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Anna Lewis

Google Analytics Social Reports Explored

27th Apr 2012 Analytics, Social Media 6 minutes to read

tracking social ROI in google analyticsThe addition of Social Reports represents a major update for Google Analytics. At first glance there’s some useful data that can help you work out a better ROI for social media than ever before. UPDATE: Backlink data has now also been added!

When you take a closer look and delve deeper you find that there’s a whole wealth of information about interactions, shares and details of the social activity on and relating to your site. This is a big step towards brand monitoring by Google Analytics, and it’s free and easily accessible in your Analytics account today!

I’ve gone through and taken screenshots from one of my sample accounts of some standard and some hard to find reports which I’ll explain in detail here so you can see what’s on offer. Click each image to see the full details.

social overview in google analytics
Traffic Sources > Social > Overview

Here we can see a diagram of how many conversions there have been on the site, how many of these have been assisted by social media and how many had social media as the last point of entry to the site before the conversion.

We also have a summary of how many visits each social network has brought to this site. Each one has the various URL variations combined automatically which saves you having to create a lot of advanced segments yourself.

Where there is the black blobby image, this shows that there is more information available about the activity that took place on that social network itself. These are called Data Hubs, we’ll take a closer look at them further down.

The overview allows you to quickly see your most shared URLs and social activity on site (Social Plugins).


Traffic Sources > Social > Conversions

The conversion report shows us which social platforms have led to conversions on the site. You can choose to look at either last touch conversions or assisted conversions.

conversions by social platform in google analytics

For both conversion reports it is insightful to select the pie chart to visualise social conversions within total conversions for your site.

social conversions pie in google analytics

Conversion value is a very important aspect of this section of Google Analytics.

social conversions value pie in google analytics

This image shows that almost a quarter of all conversions have been assisted by social!

social assissted conversions pie in google analytics

These reports may be exactly what you need to prove the value of social media to your boss! You can also use them to work out which platforms need more effort and which don’t work for your site.

Shared URLs

shared url in google analyticsTraffic Sources > Social > Pages

This report shows us the URLs that have been shared on social networks and what the visitor interaction statistics are for these, including information about how much activity there has been on social media platforms (data hub activity).

By looking at how many pages have been visited for each URL you can assess how well the pages are performing and make decisions about which sort of pages to promote in future.

Social Plugins Activityshared url visits from social in google analytics

Traffic Sources > Social > Social Plugins

Similar to the Shared URL Report you can also see how many social actions have happened for each URL, it’s good to see this using the comparison diagram:

social actions in google analyticsYou can break this down further by clicking Social Source and Actions above the data to see shares, comments and ‘votes’ links to your site have had.

This next image shows that pages had more +1s than anything else but comments and reshares are pretty equal. You can set this up to also track other social actions such as tweets, likes, diggs, stumbles etc, but they require extra code that isn’t on the site tracked here.

social network activity in google analytics

For more information on the details of the posts, +1s, comments shares and more, see the Data Hub Report details further down, it’s interesting!

Data Hub Activity

Traffic Sources > Social > Sources > Click a network with the blobby image alongside it > Activity Stream tab (above the graph)

This area has a number of surprising aspects. It is focused on what happens on the social platforms that share their data with Google, including Google+, Reddit, Blogger, Digg, Delicious and more. This is where Google can give you a way to monitor your brand online by showing you links posted and extra information around these.

social conversations in google analytics

What comments and reshares did you get?

It’s very handy that you can now see conversations that included links to your site, with graphics to easily show you who shared it, whether it was a link or reshare, when it happened and what was said.

These don’t appear to have any statistics to go with them and are ordered by most recent first.

Who +1’d what?
social events in google analytics

We can see events such as plus ones and thumbs up and what time these happened. It’s great looking at the graph here as you can see when tags were buzzing online and see if visits matched up or whether it was mainly off site discussion.

It would be great to have measurements such as reach and visits for each ‘conversation’, but maybe I’m asking too much?!

Path Length & Position
social path position in google analytics
One aim with your website will always be to get a conversion as soon as you can from each visitor. This table shows us the social platform and I’ve put a secondary dimension to show where the social interaction was in the user’s path. It’s good to see this alongside the conversion value generated so that you can see the most profitable route that users take and then work to build on this.

There are also dimensions available for Days before Conversion, Source/Medium Path, Keyword (or Source/Medium) Path which all help you understand how the social platform has impacted the users journey to conversion.

social network keyword path in Google Analytics

In Conclusion

Having reviewed the reports available in depth I’m very happy to see so much new data available, there are a few tweaks that could be made to improve things further, but overall I’m looking forward to showing this data to clients to help them work out the best social strategy for their site.

UPDATE (4/5/12) Backlinks Now Reported

backlinks in Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics have just announced that they are now reporting on links that have been created to your site. This is also reported under the Social Reports, a strange choice in my opinion, but as Daniel Waisberg says in his post on Search Engine Land about this:

“this decision shows how backlinks and social signals are seen as part of the same bucket”

If we didn’t already have proof that social counts for rankings I think this might be it!

To find the data follow these steps:

  • Social
  • Pages
  • Click a URL
  • Select Activity Stream (above the graph)
  • Click ALL (from the breadcrumb)
  • Choose Events (just above the data)
  • Gaze in awe at the information about links to your site

If you want to filter to see just the links to your site click on one of the little green icons.

To see the page with the link to you, click on the small arrow on the right hand side and click ‘View Activity’.

In my opinion it’s strange to see the usernames of people who have bookmarked your content on Delicious, I thought Google were trying to protect users privacy?! For this reason, in the image above I have blurred some of the usernames in the image I’ve used here.

This report could be used for outreach and identifying users to follow and network with, but that might freak people out a little until everyone is used to the fact that they are easily stalkable!

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