Every other month it seems that Google releases an exponentially higher user count to further legitimize its social media brainchild, Google+. As of late June, this number reached an impressive 250 million users. Although approximately 80 million of those newly created profiles are migrated Google Places profiles that were converted, Fortune 500 companies are anxious to devise a strategy for this new social media platform even though levels of engagement have yet to be determined.
One of the challenges for agencies servicing enterprise companies is illustrating the value and potential impact of this channel, in part by the lack of adequate on-page analytics that help verify efforts over time with concrete numbers. In September 2011, Google released a statement confirming that on-page analytics is in the works for the burgeoning network, yet a solution has yet to be released almost a year later.
In lieu of a comprehensive on-page solution, Google+ Ripples was introduced, which reports content sharing across the network on a per-post basis. Although the graph is interactive and is great for identifying influencers who share your content, enterprise social pushes rely on full on-page analytics to lend insight into campaign performance on an ongoing basis, something Ripples fails to offer.
Comparatively, Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics offer engagement, demographic and geographic metrics. Furthermore Twitter’s paid campaign analytics dashboard enables advertisers to create multiple campaigns with selectable date range capabilities and various metrics, mimicking the Google AdWords interface.
In Google’s defense, its analytics platform has actively developed social media reports that lend insight into social media impact, including social sources (referral traffic), conversions and social visitor flow (tracking click path from social network to website) reports. However, not all websites utilize Google Analytics, leaving many businesses with limited reporting options to measure the impact of business Plus profiles on the performance of corporate websites. Ideally Google+ would directly offer the same social reporting capacity available in Google Analytics.
Companies who have limited social reporting capabilities can utilize analytics referral reports to isolate traffic sent from Google+. Another tool, Allmyplus.com, reports Google+ metrics for profiles, including +1’s, comments and reshares. The tool also breaks out shared content type and even allows for profile metric comparisons. This is great for competitive research, lending insight into the social impact of competitor profiles.
Editor’s Note: The author recently wrote an in-depth analysis of Google+ Ripples, including an update for marketers on reporting options and Google+ user trends. The full report can be downloaded at the Covario website.