Tracking Social Media Engagement In Google Analytics

July 20, 2011
By Brian Honigman

There are constant conversations about the ROI of social media because most businesses take actions completely based upon dollar amounts. Many associate social engagement on the various platforms as a part of the overall sales funnel, but a lot of the time aren’t able to connect eCommerce to engagement. Google Analytics has recently gotten one step closer to defining this relationship. By adding the ability to track social media plugins installed on your website, Google Analytics can track the actions of a social engaged user and begin to quantifying the relationship between their social actions and their behavior on your website.

Google’s +1s are automatically tracked if you already have Google Analytics code installed on your website. To track Facebook Likes, Unlikes, Shares and Twitter’s Tweets you must install tracking code to each network’s button to make sure you’re reaping the full benefits of GA’s new social section. Previously, event tracking provided a general way to track these social engagements on your website, but now Social Tracking allows for a standardized framework for measuring social actions on your website.

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This is a step in the right direction for many trying to quantify their use of social media. Many current methods of social media measurement are scattered across different third party tools utilizing the various platforms API. Many of the tools, especially the free ones, don’t have the level of actionable insights many brands would rely on for making enterprise level decisions. Google has some of the highest brand trust among consumers and brands worldwide, that many companies will most likely continue over to include social tracking.

Therefore, Google Analytics measuring how social factors impact a company’s website will hopefully help more businesses and brands utilize social media to its fullest potential. It’s starting to make it easier for a company with multiple social accounts to consolidate their social metrics into one trusted measurement platform. The fact that this rolled out close to the launch of Google+ is most likely on purpose. Google is probably hoping that Social Tracking will drive more legitimacy to its social network, especially from brands looking to measure their efforts, and eventually be able to compete on the same playing field with Facebook.

What metrics do you take into account when measuring social media engagement? What tools have you found to be most effective in delivering results?