Using Google Analytics social reports for better insights

Social media marketers rejoiced when Google launched their social reports features, a new addition to Google Analytics, in March 2012. With this launch, Google finally closed the loop between social media strategy and social media ROI.

One year later, in March 2013, Google added more reporting options to its social reports, making them a robust, free platform for marketers.

Social Reports by Google are segmented into three basic kinds of reports. The Conversions Report shows the actual or assigned monetary value of each referral, from each social network. The Social Sources Report shows the flow of visitors on your site when they enter via a social funnel. The Social Sharing Report helps identify your most popular content and most often used social buttons for sharing that content.

Let’s take a deeper look at what each report offers.

Conversions Report

To realize the power of Google’s Conversion Report, you must set goals or ecommerce transactions. Your goals could be monetary (ie.: a customer clicks on the Buy button), or they could be non-monetary (ie.: when a customer signs up to your newsletter).

Google Analytics Social Reports shows conversion measurement

Image from Google Analytics

Once goals or transactions have been defined, it’s now possible to measure how many people your site is converting – or how many people are meeting your goals.

The Conversions Report lets you see the total number of conversions as well as how many of those were Assisted Conversions and how many were Last Interaction Conversions. Assisted Conversions are those when a visitor comes to your site, leaves, and then returns at some point to complete a goal. Last Interaction conversions are those when a visitor enters your site and clicks on a conversion goal.

Conversion Reports allow you to measure and see how well your social content is performing, which content is performing better and the dollar returns you are receiving on your social campaign.

Social Sources Report

The Social Sources report tells you which of your social networks is sending you the highest quality traffic. That means you get to know not only which network is sending you the most traffic (in numbers) but also how engaged people coming from that network are with you.

Social Sources reports shows where highest volume traffic comes from.

Image from Google Analytics

For example, one network could be sending you more traffic but those people stay on your site for a shorter time while another network could be sending less traffic comprised of people who stay on your site longer. Both these factors – number of people and their length of interaction – combine to give you a metric by which to gauge the quality of your incoming traffic.

Now you can use this detailed information to identify social network trends and adjust strategy accordingly.

Social Sharing Report

This report consists of two parts: Social Plugins and Activity Stream. Social Plugins show on-site engagement while the Activity Stream shows off-site engagement. Together they give a rounded view of your site’s social performance.

See the Google Analytics activity stream in Social Reports.

Activity stream image from Google Analytics

The Social Plugins report allows you to see which content is being popularly shared using social sharing button such as +1 and Like. There is also built-in functionality for using other types of social plugins, such as Add This or Share This, so you can see data from a wide variety of plugins.

The Activity Stream measures activity taking place around your content on other websites. So if people comment on your post, share it, or bookmark it this will be recorded in the activity stream.

The new Social Reports functionality from Google Analytics is a free feature of immense value to any marketer wishing to measure and understand the social ROI of their content. Marketers should use Social Reports to monitor how their content behaves on different social networks and which strategy to employ for each social channel.

Share your experience with social reports in the comments below!

Connie Bensen

Connie Bensen

Global Digital Marketing, Social Media and Community Executive at Dell
Connie Bensen is a leading Community Strategist who has provided resources and mentorship for Community Managers since 2007. Her definition for the Community Manager role is linked from Wikipedia and has been referenced by many organizations. She can be found presenting at leading social media conferences around the world. She has authored a series of ten white papers on the ROI of Social Media.
Connie Bensen
Connie Bensen
Connie Bensen
Tags: Business,Social Media