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  • Using Google Analytics & Facebook Domain Insights to Track Social Actions on Your Website

    Google Social Tracking Analytics & Facebook Domain InsightsThe Facebook Social Plugins (Like Button, Send Button, Comments Box) make integrating your website with Facebook, via the Open Graph, fairly easy.

    But how best to track users’ social actions on your website and your website links on Facebook?

    This article explains how these two powerful Social Analytics tools differ, the pros and cons of each, and how you can use them together to get useful insights into your analytics…

    Now that Google has rolled out Google Analytics for tracking social interactions, many users would like some clarity on how best to use Google Analytics with Facebook Domain Insights, Facebook’s own tool for measuring social actions on its Social Plugins on your website.

    Google Analytics Social Interactions Tracking and Facebook Domain Insights

    Although both Facebook Domain Insights and Google Analytics Social Tracking offer statistics for Facebook Social plugins on your website — how many times users clicked the Like or Send buttons or used the Comments box — each has its strong points.

    Facebook Domain Insights provides lots of user data on actions on Facebook — how many times links to your website are showing up in the News Feed, Page Walls and Profile Walls, how many times users posted links to your website on Facebook and how many times those links were clicked. And, importantly, Domain Insights provides user-demographic data.

    Facebook:
    Facebook Insights for Domains offers a consolidated view of key metrics for any website, even those that have not implemented Facebook Platform. For example, if a user links to your site in their Facebook status message, that data is included in the analytics for your domain. You can access sharing metrics and demographic information per domain and per URL so you can optimize your content for sharing and better tailor your content to your audience.

    Google Analytics announced its enhanced analytics for social tracking on June 29, 2011. These new metrics provide more detail on actual actions on your website than does Facebook Domain Insights, distinguishing between clicks on the Like button that Like or Unlike your page, as well as more options for date ranges.

    Google:
    With Social Plug-in Analytics, recorded interactions range from a Facebook “Like” to a Twitter “Tweet.” While event tracking can track general content interactions as well, Social Analytics provides a consistent framework for recording social interactions. This in turn provides Google Analytics report users with a consistent set of reports to compare social network interactions across multiple networks.

    Comparing Google Analytics Social Tracking with Facebook Domain Insights

    Both analytics tools offer detailed tracking on your website social actions, but they differ primarily in the details they provide and, importantly, in the way the analytics are presented. The only metrics they have in common are how many times the Facebook Like and Send buttons and Comments box on your website were interacted with.

    Beyond that, each analytics tool offers unique ways to slice and dice your visitor stats.

    Facebook Domain Insights: THE Analytics Tool for On-Facebook Data

    When it comes to providing visitor data for actions taken on Facebook, Domain Insights is definitely the tool.

    Facebook Domain Insights User Demographic Statistics

    One big benefit Facebook Domain Insights offers is user demographics — the age, gender, language and country of those posting, sharing and clicking on your links:

    Facebook Domain Insights Demographics

    Facebook Domain Insights distinguishes between two types of links to your website posted to News Feeds or Walls:

    1. Social Plugins: Links generated by Facebook Social Plugins on your website — the Like and Send buttons and the Comments box;
    2. Organic Shares: Links that people included in their status messages or Wall posts;

    Facebook Distribution and Engagement

    For the Social Plugins and organic shares, Facebook Domain Insights displays:

    • the number of times people viewed stories (impressions) generated by Like button clicks on your website;
    • the number of clicks sent to your website from stories in News Feed, Page Walls and Profile Walls;
    • the number of views of inbox messages (impressions) generated by the Send button;
    • the number of clicks sent to your website from Send button messages;
    • the number of times people included a link (organic share) in a status message or Wall post;
    • the number of times people viewed stories (impressions) generated from organic shares;
    • the number of organic clicks sent to your site from stories in News Feed, Page Walls or Profile Walls.

    Website Engagement: Tracking Actions on the Facebook Social Plugins

    Facebook Domain Insights also provides the following data about actions taken with the Social Plugins (Like, Send, Comments)on your website:

    • the number of times a Like button, Send button or Comments box was displayed on your site or specific page (impressions);
    • the number of times a Like button, Send button was clicked on your site or specific page;
    • the number of times people clicked a Like button on your site AND added a comment;
    • the Like button CTR (Click-Through Rate) — Impressions divided by clicks.

