It’s not too often that I’m forced to choose between the categories of “Website Analytics” and “Social Media Marketing” for one of our Rise to the Top blog posts. That said determining the value and ROI of social media has been a problem that’s plagued marketers since the medium’s inception. Recent figures demonstrate that CMOs spend 7.4% of their total marketing budgets on social media with this number expected to rise to 10.8% this year. Whether that’s money that goes directly into social advertising or the people who manage social, it’s a sizable amount; and as social budgets get bigger, so will the expected ROI.
Google has decided to address this common concern by integrating an unprecedented amount of social network data into its extremely popular Google Analytics product. In a blog post earlier today, Google announced changes to the platform that include: an Overview Report (to see social media’s influence on conversions); Social Sources (displays engagement metrics for different social networks); Social Plugins (finds your most shared content); and Activity Stream (to find out what’s happening off of your website).
Social media is often an upper funnel touch point that traditional reporting and metrics find hard to track. It’s difficult as social media marketers to tell which channels are the most effective at driving conversions. Where we’re really good at things like growing a fanbase, creating content and measuring engagement most social media managers have a harder time with the ROI side of the equation because the measurement tools simply aren’t there. Google’s announcement takes us one step closer to understanding social’s ROI and gives us actionable insights when certain platforms aren’t effective and of course rewards us when social media contributes to conversions.
According to Google the new social reporting feature in Analytics will do the following:
- Identify the full value of traffic coming from social sites and measure how they lead to direct conversions or assist in future conversions
- Understand social activities happening both on and off of your site to help you optimize user engagement and increase social key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Make better, more efficient data-driven decisions in your social media marketing programs
1.) The Overview Report – Social’s Impact on Conversions
Above we see that there are a total of 2,375 conversions that came directly from a social source e.g. a Facebook ad or branded site. The second figure is where things get interesting: “Assisted Social Conversions.” This number represents people who have converted and have touched a social media property along the way.
2.) Social Sources – Engagement and Conversions Data for Each Social Network
According to Google this report “shows engagement and conversion metrics for each social network so you can see how people are interacting with your content and whether it’s leading to a desired outcome.”
Let’s say you’re running a social campaign to promote different products; through Social Visitor Flow you can see ” whether visitors from each social network entered your site through these product pages and whether they continued on to other parts of the site or whether they exited.”
3.) Social Plugins – Discover How Your Content Is Shared On and Off Your Site
Having social media buttons on your blog is a great starting point on the path of discovering where your content is being shared. The new Social Plugin Report takes this one step further.
This is perfect for determining your best content in hopes of creating content with similar themes that people will find useful and want to share. You can use this in addition to measuring unique views per post. This report can also help you test different layouts and placements of sharing buttons to figure out which perform best.
4.) Activity Stream – Monitor What People Are Saying About You Off Site
This report allows you to monitor conversations about your brand that take place away from your social media properties. Previously this was the domain of paid social media monitoring tools like Radian6, now it’s available in Google Analytics!
This only applies to content that’s shared publicly (crawlable, as with Radian6). Currently this data is restricted to Google’s Social Data Hub partners which exclude Facebook and Twitter, but include Reddit, Meetup and of course Google+.
Bring on the Data!
Before you begin, there is work that needs to be done before all of this is set up. From Google: “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.”
The new social reports will be rolled out to all users over the next few weeks (beginning March 20th 2012). You’ll be able to find it under the Standard Reporting Tab.