Time to ‘fess up, I’m behind the curve on Google Analytics social traffic sources reports! What have I been doing with my life? Anyway, boom, Google’s new(ish) traffic reports hit me with a bang today as I mistakenly clicked on the social drop-down instead of the search engine optimization tab. What really caught my attention was not the data, it was the tiny icon beside the reddit figures!
Low and behold, reddit is a partner on a service Google has called their Social Data Hub. Old news to all you socialite marketers I’m sure! Certainly Web Analytics Demystified had the lead story way back in December of 2011 and Google’s evangelical brand advocates have been singing high-praise since Spring ’12.
This is kinda a big deal actually! The penny hadn’t dropped with me until now that it would make perfect sense for Google to get in to the social media analytics space. Here I am awash with a heady mix of freemium & paid pro monitoring & metrics tools in SproutSocial, Hootsuite, Facebook Insights, Followerwonk, SEOmoz, Hubspot when my trusty steed Google Analytics has much to offer that I hadn’t credited for.
What Google has created is a “free platform that social networks and other social platforms can use to integrate their activity streams— like +1, votes, and comments—with Google Analytics”. As usual, the trade off is data, Google gets it! Okay with that (which facebook, twitter, LinkedIn etc clearly aren’t), “surfacing through Google Analytics provides a way for this data to be consumed by a large audience of marketers and publishers interested in understanding how social impacts their business”. “Google Analytics will provide a social reporting suite so marketers and publishers can see how their content is being shared or interacted with off their site. This will include visibility into social actions such as voting, commenting and sharing amongst other reports helping marketers tie social activity back to engagement and conversion. The social data hub will supply the data needed to enable these Google Analytics reports”.
As Lovett concludes in his piece, “eConsultancy just reported that 41% of marketers surveyed had no idea what their return on investment was for social media spending in 2011″. Part of our recent investment in Hubspot software is precisely to gain more accountability around traffic value, to reveal the real people behind visits and to decipher who of those people have most potential to be a revenue source. The discovery that Google is to really challenge social analytics companies is one that jolts me to stand up and take notice. If I were Hootsuite, I think I would too, but then they already know that! I wouldn’t be at all surprised judging by how close Google already is with Hootsuite (note recent tandem webinar for example) that the two start talking to each other a lot more closely.
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If you made it down this far,you deserve a treat! Here’s a little nugget that I picked up in that presentation, “Social that Adds Up” from Adam Singer, Google product manager liaising with Hootsuite. A custom social report template pre-built and ready to plug-in to your analytics account. Couple of clicks and you’ve a social metrics report good to go. Can’t do better than that. Just log-in to Google Analytics, click http://troni.me/GASocialDash and Google will request which account/profile you wish the custom social dashboard assigned to. Works a treat!