Google Analytics and Social Interaction Part 1:: From Your Website to the Social Web
Google Analytics now provides a set of reports for tracking social interaction with a website’s content. This new metric will measure how often users use social share buttons – for example, a Facebook Like, and Google +1, a LinkedIn share, or a tweet. This information can be used to analyze how your users share information and whether your sharing audiences use your website in different ways than those who do not.
Social Engagement Report
The Social Engagement Report shows site behavior changes for visits that include clicks on any social sharing actions. In the example below, we see that of 7,777 visits to this website in the last 30 days, only two visitors were socially engaged.
In the example above, we should also note that this site is only pulling in data from Google+, which is built in to the Google Analytics application. In order to measure engagement from other social media networks, it’s necessary to modify the scripts that control each of the social media engagement tools, which we’ll discuss in a moment.
Social Actions Report
The Social Actions report displays the number of social actions (+1 clicks, Tweets, Facebook Likes, etc) that have taken place on the site. This information can be important to determine which networks are more preferred by users, which can lead to making that button larger, changing its position on the screen, etc.
The Social Pages report shows the specific pages on your site that are driving social actions. This is very useful for content providers to determine what content on their site is of most interest to your audience, what they are most likely to share with their friends, and what has the greatest potential to become viral content.
The Tracking Code
In order to track the other social media tools, Google has created Social Interaction Tracking. This tracking has to be integrated into each social network button.
The syntax for this tracking is as follows:
_trackSocial(network, socialAction, opt_target, opt_pagePath)
Name of the social network: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc.
Type of action: Like, Tweet, Send, Stumble, etc.
This optional field allows the user to manually set the Subject of the action being taken. If it is not used, this defaults to the URL of the web page being shared. If used, it can be used to name a different web address, the name of a product or an article, or the content ID of the material, for example.
This optional field can be used to change the URL where the sharing took place (for example, for listing a virtual page name instead).
- For a more technical overview on how to implement this tag for Facebook and Twitter visit the code site article.
- To see a working example of how to integrate Analytics with Facebook and Twitter buttons check out the Social Analytics sample code.
Google Analytics and Social Interaction Part 2: In the next installment of this post, we’ll discuss methods for tracking incoming links from social networks and recording these in Google Analytics.
Jeff studied history and advertising account management before deciding that the creative side was more where his heart belonged and he became a graphic and web designer, working freelance and in a variety of small jobs. Eventually this led back to higher ed and webmaster positions with Student Financial Affairs and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where he worked in communications, marketing, design, and web development, not to mention honing his skills as a meddlesome do-gooder.
As Web content optimizer, Jeff is the Web Services go-to person for questions on analytics, SEO, social media, information architecture, usability, Star Trek, and the latest internet memes.
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