A friend recently asked me for a Google Analytics report that shows which content is getting shared on a site and on which social networks it’s being shared on.
No problem, that’s a job for a custom report!
Rather than just a simple data dump, I want to explore this segment of people: the people who take the time to share my content.
I want to understand:
1. Have these people been to the site before?
2. Where do they come from?
3. What do they share?
4. How do they share it?
5. What impact does it have on my business?
I added all of this information to the custom report.
Download the Social Sharing report and add it to your Google Analytics account.
A bit caveat to this report: you need to use the social tracking code or you’ll just see lots of Google+ events.
And this isn’t data that I would review daily. Maybe bi-weekly or monthly. Unless someone needed it sooner.
On to the report and data!
The social sharing report starts with a basic trend of social actions. These are people clicking on your Tweet buttons, +1 buttons, etc.
You can use the trend over time to look for any patterns. For example, if you blog or promote your content in any way (like via email), you probably see spike on the dates that you publish or the dates that you promote your content.
Here’s an analytics tip: use annotations! There’s a great way to record your marketing activities and explain changes in your data.
Another really cool way to use this report is to pivot the data and view which content is shared on which network all in one view. Here’s how to do that:
1. Click on the pivot table button at the top of the report.
2. Change the Pivot dimension to Social Source & Action
Now you’ve got a fancy view of what people are sharing, the action and the network.
Note: I wish you could export a Pivot table in Google Analytics. It would be so much easier than Pivoting in Excel. Google is going add Pivot export soon. At least you can export in PDF format today :)
If you do want to export a pivot view you can use the second tab in the custom report: Content Sharing Dump. This is just a flat-table view of the data. It’s two dimensions: the Social Entity (ie the URL that get’s shared on your site) and the social network & type of action where it is shared (ie Google Plus: +1).
Now let’s explore a little bit more about the people who share. Where do they come from? What is the behavior on the site?
Click to the All About Sharers tab.
First thing you’ll notice is that this report is based on traffic sources. I want to see where my sharers are coming from. Is it organic search? ppc? This is really important, it actually can help you measure the value of your marketing investment.
Would you consider SEO more valuable if it was driving traffic AND that traffic was spreading your content through social media? Sure!
We often talk about sharing content as a micro conversion. Here’s an easy way to see where those people come from.
The Social action columns are just counts of how often social actions happen. It’s a sum of all the actions across all the different social networks.
The other metrics are traditional engagement metrics, like bounces, % new visits, etc. This view of the data certainly does give a new perspective on bounce rate, doesn’t it!
NOTE: each row of data is not SEGMENTED by sharers. The metrics reflect the whole of each channel So the google/organic row represents ALL traffic from Google/organic, not the segment of google/organic that shares the data.
To segment these traffic sources by those that share just add a secondary dimension of Social Type. This will basically filter the report and only show those people that took some social action on your site.
The final part of the Social Sharing report is Outcomes and Revenue from my social sharers.
This tab divides your traffic by those that are socially engaged and those that are not. Is there a difference in the OUTCOMES? We used the previous tab to get a sense on where social sharers come from and what they do. Now we can see if they affect the business.
I HIGHLY recommend you customize this part of the report and add your own goals!
You can draw more insights out of this report by adding a secondary dimension of Social Source & Action. Now you see if there is a conversion or revenue difference between the different types of social actions.
So there you have it. This started out as a simple way to look at which social actions happen to content and turned into the behavioral impact of those that share your content.
If you have any suggestions, leave a comment below!
ajish kumar says
Thanks for sharing. It is so useful Justin. As usual, a Justin touch.
Justin thank you very much for this interesting information and for Social Report for GA account! :)
Bjoern Wein says
while the reporting level is great, I’ve seen countless sites struggle over a proper implementation of the social tracking code across their sites. Is there anything happening here in the background to ease that? E.g. an alignment with the typical social plugin providers (AddThis/ShareThis, etc) or an alignment with the large web development frameworks to ease the implementation?
A best practice overview to add social analytics to both new sites and existing sites would be great!
Justin Cutroni says
@Bjoern: I completely agree. It seems like no one can get the social plugin tracking right. We’ve got a fairly active developer relations team but we can’t get to everyone. My suggestion would be to reach out to those that are doing it wrong! The more people that speak up, the more they will be motivated to change.