Since businesses first began integrating social into their marketing efforts, the challenge has always been in finding meaningful ways to quantify results. Too often this has left marketers unsure of the correlations between social media marketing efforts and the bottom line, with loose meanings for social's ROI based on a collection of analytic tools that leave too much to the imagination.
Announced just last week at SES New York, a new Google Analytics update aims to take all the mystery and guesswork out of tracking social ROI.
Unlike other available social analytic tools, synonymous with ambiguous KPIs whose impact aren’t so clear – such as number of Facebook Likes or Twitter Retweets – Google’s new Social Reports directly tie social media spend to the bottom line by tracking and revealing how much revenue different social channels generate for your business. To learn how, check out Google's blog post highlighting the update. In addition to breaking down the upcoming features, they've also provided a few screenshots of the new reports.
If the update works as claimed, the benefits of Social Reports will include:
- An Overview report that allows you to see at a glance how much conversion value is generated from your social channels.
- A Conversions report that allows you to measure the value of each individual social channel by seeing the conversion rates of each network and the dollar value they drive to your business.
- A Social report that shows engagement and conversation metrics for each social network so you can see how people are interacting with your content and whether its leading to a desired outcome.
- A Social Plugin report that shows which of your articles are receiving the most engagement and on which social channels as well as what comments your readers are making.
With new social channels appearing at what often feels like a viral rate, it has always been a lot of work on our end to identify which add value to a given business, and which are just marketing black holes. Theoretically, this series of Social Reports should help any marketer determine what type of content to continue publishing, and in which social channel, to effectively drive conversions while appealing to the target audience’s social needs and preferences. Since Google Analytics is free and accessible to anyone, it will be interesting to see how having this knowledge of which social impressions and platforms led to conversions is going to impact user experience design on a broader scale as marketers begin refocusing their social efforts in a manner more tailored to what they see is working.
But if you’re wondering if this update sounds a little too good to be true, you’re probably right. We identified a few limitations of Social Reports, the main ones being:
- Google Analytics lacks partnerships with Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Though it’s partnered with hundreds of other social platforms to provide metrics on off-page social actions, these three channels account for over 85% of social traffic. Without them, the Social Plugins feature isn’t as conclusive as it’s hyped to be.
- Google Analytics social data is URL-based. This means it only registers data if shared with http:// in front. To get around this issue, you'll need to supplement the tool with analytics from third-party tracking systems like Sysomos or Radian6.
- Google Analytics isn't yet integrated with URL shorteners such as t.co, bit.ly, and ow.ly. This prevents Social Reports from tracking shortened links, a flaw that compromises its usefulness with Twitter.
Though it may not yet be the all-encompassing solution for tracking social ROI, Google Analytics’ Social Reports should still lead to some amazing data analysis opportunities that have some awesome potential to help refine your marketing strategies and improve your user experience design to the benefit of your bottom line. An incremental rollout of Social Reports is already underway and the complete set of features should become available to all Google Analytics users over the next few weeks. Do you plan on adding Social Reports to your social toolbox?