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Get the most out of Google Analytics for Social Media

Taking a deeper look into Social in Google Analytics

In the last couple of years social media is “the hit” in our everyday life. Which means it becomes more and more interesting for the business – you should be where your customers are, right? So with the growth of social networks grows the part of social media in the online marketing mix. Businesses are investing more and more money and attention to this communication channels. One of the biggest problems about social media (or it appears to be according to a lot of people), is the lack of tools you can use to measure the real business effect from it. Of course, you can measure clicks, impressions of your posts or ads, but that’s it. Let me correct this opinion – you can integrate measuring of social media usage in your analytics tool, or you have it integrated already, or you can use special tools. Either way, you can analyze the effect of social networks on your website visits, your e-shop sales, your lead generation etc.


Having this in mind it’s not a surprise that 56% of marketers are planning to use social media analytics in 2012 – and that’s top priority for them. The results are from the Adobe 2012 Digital Marketing Optimization Survey, released recently. 8 in 10 of the asked marketers admit that 15% of their marketing budget is meant for on-site optimization, so that they can benefit more not only from online advertising, but from their social media efforts – in order to make a community, bring users to their website and make them buy. The website analytics and social media analytics were the top two optimization strategies, which marketers are planning to employ this year (see the graphic bellow).



Social analytics

Social analytics is linked with collection and analysis of statistical data on how users interface with an organization online. Business uses social analytics to identify its customers, predict and respond to their behaviour. The result is that we, as internet users, are observed all the time – almost every click that we make is stored somewhere and used to analyze what sites we visit, what videos we watch, what pictures we download etc.

Some people don’t like this at all – I personally love it. As a user, this allows companies to show me ads, which I’m interested in, or to sell me products that might be useful for me. As a marketer, this is a challenge – a great opportunity to understand what your real and potential customers are, what they are doing online and what their interests are.

Social analytics have a lot of features and provide a lot of interesting information – it doesn’t matter if you’re a large company, small business or individual, who wants to monitor his blog’s visits. You can learn a lot from an analytics tool, the most popular one and most widely used is definitely Google Analytics. So I’ll focus on it and how you can analyze social media usage.


Social Media Analytics

These analytics help analysing data related to a given organization or brand across various social media sites. With social media analytics companies can identify which social media tools and strategies are more effective and what their ROI is. This helps for optimization of social media budget and more effective planning. Connecting social media usage in your web analytics you’ll be able to answer the big question “What is the real benefit in terms of sales from social media?” You will learn the number of conversions, which come from social media, and you’ll get a lot of other useful information.

There are a lot of tools to measure and analyze social media. You can see a list of apps that can be integrated in your Google Analytics tool or used separately. The first apps on the list are great, but they’re not free – you can use trial or demo versions for a short period of time to see if they fit your needs, but after that you should pay for your subscription. My opinion is that paying in this case is not necessary – there are free tools that can do great job in social media analytics. As I mentioned before, we’ll go through the social analytics section in Google analytics, which is really good and can provide you with a lot of helpful information.

Social reports in Google Analytics

Social reports help you measure the impact social media has on your business goals and conversions.  In fact, what really matters for your business, is the place where users buy or convert into leads – this is on your website. So no matter what you do in social networks, you want people from there to come to your site. Social reports in GA help you understand if your efforts are successful. With the reports you can identify the full value of social media, understand better the engagement with your community on and off your website and optimize your social network marketing.

There are a couple of reports, which you can find in Traffic sources tab, Social section. Let’s go through them:

  • Social Conversions

The Conversions report shows conversion rates and the monetary value of conversions that occurred due to referrals from each social network. With it you can calculate the social media ROI. You can link visits, coming from social media, with your goals, so that it becomes even easier to review how social channels are helping you achieve those goals. With this report you can see what type of content in social media drives conversions. As you can see in the picture, you have a list of social networks, full information about conversions and split of them by source.


Google defines an Assisted conversions as 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. As long as a user completes the conversion within 30 days, Google Analytics can track that conversion path from the first click to the final click and everywhere in between. You can access this data visually in the Multi-Channel Funnel report (in Conversions tab). With one click, you can determine which channels are assisting with the most conversions and determine the top conversion paths. Last Interaction Conversions is the number of last click sales and conversions. When someone visits your site and converts, the visit is considered a last click.


  • Social Sources

This report helps you understand which social networks deliver the highest quality traffic for your website. It shows where the users came from and what they did on your website. In additional you can see the engagement and conversion metrics for each social network. The report groups the referral traffic from social networks, so you can focus only on the analysis. You have access to comparison charts, so that you can compare all traffic and traffic from social sources.

Social Sharing

The battle in social networks is about posting that kind of content that users will share. The Social Plug-ins report shows which articles on your site are most commonly shared and which social buttons are being clicked to share them (for example, Google “+1″ or Facebook Like). In the Social Sources tab you have Activity stream tab. The Activity Stream report shows how visitors engage with your content on external websites external. You can understand where your content is (except on your own website) and how other users are interacting with it. The only bad thing that I find in the Social part of GA is actually in this part. Facebook and Twitter are not included in the Activity stream. The report includes Google+ and channels like Digg, Badoo, Echo, Meetup, TypePad etc.


  • Social Visitors Flow

The Social Visitors Flow is a visual presentation of how visitors from social networks are navigating your website.

You can see the top social referrers, the top landing pages and also the page drop-off rate. The drop-off rate is a really important indicator, because you can see which social network is bringing the most quality visitors to your site – by comparing the drop-off rates of different channels.  The Social Visitors Flow report also outlines a user’s second, third, fourth and fifth interaction. By studying these interactions, you can quickly determine what visitors are looking for on your site and if they’re headed down your conversion funnel.

In summary, we had a quick view of what social media analytics is, why it’s so important, how can you find social reports in your Google analytics and what information will they give you. I’ll be happy, if you share some experience how you use social media analytics and how they help you in your business or blog. 

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