Thursday, May 3, 2012

What Google Analytics New Social Reports Offer & What They Can’t

When Google Analytics announced their new social reports at SES New York last month there was a lot of online buzz declaring Google was “squaring the circle” of social media ROI by putting in place a more robust collection and filtering mechanism for more than 400 sources of social media data (including the most familiar suspects along with several more obscure sources most of us wouldn’t have thought to specify in an advanced traffic filter).
I could have joined the fold of people speculating about the new features, but I prefer to write about platforms I actually work with, and the insights coming out of using those platforms to solve real world problems, and didn’t yet have access to the new features. Now I do. I reasoned that an ounce of my own personal experience is worth much more than many hundreds of pounds of someone else’s.

Platform Speak vs. Reality

After examining the new features of Google Analytics on my own blog, I found the platform speak, as explained in Google Analytics Social Overview page, (“where social traffic sources and pages identify communities interested in my content”), doesn’t match up with my experience of what the platform provides.

Social Network Sources

For example, networks such as Twitter and Facebook are communities in much the same way that Manhattan and Brooklyn, two places I hang out at, often, but most of those people there do not act together in any communistic sense that relate to my content, so I’m not getting any useful information about people who visited my site due to social media really are.

Social Referrers

One could argue, we, as marketers, should take the time to structure our communications medium along the line of what, and how the platforms measure. If we did that, our Google Analytics readouts would be much better and more insightful.


The new social reporting in Google Analytics provides a marketer and site owner a lot of additional information, but as tools such as Google Analytics continue to evolve, they typically requires a lot more configuration and planning, beforehand, in order to leverage the new capabilities.

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