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What a difference a 'like' makes.

What a difference a 'like' makes.
Monday March 26 2012

Google Analytics has launched a new tool called Social Reports today, designed to help marketers measure the return on investment for social media activities.

E-retailers that have e-commerce tracking enabled on the free version of Google Analytics will be able to generate a “social value” report to see how social media contributes to conversions on their e-retail sites.

Google says the tool will provide marketers with return-on-investment metrics that matter most to executives—conversions and bottom line revenue—rather than data points whose impact aren’t so clear, like the number of Likes retailers have on Facebook.

“Many social measurement tools focus on social listening by monitoring keywords and buzz. While they’re helpful in many cases, these tools don’t connect the dots to show how investments in different social channels ultimately lead to sales or business objectives,” said Phil Mui, Google Analytics group product manager, explaining how the new tool is designed to go beyond listening.

“Our goal with the new reports is to tie social activities and referrals to measurable, meaningful economic value so businesses can more effectively evaluate which social channels are impacting their bottom line, and which tactics will lead to a conversion.

A sample report displays what Google calls “last interaction social conversions.” That refers to a conversion or sale that occurs as a result of a consumer clicking through from Facebook or another social network to an e-retail site and completing a purchase in the same session.

The report also displays “assisted social conversions,” which shows the conversions or sales that have come about during a time period designated by the marketer—say 30 to 60 days—during which a consumer has socially interacted online with the e-retailer, but then comes back to purchase later. (Google Analytics uses cookies to track visit and conversion behavior.)

For example, if a consumer clicks on a link in a Twitter message, or tweet, that takes her to an e-retailer’s site and doesn’t purchase immediately, but then returns and makes a purchase three weeks later, Google records that as an assisted social conversion."

Large networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have stayed out Social Data Hub, so the new Social Reports won’t include some of their activity that can’t be found in other ways.

However, others like Delicious, Digg, Disqus, Livefyre and Reddit are participating, so Social Reports are more than just Google+ reporting.