    Google Analytics Social Tracking: Better Website Social-Engagement Data

    Facebook provides a lot of very useful data on actions on Facebook, as would be expected. And, of course, Google doesn’t have access to this data, so Domain Insights is the tool for measuring on-Facebook distribution and engagement.

    However, Google Analytics is definitely THE analytics tool for tracking actions on your website, offering bounce rates, time on site, % of new visits — the standard Google Analytics fare — as well as graphs and charts. Plenty of ways to slice and splice the data!

    And you’re not just limited to Facebook Social Plugins. Google Analytics Social Interactions tracking also supports the LinkedIn Share button, the Twitter Tweet button, and the Google +1 button.

    NOTE: Read my Social Media Examiner post on implementing Google Analytics Social Tracking on your website.

    AND you can track Facebook “Unlikes” as well as Likes. As mentioned below, it appears Facebook Domain Insights aggregates both Likes and Unlikes into one number, perhaps due to the fact that they represent clicks on the same button.

    Google Analytics Social Interactions Tracking provides:

    • Engagement: Displaying the number of visits with no social engagement along side the number of visits where there was social engagement, you get a quick read of how many visitors to your site are using your social buttons
      Google Analytics - Social Engagement
    • Action: This provides the number of clicks on each social button (the social “action” taken) and a nice pie chart:
      Google Analytics Social Tracking - Actiion
    • Pages: Ranked in descending order of total Social Actions, this displays the URL (“Social Entity”) of each page on your site where a Social Action occurred:

      Google Social Analytics - Pages

      As mentioned below, you can’t enter the URL for a specific page on your site to get its tracking stats, so you have to just click through screens until you find the page you’re looking for.

    Comparing Useability, User Interfaces & Data

    Discrepancies in Website Like Button Clicks

    I noticed that there was a discrepancy with the number of Like-button clicks between Facebook Domain Insights and Google Analytics for a given week.

    Domain Insights indicated there had been 41 clicks to the Like button, where Google Analytics indicated 28 Like clicks and 11 Unlike clicks. Totalling 39 clicks on the Like button. I suspect that Domain Insights may be counting both Likes and Unlikes as the same click on the Like button.

    The stats for the number of Send button clicks was approximately the same. Domain Insights indicated 8 “total number of recipients” in messages sent with the Send button, and Google Analytics indicated 6. The difference is likely due to the ability to have multiple recipients for a Send-button message.

    Viewing Stats for Your Individual Website Pages

    Facebook Domain Insights offers an easy way to get the tracking data for an individual Web page, via a “Select Page” link:

    Facebook Domain Insights - Select Page Link

    You just paste in the full URL in the popup dialog and — voila! — You have the stats for that page, available for today or the week (But NOT for the month, which is available for all but the “Select Page” view).

    Google Analytics, although it does provide much greater flexibility in selecting data ranges, does not allow you to input a specific website URL for which you’d like the tracking data.

    THE TAKEAWAY: Use Both Google Analytics Social Track AND Facebook Domain Insights

    Each of these two analytics tools has its strengths, and using them in tandem to gauge the effectiveness of your website’s social buttons is definitely the way to go.

    Let me know in the comments your experiences using these two tools.

    Comments

    1. Thanks for the post. Definitely a great way to handle social analytics – one issue though is that I have not found Google social analytic to be completely accurate based on couple of tests

      Laura
      SocialAppsHQ

    2. Interesting insight. Recently I conducted a similar study but looked at reach for likes vs shares and concluded that people’s action on sharing things ‘custom’ had a greater effect for reach. 

      We wrote a post over here - http://www.cardinalpath.com/using-googles-new-social-analytics-reports that explains the Google Analytic _trackSocial piece. A bit more in depth I hope you enjoy :)

      • Hi Jackson, Yes, great post! I am going to tweet it. It’s a nice complement to this post and, as you say, gets into more detail on reading your Google Social Tracking Analytics. Thanks!

    3. Helpful comprehension. I just made the identical analysis nonetheless considered grab would like vs . stock shares plus figured some people’s measures for spreading elements ‘custom’ obtained an even better outcome to get arrive at.

    4. Thanks for this blog, it is very helpful. However, what I don’t quite get is the difference between Google and Facebook when it comes to referral traffic. Because
      “the number of clicks sent to your website from stories in News Feed, Page Walls and Profile Walls”
      is completely different from the number of referral traffic which comes from Facebook based on the Google Analytic Numbers. Does anyone know why?

      Stefan

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