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New Google Analytics Social Reports: Measure SMM Value, View Streams

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The Google Analytics team has just announced a new set of reports to help marketers more accurately measure the actual value of social media. Speaking at SES New York this morning, Google shared the news of the immediate, incremental launch of their new Social Reports.

In an interview with Search Engine Watch, Group Product Manager Phil Mui explained how the new Google Analytics social reports allow marketers to measure both the last-click and the “assisted” upper-funnel value of social.

“We are trying to bring together both the on and off-site social actions so marketers have a better idea of how the social web affects their product or brand,” Mui explained. “The new social reports take into account the total number of conversions that happen to visitors that had touched a social media channel connected with the account.”

In their blog post announcing the launch, the Google Analytics team explains how the new social reports bridge the gap between social media and important business metrics. They wanted to help with three things, they said:

  • Identifying the full value of traffic coming from social sites and measure how they lead to direct conversions or assist in future conversions
  • Understanding social activities happening both on and off of your site to help you optimize user engagement and increase social key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Making better, more efficient data-driven decisions in your social media marketing programs

It’s difficult to assign value to social channels and campaigns, as evidenced by the sheer amount of tools trying to solve the social ROI challenge. Social isn't easily linked to outcomes, Mui pointed out; upper funnel impact is hard to capture and understand. Social data silos also make it difficult to aggregate and compare activity across channels.

Conversion Reports: Set Goals and Measure Value on Each Channel

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The new social conversions report shows the value of each conversion and allows users to drill down into Assisted vs. Last Interaction Conversions for comparison. It shows Assisted Conversions, Assisted Conversion Value, Last Interaction Conversion, Last Interaction Conversion Value, and Assisted/Last Interaction Conversions, as shown above.

This new report answers the question: What is the value of this specific network? In their blog post Google reminds users: “Remember that you need to define goals and goal values in order to see data in this report, so tailor it to the things that matter to your business. Networks with a higher assisted/last interaction conversions ratio provide greater assisted conversions.”

Google Analytics Social Visitors Flow Pulls Data from Over 400 Channels

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The new Social section in Google Analytics breaks down into sections/reports for an Overview, Sources, Pages, Conversions, Social Plugins, and Social Visitors Flow. Currently, they are tracking over 400 networks from around the world on the Visitor Flow side. This report helps you understand where traffic is coming from and how visitors flow through the site, illustrated in a flow chart, as shown above.

Some of the networks Google is tracking for these reports are Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Quora, to name just a few.

Social Streams Appear Within Google Analytics

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Actual conversations and comments are pulled into GA from Data Hub Partners. Integration of social data hub data applies to public data only; if Google can crawl it on the public web, they can show it. If users are sharing something with a private group on Google+, for example, that won’t show in these new reports.

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The Social Plugins report allows marketers access to metrics showing how, when, and where published content is being shared, through social plugins like the +1 button or Share This.

Social Sources Reports Dig Deeper With Google’s Social Data Hub Partners

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The Social Sources report initially shows two graphs: All Visits and Social Visits via Referral. It shows segmentation of Visits, Pageviews, Avg. Time on Site, and Pages/Visit per Originating Social Network. Users can drill down into each network to see Visits, Pageviews, Avg. Time on Site, Data Hub Activities, and Pages/Visit per activity on that social network.

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Icons display which of the channels are Social Data Hub Partners such as Google+, Blogger, or Google Groups. Beyond the obvious Google properties, other partners at launch include WordPress, Reddit, TypePad, Gigya, and LiveFire, among others. With these partners, Google can share even deeper information about the activities and conversations happening on the site through the Activities Streams report.

“The idea behind the social data hub is that any network can push the data and Google Analytics will do the legwork,” Mui told us. “We would love to have as many networks as we can participate.”

Social data will be available as part of the Google Analytics exports API. Users can easily export to other programs and mash up with other data, such as Facebook Insights. Facebook is not a Social Data Hub Partner, though Mui noted, “We would love to work with Facebook to find a better way to incorporate their data as well.”

An incremental rollout starts tomorrow; the new reports will become available to all users over the next couple of weeks.


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