Google has generated a great deal of buzz around the release of Google+ – its attempt at challenging the fertile social ground that Facebook and Twitter have led. Whether the Google+ button will be as ubiquitous as Facebook’s ‘Like’ or the Tweet button will no doubt be played out over the coming months.
In parallel with the news on Google+ was the inclusion of Social tracking for Google Analytics. In essence, the ability to track and add a value to social interactions. Previously I had used a combination of advanced segmentation to work out traffic generated from social media as a crude rule of thumb, and the excellent PostRank.
Evidently Google liked PostRank as well as they recently bought the service. It will be interesting to see how this service will be integrated into Google’s Social Tracking.
Going forward the killer feature of Google’s Social Tracking is that it’s not just limited to +1′s but also Facebook Likes and Tweets and other social interactions. Being able to calculate how a web page is shared across multiple social channels plays nicely into the hands of Google’s core money making operations of online advertisements.
For non programmers, setting up Google Social Tracking in analytics is slightly convoluted, but if you feel inclined to tackle this head over to here for a detailed overview. In the case of wordpress plugins, you need to install Google+1 Button plugin and no doubt in the next few weeks there will be updates to Facebook and Twitter Plugins for WordPress by 3rd party developers.
The reports themselves will add a another layer of detail in understanding the impact of social media engagement by accurately tracking user’s interactions across a site. Certainly this may pave the way to assigning meaningful ROI’s on social interactions from the pervasive ‘finger in the air’ model.