Google launches social media reports tool

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Google Analytics launched Social Reports, a set of five reports that apply key business-related metrics to branded social media sites and marketing campaigns. Social Reports tracks more than 400 international social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Hyves in the Netherlands, VKontakte in Russia and Mixi in Japan, to help marketers measure the value of their social media efforts, said Phil Mui, group product manager at Google Analytics.

“We are helping marketers understand how each of the 400 social sources makes a difference to a company's bottom line,” Mui said.

Google Analytics's Social Reports are comprised of five reports: Social Visitors Flow gathers data from 400 social networks; Overview provides a glimpse into the conversion value of each social channel; Conversions compares each social channel in terms of conversion rates and monetary values; Social Plugins allow users to see which articles are receiving the most engagement through shares or recommendations; Social Sources shows engagement and conversion metrics for each social network.

Additionally, by using the Activities Stream report available through the Social Data Hub platform, which Google released in December of last year, brands can monitor exactly what customers are saying about them. Activities Stream aggregates public conversations on 20 social media partners that include all of Google's social products as well as sites like WordPress and Reddit.

Brands need detailed social media data to maximize their online presences and to determine which outlets drive traffic, said Google's digital marketing evangelist Avinash Kaushik during his keynote address at the SES Conference & Expo in New York. Brands should then use that data to focus on the social sites that both drive traffic and produce the best sales results. Twitter retweets or Facebook “Likes” mean nothing if they can't be tied to money, Kaushik added, and only “stupid companies” will gain likes for the sake of having them.

“[Social marketing] is tied to economic value,” Kaushik said. “You want to understand what you should be doing so that you can create this great ecosystem for your company.” Every company is different, he said, and therefore has to develop individually a unique social media strategy, determine where best to invest online marketing dollars and decide which metrics are most applicable to their respective business.

Ultimately, Kaushik argued, data should be actionable. Whereas marketers used to simply blast one-way announcements to as many people as possible, social media allows marketers to “have more intent-based conversations with [consumers], rather than just shouting at them.”

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