As a marketer one of the key reasons I prefer online marketing to traditional advertising mediums such as radio and print is because of the transparency and measurability it offers. However, since the advent of Social Media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn a key question that’s often been posed (but has rarely been able to be answered with any degree of surety) is ‘how can we quantify the value of our Social Media marketing efforts in terms of driving more conversions via our website?’
Up until now accurate measurement of Social Media has been a real challenge for analysts, marketers and business owners. Sure, there are a number of useful third party tool and advanced segments/custom reports that can be compiled within Google Analytics in order to give more understanding, but it always felt like we weren’t seeing the complete picture. Thankfully, Google’s recent launch of a new set of Social Media reports within Google Analytics mean that measuring the return from Social Media just got a whole lot more meaningful (not to mention much easier too).
According to Google’s official release from the Google Analytics blog the new Social Reports section aims to help publishers identify the value of traffic coming from each Social Network and measure the role that Social Networks play in driving direct conversions or contributing to future conversions. From this information publishers will be better equipped to make better data-driven decisions about their Social Media Marketing campaigns.
Before introducing some of the new Social Media reports I must stress that to get the most out of them (or any Google Analytics reporting for that matter) it’s vital that you’ve defined and set up conversion goals in Google Analytics. For example, a typical conversion goal might be the successful submission of your Contact Us form, or a newsletter sign-up, or a successful purchase/booking etc. Only once you have created relevant goals can you then determine how well traffic generated via Social Media is performing in terms of achieving your predefined goals.
The new Social Reports are being rolled out to all users over the next month and will be available under the “Social” menu item within the Traffic Sources section of the 'Standard Reporting' tab.
Included in this section are the following reports: Overview, Sources, Pages, Conversions, Social Plugins and Social Visitor Flow. Read on to find out more about some of the most interesting features of the new reports.
The overview report offers a mini-dashboard from which you can get a snapshot of all reports that can be found in the social media section of Google Analytics. The ‘Social Value’ section of this report is particularly useful and makes it possible to see how much conversation value is generated from the different Social Media traffic sources compared to the total conversion value from all traffic sources while also highlighting them as assisted social conversions and last interaction social conversions.
The Sources Report displays the number of visits and ‘engagement metrics’ such as page views, duration of visit and number of pages viewed per visit for each Social Media platform. For simplicity Google combines different URLs that can be used to send traffic from one Social Media network. For example, Facebook may send traffic from both facebook.com and m.facebook.com. Google combines traffic from both of these sources under the label of ‘Facebook’.
For Social Media platform belonging to the ‘Social Data Hub’ you will also see an icon on the right hand side of the Social Network name. When clicked this icon reveals additional details about the traffic coming to your site from that particular Social Network.
The Social Media Conversions report lets us see how many goal conversions that take place on the website as a result of traffic coming via the various Social Media platforms. As mentioned earlier in this post, to get the most out of this report it is vital that you’ve got Google Analytics goals in place. In addition to showing which social sources drove regular goal conversions it also shows ecommerce reporting (if enabled) for each Social Network.
As I’ve shown in this post, Google Analytics’ new Social Media Reports offer a great deal more data and insight than previously available. It’s been a long time coming but we’re really excited about the opportunities this presents in terms of getting a clear and accurate understanding of how our Social Media Marketing efforts are generating real value that's easy to measure.