We all like to debate the merits of Google’s social media efforts. It makes for some spirited back and forth but the truth is that Google is not a social media giant today and may never be.
With today’s announcement of social media integration into Google Analytics we may now have a vision into one way that Google could put a hurt on the likes of Facebook and Twitter without having to be a social media giant. You see, the world of social media is a lot of hype and promotion. However, the industry gets painfully clumsy when talk of measuring success and failure comes around the table. With this product introduction, Google could hold an important key for marketers. As a result maybe, just maybe, marketers will be looking more closely at more social media channels (including one Google+ ;-)) and see the value of being in even more places. The Google Analytics blog tells us
…. as the social industry matures, marketers and web analysts need true outcome-oriented reports. After all, although social is growing in popularity, brand websites – not social networks – remain the place where people most often purchase or convert.
That’s why we’re releasing a new set of Social reports within Google Analytics. The new reports bridge the gap between social media and the business metrics you care about – allowing you to better measure the full value of the social channel for your business. We wanted to help you with 3 things:
-Identify the full value of traffic coming from social sites and measure how they lead to direct conversions or assist in future conversions
-Understand social activities happening both on and off of your site to help you optimize user engagement and increase social key performance indicators (KPIs)
-Make better, more efficient data-driven decisions in your social media marketing programs
I think by now you get the idea that you can find plenty of deep dive blog posts for report details around the industry blogs. That’s not necessarily where we play so I do invite you to “get into the weeds” with various reports like the Overview, Social Sources and the Activity Stream. All very cool things for sure and ones that will be jumped into with gusto by marketers who are starving for this kind of data.
What strikes me about this entire thing is the list of Social Data Hub partners that is included in the Google Analytics offering that allows for further examination of social media impact with partner social outlets that include Blogger, Delicious, reddit, Google+, Read It Later, Disqus and about 15 more. Missing from that list, however, are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
So is this important? I believe so. If marketers will have a chance to find out more information about how certain social channels contribute to true KPI’s (like revenue and anything that drives it) they may start to pay more attention to these channels. Will that mean they will ignore Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Of course not! That’s crazy talk.
It could, however, help to shift their mindset away from the Big 3 a little bit more and help them discover ways to reach better sources of more measurable, and possibly more passionate, consumers. And it doesn’t hurt the folks in Mountain View that marketers can now see Google+ impact more directly either. With these reports available, Google may get brands to promote a Google+ presence more which, in turn, could bring more people to the social network thus growing numbers in ways that are impactful (ie more than just Internet industry insiders) rather than just for hype. Imagine if WalMart wanted to see the impact on sales of smaller outlets and started to say “Join Us on Google+” in their ads? Do you think John Q. Public might start to take a look? It makes sense if you think about it.
While the ability to measure the impact of social media more precisely is indeed big news, the bigger story could be that Google has truly capitalized on what it does best: make sense of a lot of information. Let’s face it, even if Google hired the top social media minds the market’s preconceived notion of Google and social is that they are not in the same room together. Maybe Google has recognized that rather than fight that battle they can flank their social adversaries by doing what they do best rather than doing what they aren’t so great at.
What’s your take on this offering? Are you excited? Would you like to see more insight into other smaller (and possibly more manageable and profitable) social options? These are interesting times we live in, aren’t they?
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