Google have released an update to their Google Analytics platform allowing users to track the effect social media has on unique visits to their website. For those not in the know, Google Analytics provides you with a tracking code to embed in your website’s template, allows you to identify key actions you want to track and collates information on visitors into basic reports. With the ability to incorporate Google AdWords and AdSense, you can track which advertisements or affiliate links are providing the most business. With customisable reports, flash tracking and the ability to create scheduled reports that can be emailed to stakeholders, Google Analytics is a great tool for gathering information on your visitors.
Google’s latest development is designed to help marketers track the value of various social media channels and help you determine which are working, and why, and which aren’t (and why). Google’s Social Analytics breaks down the visitor information in to four components; sources, social plugins, pages and conversions, which together define your social impact. Basically put, it tracks links to your content that your visitors have shared elsewhere so that you can see who is visiting, from where, what content of yours they’re sharing and how many of those visitors are converting to a transaction. Essentially, it tells you the exact value of a tweet or Facebook like and how visitors are interacting with your content via social media networks.
Social media has become a huge industry over the last few years, pushing content to users who ordinarily would have no exposure to those websites. Adding social plugins such as the Facebook like, the Twitter or Google +1 buttons to your sites has meant that your business had the potential to be shared with users without the need for additional advertising. But tracking the success of those plugins, along with any marketing pushes through YouTube, Pinterest or other social networks, and the value of each has always proven to be difficult.
Google Social Analytics hopes to help place a value on each social network and break down conversions in to last interaction social conversions and assisted social conversions. Any visitor that clicks over to your site from a social network and makes a purchase falls in the former category, if that same visitor clicks over but returns later and makes a purchase they would fall in the latter, which gives you a way to track conversions from social sites that wouldn’t normally be available.
Google Social Analytics overview page gives you a brief look at basic numbers; visits, visits via social referral, conversions and the two types of conversion mentioned above. Through the use of customised goals set by yourself, Google can help you track visitors and place a value on each visit. Those goals provide information on how well your site fulfils business objectives and tracks when visitors complete a desired action on your site, such as a download or registration. And finally, the Activity Stream tab allows you to see what people are saying about your site on social networks and works with any social network connected to Google’s Social Data Hub (Digg, Disqus, Reddit and Google+ are the big names there).
As a method for tracking information previously unrecorded and placing a value on social media click throughs, Google’s Social Analytics will prove incredibly useful in helping companies to decide if money spent on social network campaigns on, for example, Twitter and Facebook, are actually value for money. Google have put together extensive guides to help users navigate the new update and Social Analytics can now be found in the standard reporting section of Google Analytics.