Google Analytics has recently launched a new set of reports called Social reports, which can be used to analyze in-site and off-site interactions with a brand on Social Networks. I covered the launch with an in-depth post about all reports available and their meaning.
In this post I will focus on how to use Google Analytics in order to understand Google+ in-site interactions (e.g. +1 button clicks) and off-site interactions (e.g. comments, posts, shares that happened on Google+).
Note 1: Since Google Analytics is developed at a very quick pace, I will be updating this article whenever something new is available. If you believe something is missing please let me know.
Note 2: The onbe.co links shared below should lead you to the specific report I discuss, but you need to be logged in to Google Analytics in the same browser. In addition, please note that not everyone has access to this yet, but soon it will be public.
Before I start discussing the Social reports, I would like to emphasize that if you do not have goals configured on Google Analytics, you should leave this article and do that right now, otherwise the reports won't be useful (here is a step-by-step guide). If you don't have goals set up, you shouldn't care about the social reports: you will get somewhere anyway (the question is where).
According to Google Analytics, the Social Sources report (find it at http://onbe.co/Hb7lnF), the first in the list of Social reports, is described as follows:
The Sources report shows engagement metrics (Pageviews, Avg. Time on Site, Pages/Visit) for traffic from each social network. This report is also enhanced with off-site data for social data hub partner networks. Click on a partner network to see the URLs that were shared on that site, how they were shared (for example, via a "+1" or "reshare" action), and the conversations that took place about your content.
In this report we will see the number of visitors that came through Google+, the number of pageviews that they saw, time on site and number of pages per visit. Nothing surprising.
However, since Google+ is part of the Social Data Hub, we can click through to get more detailed data on what kinds of interaction happened off-site, i.e. on plus.google.com. As you will see, when clicking through to the Google+ row (see screenshot above) we will have two reports on the Social Referral tab: Google+ Shared URL and Google+ Social Network and Action (the tabs can be found above the graph, and the reports below the graph).
The Google+ Shared URL report will show you which URLs were shared in Google+ and what traffic they drove. It will also provide a Data Hub Activities metric, which tells you how many interactions they drove on Google+ including: +1, post, comment and reshare.
If you click on the link to Social Network and Action (see arrow below), you will be able to see all interactions performed on Google Plus, segmented by action type.
Moving over to real interactions with real people. The Activity Streams report (find it at http://onbe.co/Hb7c3v) allows us to see the conversations as they happened inside Google+. The conversations are organized starting from the newest and, as we can see in the screenshot below, we can do the following actions for each conversation:
This report uses the same functionality as the Multi-Channel Funnels. It provides both the last touch interaction value (i.e. conversions that happened in a visit attributed to Google+) and also the assissted value (i.e. conversions that happened in a visit following the visit from Google+). Below is a screenshot of how it looks and the explanation given by Google about the metrics in the chart. You can find the report at http://onbe.co/GWyJHr.
Assisted Conversions and Assisted Conversion Value: This is the number (and monetary value) of sales and conversions the social network assisted. An assist occurs when someone visits your site, leaves without converting, but returns later to convert during a subsequent visit. The higher these numbers, the more important the assist role of the social network.
Last Interaction Conversions and Last Interaction Conversion Value: This is the number (and monetary value) of last click sales and conversions. When someone visits your site and converts, the visit is considered a last click. The higher these numbers, the more important the social network’s role in driving completion of sales and conversions.
Assisted/Last Interaction Conversions: This ratio summarizes the social network’s overall role. A value close to 0 indicates that the social network functioned primarily in a last click capacity. A value close to 1 indicates that the social network functioned equally in an assist and a last click capacity. The more this value exceeds 1, the more the social network functioned in an assist capacity.
The Social Plugins report (find it at http://onbe.co/GXYJAN) provides an account of the social actions that happened inside the website and in which pages they occur. +1 buttons spread in the website content will be available in this report automagically (for other social buttons, coding is required.)
This report uses the same functionality used in the flow visualization report released by Google in 2011. Basically, it provides the path through which visitors experienced the website. In this report we will be able to segment just by visits originating from Google+. You can find the report at http://onbe.co/GXYQMN
As seen above, Google Analytics has created a robust tracking and analysis platform for Google+, which puts Google+ in an excellent position when it comes to other Social Networks. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are provide very few data about what happens inside their walls, which makes investments less measurable. If marketers can easily measure how well each social networks perform, more resources might be devoted to them.
According to Phil Mui, Google Analytics group product manager, the "goal with the new reports is to tie social activities and referrals to measurable, meaningful economic value so businesses can more effectively evaluate which social channels are impacting their bottom line, and which tactics will lead to measurable economic value.” This is certainly true for Google+ now.