You may have heard that Google recently announced a new Social Media Data Hub. This is the nerdy first step in a series of upcoming social media reports that will probably launch in 2012.
Basically, Google will allow social media sites (Digg, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to send data to Google Analytics. What type of data? Information about who is sharing your content, what content they are sharing, and how they’re sharing it. Basically everything you would want to know about someone talking about your business off of your site.
I’ve read a few of the write-ups and think John Lovett did the best job. You should totally read his thoughts on the new social data hub. Here are a few gems from his post:
Well, I see this as a huge win for marketers, bloggers, publishers and anyone else trying to discern the impact of social media marketing across the multitude of channels and platforms available today.
Google’s new Social Data Hub – coupled with Google’s Social Analytics reporting – has the potential to knock the socks off these unknowing marketers.
If/when Google applies the lens of their analytics tool to this new aggregated data set, look out marketers — you just hit the jackpot!
While the big dogs in social media may take a while to come around, I see this new Hub as a potentially great equalizer for understanding the impact of social media as it relates to referrals for on-site activities which can ultimately lead to conversions and bottom line impact.
If you would like to join the Social Analytics Reporting beta you can sign up here: https://services.google.com/fb/forms/socialpilot/
If you are a social media platform and would like to send you data to Google Analytics you can review the technical specifications here: http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/socialData/socialOverview.html
So get really excited! In 2012 we’ll be able to analyze how people interacts with your content and brand on social networks. Very cool.
The Details Others Missed
But I think there’s a lot more to this announcement than meets the eye.
First, the REALLY big news that I feel has been overlooked is that Google will let other data providers integrate their data into Google Analytics. This is the first time that Google has added a non-Google data source to Google Analytics. (I’m counting Google AdWords as a separate data source, but it’s owned by Google).
Now that’s the big news.
If Google is developing the infrastructure to integrate other well-structured data sources, what’s next? Will they let me import historical data? What about industry benchmark data that I might use to provide context to my website data?
Or how about the ability to import and translate data. For example, maybe I’ll be able to translate product IDs into product names using a standard data import.
Or how about the ability to translate a single campaign id rather than using the standard utm_ campaign tracking parameters (anyone remember utm_id?)?
The ability to import data has been a common request (albeit mostly from enterprises) for a long time. This would be very well received.
The second interesting thing about the new Social Data Hub has to do with privacy. The standard version of Google Analytics prohibits the collection of personally identifiable information. But, according to some of the Google Analytics Social Data Hub technical specifications, Google will require that the username or screen name and the display name appear in the social media data feed.
This could absolutely be PII.
It seems to me that Google may need to change in the standard Google Analytics terms of service.
So at this point we’re left with a lot of questions.
But that’s OK, we’ve got some time to speculate.
NOTE: ideas and opinions above are my own. While I will be joining the Analytics team in January, I have no current knowledge of Google’s master plan