The popularity of established social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn as well as the rapid growth of newer platforms such as Pinterest and Google+ makes it hard for businesses to find a reason not to get involved in the ever expanding social media scene. However, the issue of determining the return on investment (ROI) when it comes to social strategies is one that has clouded the decisions marketing departments for some time.
In an attempt to combat the social media ROI problem, Google recently introduced a new line of reports into Google Analytics. These new Social Reports were designed to help users capture the value of social media by tracking goal conversions that result from the social media interactions of their visitors. Found under the Traffic Sources menu, the new Social Menu features conversion, engagement and social shares tracking to help place monetary values on your social media marketing strategy.
Before you can effectively measure ROI using Google’s social tracking, you will need to set up some goals. If you already have goals set up for your website, they will follow through to the Social menu. However, if you have separate goals for your social media strategy than you do for your website, you will need to set them up before you start tracking your ROI. You can do this in the setting menu of Google Analytics.
Once your goals are set up, you can use the Conversions view to observe both assisted conversions as well as last interaction conversions. A last interaction conversion is counted when a social referral leads to a conversion immediately while an assisted conversion is counted when a visitor referred by a social source is not converted until a later visit.
Using the data found in the Conversions view, you can watch changes over time and identify how those changes relate to your social media plan. You can then use this data to improve your marketing strategy.
The Sources view offers an engagement summary including visits, page views, duration of visit, and pages per visit broken down by social network. This may offer little insight into goals and conversions, but it could be very useful in determining a direction to take with your social media strategy. For example, if the number of visitors to your website that are referred from Facebook is double those that are referred from Twitter, you may choose to alter your marketing plan accordingly.
Tracking Social Sharing
The Social Plugins view allows for an easy way to identify how your content is shared both on and off of your website. Onsite sharing includes social buttons within your website such as +1 or Like buttons. Offsite sharing includes tweeting, posting, or pinning of your content. The Social Plugins view also offers an activity stream including the URL of the shared content, how and where the content was shared, and what was said about it. By tracking social sharing using Social Plugins, you can discover what type of content is most popular with your audiences, allowing you to create ways of further stimulating social conversations.