webmaster-toolsIt’s no secret that Google are keen to expand their reach within the social media world.  The launch of Google+ has thrown down the gauntlet to Facebook and Google has been open about its desire to turn its search engine into “one giant social network”.  But whilst Google+ has sucked up most of the attention, Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools have been busy getting social too.

We recently shared our top tips for choosing a social network, offering our own take on the features and benefits of the major social networks like Facebook or Twitter, but of course selecting a network is only the start of the social media journey.  Analysing the impact of social marketing is crucial and for many businesses, particularly financial providers or those in the wealth management technology space, generating data on which social networks perform best has become the Holy Grail.

Google’s new Social Plugin Tracking tool for Google Analytics could be about to make things easier.  Launched at the end of June, the new tools allow users to compare the effectiveness of social marketing.  It can also help you keep tabs on tweets, +1s and Facebook ‘Likes’.

Using three key reports: Social Engagement, Social Actions and Social Pages, the tracker can provide valuable insights into client behaviour over time, including key metrics such as page views, bounce rates etc.  Whilst Google may well have launched the new tools to help prove the benefit of using +1s to boost web traffic, there will be no complaints from website owners. Given that even large brands often adopt a “test and learn” strategy with social media, the ability to track results is absolutely vital.  As Google say themselves in their launch announcement, “it’s usually not real until you can measure it”.

There are some suggestions on where to find out more about installing and using Google Analytics at the end of this post but, for now, here’s an overview of the new functionality:

Social Plugin Analytics

  • Social Engagement Report – Lets you compare the behaviour of people who come to your site via a +1 with those that don’t, generating data on whether those who respond to a personal recommendation stay longer or interact more with your website.
  • Social Actions Report – Analyses social actions taken after users view a web page, helping you prioritise which sharing buttons to use for example.
  • Social Pages – Compares the various pages of your website to show which ones encourage the highest level of social interaction and sharing.

Google Webmaster Tools

  • +1 metrics Shows the degree to which +1 buttons are influencing the web traffic that visits your site.
  • Search Impact Report – Allows you to compare clicks and search results with and without +1s, helping you track the impact that personal recommendations can make.
  • Activity Report – Tracks the number of times your pages have been +1d, either from your own website or via search engines etc.
  • Audience Report – Gives a whole raft of demographic and location based statistics on which people are providing +1s for your site, helping to focus your marketing efforts on the people that are most engaged with recommending your brand.

Google launched the new services saying, “Social reporting is just getting started. As people continue to find new ways to interact across the Web, we look forward to new reports that help business owners understand the value that social actions are providing to their business. So +1 to data!”  and anyone trying to make the case for how social media can drive financial marketing forward will second that.

Want to know more…

For a pretty exhaustive list of Google Analytics resources try Yorkshire Web Design’s 50 ways to get the most out of Google Analytics.

Google’s launch announcement and links to instructions.

For in-depth guide to creating an analytics account try understandinggoogleanalytics.com

Social Media Examiner offers a great overview of exactly what the new Google Analytics social plugin tools do and how to install them.

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Hazel McHugh

Before becoming a freelance writer and digital marketer, Hazel was Group Marketing Manager at Santander.
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