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In A Push For More Robust Reporting, Google Analytics Adds Social Insights


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How do you track how your jobs and content gets shared across different social platforms? What if you could do it all from your Google Analytics dashboard?

Google announced the move in a post on their Google Analytics blog yesterday. While it may not replace the best all-around commercial solutions out there (like Omniture) or social specific monitoring tools (like Radian6), for the SMB crowd and for those who already use Google Analytics, it could be a great step forward from talking about social media tracking to actionable data and results.

With time, of course.

Smarter tracking

If you are using social media as a way to distribute job advertisements, there’s a certain amount of tracking built-in. For example, if you share a job on your careers Facebook page and someone shares it from there, you can see who shared it. If you share it on Twitter, you can see who re-tweeted your messages. But for anything more robust, you’re looking outside of the social network itself for answers. That’s where Google Analytics hopes to step in:

Measuring the value of social media has been a challenge for marketers. And with good reason: it’s hard to understand exactly what is happening in an environment where activity occurs both on and off your website. Since social media is often an upper funnel player in a shopper’s journey, it’s not always easy to determine which social channels actually drive value for your business and which tactics are most effective.

And as Marketing Land’s Daniel Waisberg reports, Google will attempt to be intelligent about where traffic is coming from:

Google unifies different URLs that can be used to send traffic from one social network. For example, Twitter may send traffic from both twitter.com and t.co. Traffic from both sources are combined under the category of Twitter).

Social visitor flow example

With that information coming in a more logical way, you’ll also be able to use all of the advanced features of Google Analytics on a social specific channels like goal tracking, conversion monitoring or even visitor flow (seen to the right). If you have Analytics set up correctly, you can see them move from their source straight to through the hiring process. It can also be a great way of seeing how to best target your efforts depending on the job type or how well a job is being shared.

Maybe the most exciting news is the ability to track beyond what happens on your website. It comes with a catch, though.

Analyzing off-site social media sharing

If improving the way they track social shares wasn’t enough, Google is also setting up ways for you to monitor how people are sharing on outside sites through a built-in activity feed:

There is just one catch (or, maybe three-in-one in this case): Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn don’t get that advanced insight yet. There are a fair amount of partners in the social data hub group but, especially for those hoping to see where and how jobs are being shared, this part will be fairly limited.

There is more hope that there will be better accessibility to this data in the future without spending hundreds–or even thousands–of dollars a month on monitoring solutions or switching between a dozen or so free products and trying to put all of the pieces together yourself. This, combined with a few of the other new features (like real-time analytics), is still a big step up from where Google Analytics was a few years ago.

Lance Haun is an editor at The Starr Conspiracy, a marketing agency focused on the enterprise HCM market. He spent three years as an editor at ERE Media and seven years in the recruiting and HR trenches before joining the agency. You can follow him on Twitter, circle him on Google+, check out his blog or contact him directly at lance@coug.rs.