Social reporting just got better with Google Analytics

By Andrea Ness
May 1, 2012

Social media marketing for clients seems to be taking the forefront in communications plans these days — with valid reason. Using social media as a marketing tool is a great way to spread awareness and get your message heard in a fun and creative way, and pretty much instantly.

When social media sites first launched, there was no reliable way of tracking social media results in your marketing and PR campaigns, so companies were hesitant to jump on the bandwagon or include it as a budgeted item when there was no metric-based way to prove it was really working. Things have changed dramatically since then, large companies use paid services like Radian6 to track social measurement while new free services such as Facebook Insights are coming into play.

Today, metrics fans like yours truly were overjoyed to receive news of even more dramatic enhancements to Google Analytics, one of the key analytics tools we use at Martin Waymire Advocacy Communications.

New set of social reports for Google Analytics

Google Analytics is constantly upgraded to make sure the platform stays ahead of the curve, but the new reporting options now available allow the Martin Waymire team to better measure the full value of each social channel we use for our clients:

  • Identify traffic value coming from social media sites and measure how they lead to direct or future conversations.
  • Understand the social activities that are happening, on our sites and on social platforms, to better optimize user engagement and increase social key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Help us and our clients make more efficient data-driven decisions in our social media marketing efforts.

Isn’t this exciting? I know for the data-geek side of me, this just made me jump out of my chair. To better explain what they are doing, let’s pull some graphic instruction into the mix.

Social Value in Goal Conversions:

One asset Google Analytics allows for is to set up your own goals for your site. When you set up goals, you also set a value of that goal. Goals can be “newsletter sign-ups” or “article downloads” or whatever you feel are important goals for your campaign and brand. Putting a dollar amount on your goals may get tricky, but a good way to value a goal is to evaluate how often visitors who reach that goal become customers. This could be a separate blog post in itself, or you can just contact us to help you out.

The new Overview Report now lets you see social performance and its impact on your goal conversions:

photo credit: Google Analytics

This report shows you the goals achieved through your site while comparing it to those that were achieved through your social interactions and the “value” it created from both. From the example above, it shows there were 20,358 total conversions made. Of those, there were 11,003 conversions made by Assisted Social Conversions (any visitor who comes via social media, then returns to achieve that goal) and 2,375 made by Last Interaction Social Conversions (referrals that lead to conversions immediately).

With the new Conversion Report, Google breaks it down even more by letting you see the value brought in by each social network. Holy cats!


photo credit: Google Analytics

The new Social Sources report shows behavior patterns of how people are interacting with your site from each social network.

photo credit: Google Analytics


You may need a couple minutes to breathe, so please take this time to do so…because it only gets better from here. [EDITOR’S NOTE: We think you’ll be fine. Keep reading.]

Behind the Scenes of Social Sharing

The Social Plugins report has been around for a bit, and perfect if you have a site that publishes content all the time. This report shows which articles or posts are receiving the most social engagement and what social plugin buttons are being used most to share them. Here is an example I pulled from one of our client’s pages:


And possibly, the most exciting one of all is that now we can track interactions happening outside of our website all in one place. Google’s new Activity Stream shows how people are using our client’s content off of the site and onto the social web. This will be available in the next few weeks across all analytic accounts, and I’m happy to report I knew the day it showed up in our accounts because I’m #geekyandIknowit. :)


Currently, this report just shows content shared publicly over Google+and across a number of other platforms that include Reddit, Delicious, Digg, etc. Here’s to hoping they let in friendly competition and start reporting on Facebook and Twitter too.

I hope I didn’t scare most of you away with my geeky, data-loving side. I absolutely am addicted to data, among my other responsibilities here, and I’m happy to help clients see results to their marketing and PR campaigns. If you’re interested in learning more or would like to start using analytics for your company, feel free to contact me.

Andrea Ness is Martin Waymire’s director of graphics and new media services. 


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