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Our view on Google Social Reports

Simon Mustoe

By Simon Mustoe
December 19, 2012   

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Since its introduction in March 2012, we’ve had a bit of time to play around with Google Social Reports – the social media reporting suite in Google Analytics. We’ve also started to include its data in some of our clients’ custom reports as well.

Our clients are requesting Google Social Reports data in their Trackpal reports to sit alongside data from Facebook Insights and Twitter. It gives them a more rounded view of their social media performance, with on-site and off-site social media data sitting neatly side-by-side in one report.

Here’s a brief view from us about how our clients are currently using Google Social Reports. We’ve also rounded up five of our favourite articles about Google Social Reports written by other people. We hope you find them as useful as we did.

How our clients are using it

So far, we’ve found that two particular metrics in Google Social Reports have proved popular with our clients. The first is visits via social referral, in other words the amount of visits to your website from social media sites. We’re not surprised about this; how social media contributes to your overall traffic is a natural extension of monthly referral analysis.

The second popular metric is more interesting. You’ve been asking us to put shared URL data in your Trackpal reports so that you can see the top URLs that people have landed on via a social media share. For our clients, it’s clearly not just about how much traffic comes to their sites, but also what aspects of their content ‘travel’ best in social media.

When you are paying attention to your most – and least – shared articles it means you can tailor your content in order to focus more on what drives interest and social buzz. With Google placing increasing emphasis on social graph data in its algorithm, a content-focused approach is the best approach.

A minor bugbear of ours

Being able to track the success of an individual piece of content is one of the main strengths of Google Social Reports. However, we at Trackpal are of course focused on ways to make reporting quicker and easier. So we can’t help but feel that one of the principal drawbacks of Google Social Reports is how tricky it is to set up the reports so that they cover multiple domains and/or multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts. It’s a tricky process that takes time. And we know that spending time on reporting can be a bit of a pain in the neck. Depending on your settings, it might also be impossible to set up Google Social Reports to include past data.

Our pick of articles about Google Social Reports

Now that Google Social Reports has been with us a while, we decided to go back over some of the articles written about it this year. Here’s our top five. We can’t promise that you’ll be a Google Social Reports Master once you’ve read them. But you should be able to hold your own in a conversation down the pub after work. Although we’d like to think you’ve got something more interesting to talk about first.

  1. Smart Insights rounds up the six types of reports available and how to use them. If you have set up goals in Google Analytics, it includes particularly useful information around conversion tracking and attribution analysis.
  2. Social Media Examiner explains how to use Google Social Reports. It includes a useful guide to using Social Visitors Flow as a way of understanding what people are looking for on your site.
  3. Search Engine Watch features an honest, critical appraisal of Google Social Reports by Marshall Sponder, Founder of WebMetricsGuru. He applauds its good points but pulls no punches about its limitations either.
  4. instantShift gives a really simple run-through of the types of insights you can get from Google Social Reports. It’s a good read for any designers and developers who want an introduction to the software.
  5. Glenn Gabe gets deep into the data to show how you can use Google Social Reports to analyse the performance of individual pieces of content, and also how it’s being used and talked about by people off-site. It’s a good article for content professionals and search engine marketers alike
Simon Mustoe
Author: Simon Mustoe