When Avinash Kaushik, Google Inc.'s digital marketing evangelist, announced his company's new social metrics functionality at a recent SES Conference & Expo, the event series that focuses on search and social marketing, the idea was to create an immediate ripple throughout the social marketing world.
And it worked.
Google's new social analytics tool is an out-of-the-box solution that recently went live on Google Analytics pages. It's located under the standard reporting tab and provides a snapshot of social media's interaction with your website. In a statement, Google said that the social analytics tool was designed to help marketers capture the full value of social media to their websites, a feat that has proven elusive so far.
The new tab makes it easy to see how many visitors are coming from social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, and tracks conversions by social media interaction. It even tracks conversions based on visitors referred to your site using social channels at some earlier date (these are known as “assisted” conversions).
“This is really good for people who don't know how social media is impacting their sites,” said Jonathan Allen, director of Search Engine Watch. “You can track conversions and attribute them to social media.”
The new tool is designed to allow marketers with robust social marketing platforms to find out which social channels are working so resources can be allocated more efficiently, Allen said.
In addition, Google introduced a new service, Social Data Hub, which enables marketers to see which URLs were shared across social networks, as well as comments and conversations connected to those URLs, matching users to sharing events.
However, the service is only available for participating social networks, including Blogger, Digg, Google+ and leading networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are conspicuously absent.
If it seems this is convenient for a company that's trying to establish Google+ as the go-to social media network, that's probably because it is. “One way Google is going to compete socially is by showing everyone in the world all the touch points on the Web before conversion,” Allen said.
Another downside to the new tool, according to Dave Chaffey CEO of digital marketing company SmartInsights, is that while it does allow marketers to track some social sharing, it doesn't allow marketers to track readers on third-party applications like HootSuite or TweetDeck, which can include a significant number of readers.
So far, not all the features are available, but they should available in the coming weeks, Google said in its statement.