BACK TO BASICS: Getting to Know Google's Social Analytics
In this article, we’ll take a high-level look into some of the features that the new social analytics reports have to offer to your social media ROI tracking.
Social Analytics Reporting OverviewWhen you first log in to Analytics, you can access all the new social reporting under:
Traffic Sources > Sources> Social
First, make sure you’re viewing the new version of analytics; you can tell if you’re in the new version or not by viewing a link on the top right corner that will say either “Old version” or “New version.” If it says “Old version” that means you would have to click that link to revert back to the old version, so you’re in the new.
Also, if you’re not an administrator on the site’s analytics, we’ve found that could affect your access to the new reporting right now.
There are six major reporting functions underneath the new social tab:
And if you ever need more information about any of the social reports, you can select the link on the left-hand side of the screen for any given report that says “about X report.”
Conversions ReportPerhaps one of the most intriguing reports for marketers and site owners is the Conversion report. This report allows for quantifying social efforts by tying monetary values to the conversions that occur from individual social networks. This report paints of a picture of what social networks are contributing to the bottom line and in what capacity. This data can then be used to understand how to allocate resources to social efforts. (The following snapshot is from Google; click on the image to be taken to original source.)
track conversions, you must have goals set up in your analytics with monetary values associated with them. For ecommerce sites, the monetary values might be a little easier to assign than say, a B2B company. But, Google gives one example in its Analytics support section of how to set up goal values if you’re not working in ecommerce.
The Conversions report shows immediate conversions, dubbed: “Last Interaction Conversions” (when someone visits the site and converts in that visit), and “Assisted Conversions” (when someone visits the site, leaves without converting, but returns later to convert during another visit).
From the Conversions report landing page, you can select an link named “Assisted versus Last Interaction” in the upper-left corner of the graph; this is where you can view the value each social network has played in conversions. This tells you if a social network functioned as a driver of direct conversions or assisted conversions. Google assigns a value to each social network in this equation; a value close to zero shows the network worked in more of a direct-conversion capacity; a value close to one or above shows the network performed more of an assist conversion role.
Pages and Sources ReportsThe pages and sources reports give more detail on how content is performing across social networks, what social networks are driving traffic and what kind of conversations are happening around that content. Understand that it’s easy to get lost in all the data, so the best way to become familiarized is to go in Analytics and start digging and decide what the most important metrics are for your business.
The Pages ReportThe Pages report gives data about how content is performing via social networks. Some of the same metrics that you might be used to are housed here, like pageviews, average visit duration and pages per visit – but with additional social layers. These additional social layers include “Data Hub Activities” and the “Activity Stream” (which we’ll cover later on), and the ability to see which days the visits from social networks peaked and fell against overall site traffic, allowing you to form hypotheses about your social marketing’s impact.
The Activity StreamThis report also includes an exciting feature: the activity stream. The activity stream allows you to access who is sharing your content, what they are saying about it and how it’s being shared – whether it’s an original link posted to their network or a reshare.
This data is only accessible for certain “Social Data Hub” partners of Google. A Data Hub Partner is a social network that has partnered with Google to integrate its activity stream with Google Analytics. More than 20 networks are already participating in the Analytics Social Data Hub.
It’s no surprise that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are absentee in this list, but you can bet Google Plus isn’t. Offering thorough data about the Google Plus community in Analytics is another enticement by Google to drive people to participate in the search engine’s budding social network. In fact, in the Q&A portion of a recent session at Search Engine Strategies New York, Googlers hinted at the ability to integrate other Google Plus data into Analytics such as Google's Ripples tool.
You’ll know if Activity Stream data is available when you see the Social Data Hub icon next to the social network’s name in the table.
Pages > Select URL > Select Data Hub Partner > Select Activity Stream
On this snapshot, you can see icons to the left of the person’s picture. The link means they shared via an original link. The arrows indicate a reshare – in this case from using the +1 feature in Google Plus.
Data Hub ActivitiesThe Data Hub Activities column in the Pages report shows what types of social actions were taken on any given URL (remember, this is for data hub partners only). So for example, how the content was shared on Google+, giving data for number of comments, number of +1s and number of unique posts.
If you want to view what social activities took place on a URL, under the Social Pages report, do this:
Pages > Select URL > Select Social Network (choose Data Hub Partner) > Select Social Network and Action link
The Sources ReportThe Sources report shows how many of the site’s total visits per day, weeks or months are from social sources and what social networks those are. For each social network, you can view metrics like pageviews, average visit duration and pages per visit. This helps to benchmark what your social network return looks like now by answering the question, Where are the primary networks that people are coming from to my site and what content is driving them there?
The Social Plugins ReportIf you have social share buttons on your site, Google Analytics now provides data about which buttons are being used for what content. The landing page of the Social Plugins report offers a graphical snapshot of what days had the most sharing and what content is associated with the most “social activities,” or shares. When you select a URL, you can see the social-sharing activity occurring from your site:
choose social share buttons for your site.
The +1 button data is already integrated into Analytics. To set up tracking for the other social share buttons, follow Google’s directive, which gives the code and steps to take in order to start tracking other social share buttons.
Social Visitors FlowThe Social Visitors Flow report is a helpful data visualization that shows where users came into the site, where they went next, where they may have dropped off and where they ended up last.
This graph can show the behavior of different users coming from different social networks. You can focus in on one network versus another by hovering over the social network and choosing choosing “view only this segment” in the floating menu.
Google’s Tips for Evaluating Social SourcesAs with any other metrics you may be tracking on your site, you must decide what metrics are the most important to your business with regards to social. It’s easy to get lost in the mounds of data, so focusing on the most important few are going to help keep you focused. Google gives some good tips on evaluating social sources in its Analytics help section if you’re just starting out.
For more on Analytics, visit Bruce Clay, Inc.’s Web Analytics pages.