Google Analytics Launches New Social Measurement Suite

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Today at the SES (Search Engine Strategies) conference in New York City, Google Analytics announced a new suite of reports designed to enhance the measurement of Social Media. This is a welcome and exciting development for the Google Analytics product platform, as it makes analyzing and attributing the value contributed by Social Media easier and faster to accomplish.

What the New Social Reports Contain

The new suite of Social Media measurement reports contain a litany of capabilities, including:
  • Consolidated reports for Social websites referring traffic to your site
  • Social "value" visualizations and reports showing value attribution to Socially engaged visits
  • Easy identification of entrance points for socially referred visits
  • Social conversion reports easily showing conversions originating from Social last-touch sources
  • Social plugin tracking - reporting interactions with Social plugins on your site
  • Off-site Social Activity stream insights
  • Social visitors flow

What Matters Most in these New Reports

Frankly, much of the data in these new reports isn't necessarily "new" to Google Analytics. For example, identifying landing pages for visits from Social sites could be done before - it was just *really really* hard to do. These new reports make finding this valuable data much easier and faster. What's most interesting in these reports, in my perspective, is the blending of the previously announced "Social Data Hub" capabilities with the Social Activity Stream reports. This unique report set brings measurement of interactions occurring outside your website into Google Analytics. This is a huge development. One of the biggest challenges for Web Analytics (now being called "digital analytics") is measuring beyond the website (perhaps part of the name change to digital). Think about it, someone could have an interaction with or about your brand without ever touching your website. Those interactions are important to quantify because they impact your business and play a role in overall marketing effectiveness. This new report in Google Analytics begins to quantify just that, and blend the data with additional insights captured from on-site interaction.

Google Analytics and Innovation

I'm often asked by clients and prospective clients about whether or not Google Analytics is a good investment when it comes to picking a long-term partner for digital analytics. Let's face it, your vendor is a big investment and commitment. Companies ought to ask if the vendor they choose to invest in implementing and using is a good pick. In responding to this question, I try to be as unbiased as I can, being a blatant Google Analytics fan. My approach is to begin with the question: "what makes a good vendor/partner?" A good vendor to partner with is one that will continue to keep up with the pace of change in the digital world, and even lead the pack in terms of innovation. A good vendor/partner is one that will have the resources to invest in its product, and a position within the industry to innovate and leverage. While there are many startups out there doing really exciting things - and I'm a big fan of small companies and startups, being the owner of one - I have to say that this is one area where looking to a bigger player (i.e. a Google, Adobe, IBM, etc.) is probably a safer bet. But, there's a threat with big companies - they move slowly. That's where I see Google Analytics as a very strong pick - it's backed by a huge company with huge resources and huge depth of experience in the digital/online space - AND it is rapidly innovating and leading the pace in new features. Look over the last year at product releases for Google Analytics and you'll see what I mean.

What to do about Social Measurement Reports

What should you do given the release of these new reports? A good starting place is to get Google Analytics, if you don't already have it, or invest in ensuring your implementation of Google Analytics is solid and producing accurate data. Bad data will produce bad reports - even shiny new social media reports will be tainted if your data is inaccurate or irrelevant to your business. Our team can help improve your GA strategy and implementation, or check out training resources like the GAUGE conference I founded. Happy analyzing! -Caleb