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Google's Social Reports Show How Far Social Media ROI Has Come

Google Analytics has rolled out a new tool called Social Reports. As the name implies, Social Reports are designed to help marketers measure the return on investment for social media activities.

The reason for the tool’s launch, Phil Mui, Google Analytics group product manager, told Marketing Land, is to help marketers develop an ROI for their social media endeavors. Most social media tools monitor key words and buzz, which does not necessarily connect the dots to show how investments in different social channels lead to sales or business objectives.

These new social reports will be available over the next few weeks under the Standard Reporting Tab. The reports include:

Overview Report, which show how much conversion value is generated from social channels. The Social Value visualization compares the number and monetary value of goal completions against those that resulted from social referrals - both as last interaction, and assisted.

Conversions Report, which allows marketers to measure the value of each individual social channel by seeing the conversion rates of each social network and the monetary value they drive to business.

Social Sources, which shows engagement and conversion metrics for each social network so one can see how people are interacting with content and whether it’s leading to a desired outcome.

Social Plugins, which shows which articles are most commonly shared or recommended, and on which social networks they're being shared.

Activity Stream, which shows how people are engaging socially with content off site across the social web.

Integrating with Social Data Hub

The reason why some of the reports have drill-down capability within Google Analytics is due to Social Data Hub, an initiative that Google launched last December that allows social networks to send activity into Google Analytics, Marketing Land writes.

Large networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have stayed out Social Data Hub, but Marketing Land thinks Social Reports might push them to join as more marketers use the data because it is so transparent.

Shifting Demand

Social Reports also illustrates the growing demand for quantifiable metrics in social media. As recently as 2010 this was not a concern for marketers, according to research by Econsultancy and ExactTarget.

When Econsultancy asked about measurability of the then emerging social channels, marketers were not concerned, Research Director Linus Gregoriadis said. "That is not to say that companies have no guideposts with these invests. Rather, they tend to rely on 'softer' metrics,", he said.

Some Guideposts

The most commonly used metric was increased sales, used by 79% of company respondents. The second mostly widely used metric was increased traffic to website (used by 71% of companies). Brand reputation (41%) and brand recognition (39%) were used by less than half of companies as metrics. "Statistical analysis shows that there is a strong correlation between focus on brand reputation and likelihood to be shifting marketing budget from traditional to digital channels," the report said.

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