Google Analytics Announces Social Data Hub

December 7, 2011

If you weren’t in Paris today (c’est la vie!), you may have missed Google’s announcement at Le Web. Don’t worry, we’ll fill you in on the details. The announcement unveiled their efforts to collect data from social networks and platforms in an effort to be able to more fully report on social activities related to your site/business/product/etc. that may not happen on your site. For example, wouldn’t it be nice to open up Google Analytics and see which of your content was shared on Facebook, tweeted about, or plus-oned, Dug (or Digged?), Stumbled, commented on or otherwise mentioned?

social media measurement

Social platforms are being invited to integrate their activity streams with Google Analytics. To do this, Google has built a social data hub to make it easy.

The social data hub

The social data hub is a data platform based on open standards to enable social data partners to submit their activity streams, eventually making the data available to Google Analytics users. This means that GA customers will be able to determine down to the activity level – e.g. +1 button, comment, vote – what activities are taking place relevant to their content, when, by whom, and how they help achieve goals.

The social data hub will make it easier to aggregate social data that analytics users are looking for. It isn’t a product in and of itself, merely a standardized process to get data into GA. This will help marketers and publishers easily access and measure all social platforms and actions side by side.

Who’s in?

Google is kicking this off with a respectable list of partners:

  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Diigo
  • Gigya
  • LiveFyre
  • ReadItLater
  • Reddit
  • TypePad / SixApart
  • VKontakte
(and of course)
  • Google+
  • Google Blogger
  • Google Groups

However, to make any future social reports useful, they have a lot of work to do on the data acquisition side. Measuring social media without including Facebook and Twitter (and arguably LinkedIn) is a lot like measuring SEO without looking at Google, IMO.

Fortunately, this announcement is aimed at attracting more social networks to the social data hub. The benefit, they claim, is that by social networks providing their data to GA, marketers and publishers will more easily be able to see the value of social media to their business, prompting them to use/spend more with those networks. It’s a pleasant spin to be sure, but it remains to be seen who will jump on board.

Eventually, this data will make its way into GA, allowing  users to see both on and off-site social engagement with their content, including visibility into social actions such as voting, commenting and sharing, amongst other metrics. This brings us one step closer to analytics nirvana –  the ability to connect social activity and conversions.

 The technical details

Google will be following the Activity Streams Specification (yes, there actually is one), for describing socially interesting events, or “Activities,” about the people and things an individual may care about. In its simplest form, an activity consists of an actor, a verb, and an object. It tells the story of a person performing an action on or with an object. For example, “Robbin posted a photo” or “Phil shared a video.” Any of the data submitted may potentially be used but it must adhere to the specification.