Later
- Screen Rant
Will Others Join?
How about the major companies that aren’t taking part? As I wrote last December in my analysis of Social Data Hub:
If Google manages to bring in substantial players, the ones that don’t join the initiative will have a disadvantage, as their data will not be seen by marketers using Google Analytics. Professionals usually like to have all their efforts measured, so they might very well focus more on measurable networks.
Since then, the number of companies has doubled. But what might really drive the big players to join up are the new reports out today. If marketers can easily measure how well those social networks perform, more resources might be devoted to them. Better visibility within Google Analytics might be the carrot to attract the hold-outs.
- Google Analytics Gets Social Engagement Reporting
- Google Analytics Announces Social Data Hub, Hopes To Centralize All Social Metrics
- Google Analytics Improves User Interface
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