When Google rolled out the Panda Update and some other updates to its search algorithm, the people behind the search giant made it a point that everyone understood that social signals are now considered to be ranking factors. It became obvious that social mentions and shares from Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social networking and social media sites now affect how your site is ranked.
It was only a matter of time before Google upgraded their Analytics service to include social actions in its reporting. Here is a brief overview of the social reports that are now being provided by Google Analytics.
First, Where to Find It?
Google Analytics has made everything easier to find and your social reports are no exception. To view them, just take a look at the left navigation column. Click on audience and the tree will expand to reveal three options that we are going to talk more in detail below: Engagement, Action and Pages.
Now that you know where to access the social reports, it is time for you to know what they are and what information they can give you.
Social Engagement Report
With the social engagement report you can compare the number of pages that were viewed per visit, how long each visit lasted, the bounce rate and some other numbers for visits that included social actions vs. those that did not.
The most useful data from this report is that it tells you how your visitors are clicking on your social sharing buttons. +1 is automatically added but if you have Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest social sharing buttons, you would need to add these to the report on your own using a simple code.
Further, you could compare whether visitors that +1′ed your page stayed longer or shorter than other visitors who tweeted your page.
Social Actions Report
This is a tally of the social actions being done on your site, and shows you the number of +1s, likes or tweets your site is getting. This is especially important if you are still trying to figure out which social sharing button to include on your blog posts so that it does not come off as cluttered, or at least which ones to highlight at the start of the page rather than clustered together at the bottom.
Social Pages Report
If you have always wanted to know what pages on your site are the most social, then this is the report to look at. This will help you know which pages are getting the most number of social actions, and which ones have the most potential to be viral. This will also give you an idea on the type of content that your audience would like and share.
Going Beyond: More Things You Could Do
While these reports provide a lot of information and insights as to how your Web site and pages are doing on social media, there are much more things that you could find out from Google Analytic’s new interface.
A good way to extend the information that you get from your social activities on Google Analytics is to define goals and goal values. You can learn how to do that here: http://support.google.com/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55515
Estimate Your ROI
Google provides an overview report that lets you see how much conversion value comes from your social channels. The report shows you just how many direct conversions you get from your social channels to assisted social conversions to last interaction conversions. The best thing is that it does not only provide a number, but also a dollar value, making it easier to understand and more attractive to your boss or anybody who only cares about the bottom line.
See how your new content drives conversions. If you have just put up a new how-to video, you might want to find out how that helps your conversions. If there is a spike in your goal completions after posting the video, then it is safe to say that your new video was very effective in selling your products and services.