September 3, 2014

Goodbye PostRank, Hello Google Social Reports

The bad news is that as of today PostRank has been officially shut down.

The good news is you probably weren’t using PostRank or aware that it even existed. And that’s okay. Because the even better news is that last month Google released new Social reports into Google Analytics to help you hold on to all the metrics you actually cared about. So you’re social data isn’t really going anywhere. In fact, it’s more convenient to access than ever.

If you weren’t familiar with PostRank, it was a great service acquired by Google last June. It allowed content producers to understand their content better by “scoring” it based on the number of comments it received, links, mentions, tweets, and other social media metrics. If you were a small business owner, this kind of social data was invaluable in understanding the types of content your audience was interested in seeing and how users were engaging with it across the Web. But PostRank is no more.

However, site owners and content producers shouldn’t be sad. With Social reports from Google, you’ll still be able to take advantage of valuable social insights. Last month Google announced the release of a new set of Social reports inside Google Analytics. According to Google designed to help SMBs:

  • 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

How will it help you accomplish all this? With the help of five new reports.

1. The Overview Report

The Overview report will allow small business to see what they’re most interested in – the impact social media is (or is not) having on conversions.

 

With the Overview report, SMBs can easily visualize which social channels are performing the best, which need some work, and where conversions are coming in the process. With this information, business owners can assign a monetary value to the social media and understand ROI.

The Overview report breaks conversions down by Last Interaction and Assisted Social Conversions. In the report above, you’ll notice the dark blue circle shows you when social media was the last interaction between a user and a conversion, while the lighter blue circle shows where someone interacted with your brand via social media but didn’t convert until a later date.

2. Conversions Report

Before we can talk about the Conversions report, we need to have a conversation about Goals. Yes, that’s Goals with a capital G.
Goals in Google Analytics give SMBs the ability to tie actions to objectives and measure them on your site. For example, maybe you’re trying to increase engagement on blog, which you judge by the number of blog comments you receive. One way to measure this would be to keep track of each time your Thanks For Commenting Page is displayed, the page you show each time someone comments on your blog. By creating a Goal around that page, you can measure engagement on your blog. If you’re not currently taking advantage of Goals, I’d recommend reading this post from Google about how to set up Goals in Google Analytics

Now back to the report!

With your Goals identified and set up, the Conversion report allows you to measure how each of your social channels is contributing to your Goal success by giving you a site-specific conversion rate. This will help you identify what kinds of content leads to Goal completion and what your ROI looks like for each social network.

3. Social Sources

The Social Sources report does exactly what you’d expect – it helps you visualize how users behave depending on what social network they’re visiting your site from. With this report, you can see if people who interact with your content on Twitter lead to a desired outcome or if they’re too scatterbrained to make it all the way through. You can also use this report to determine what types of content do the best on which network. For example, maybe your Facebook fans are more likely to convert but your Twitter followers are most likely to share a piece of content. Knowing this can help you build out site specific content strategies that you can use in the future.

4. Social Plugins

If you’ve ever stared at your blog wondering if people even care about the content you’re producing or if you should try something else – this report is exactly what you’re looking for.

The Social Plugins report lets you measure the effectiveness of your content based on how many shares it’s getting via the different social networks and on which networks it is most popular. Again, this is invaluable information while you build out and tweak your content strategy. You may also be surprised to find out that a particular social network is more successful than you thought it was. I know many business owners are discovering this about Pinterest.

Another way to use this report? To help decide which social plugins you want to display on your Web site. Stop making your blog look like NASCAR.

5. Activity Stream

While the other Social reports listed above will show you the level of social activity on your site, this report focused on how people are engaging with your content across the greater social Web. Google will show you the URL for the piece of content shared, how it was shared, where it was shared it, and what a user said about it when they shared it with their community. Being able to easily track engagement off your site is super valuable. Not only does it give you the chance to spot content ripples, but since it also shows you the names and faces of the people sharing your content, it gives you the information you need to track your brand’s influencers. Currently Google is able to track content shared on Google+, as well as a number of hub partners including Blogger, Delicious, Disqus, Livefyre, Reddit, and others.

Social media ROI is the Holy Grail we’re all working toward. By taking advantage of the new Social reports inside Google Analytics, we can all get just a little closer. Google tells us Social reports will be available for all users over the next few weeks under the Standard Reporting Tab. I’d encourage you to take a look.

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Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

17 Reactions

  1. Ahh, so THAT’S what the social metrics tab is all about. Thanks Lisa, a fount of knowledge as always!

  2. I can’t see the actual “activity stream”. Where is it?

  3. Very useful overview on Google Social Reports and what it means to all of us, especially small business owners. Thanks Lisa!

  4. Not sad at all! These social reports look very useful indeed!

  5. Hi Lisa

    I don’t see any mention of Facebook in your post and to the best of my knowledge the Social reports in Google Analytics do not contain data regarding Facebook. I wonder what the value of the Social reports are if they do not factor in the 800-pound gorilla in the Social game.

    • +1. The value of this reporting is definitely impacted negatively if we can’t include Facebook. I also don’t see Youtube mentioned here, which is an oversight I’m hoping?

  6. I think the Big G is getting a little too big by acquiring everything on the net.

    I remember when Cisco starting doing this in the tech world. It was their demise.

  7. Thanks for this post. My social media traffic is beginning to increase, so this is good news to me to track the traffic.

  8. I don’t get it why buy a company and shut it down postrank was nowhere near being it competitor.

  9. Big G has a big apetite…
    What is the best alternative to feedburner? Mint? Feedity?

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