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  • Google Analytics Social Tracking – Likes & Unlikes Bug?

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    Google Analytics - Like Unlike BugI have written several articles (here and here) about implementing and using the new Google Social Tracking Analytics, announced on June 29, 2011.

    It’s a very useful addition to Google Analytics and a great new tool for you to assess the effectiveness of your website’s integration with Facebook, Twitter, Google +1 and (when the JavaScript callback bug gets worked out) the LinkedIn Share button.

    However, since implementing Google Analytics Social Interaction tracking on our blog, I’ve noticed that the count of Facebook Likes and Unlikes seems, well, off … way off.

    Unnaturally High Number of Unlikes in Google Analytics

    For the period of July 17, 2011 to August 17, 2011, Google has recorded 177 Likes on our blog and 64 Unlikes.

    Google Analytics Facebook Likes and Unlikes Count Bug

    Now, perhaps people are just having a hard time deciding whether or not they like our content, but a 3:1 ratio of Likes to Unlikes seems like too many Unlikes and, as our blog does not trade in controversial topics, it just doesn’t seem right.

    Comparing Like / Unlike Metrics between Facebook Domain Insights and Google Analytics

    I decided to see what Facebook Domain Insights had recorded for the Like Button for the same period, and its Like total was 241 which is the total of Likes and Unlikes count with Google Analytics.

    Facebook Domain Insights Likes Count

    I recently wrote a post about Facebook Domain Insights and Google Analytics Social Tracking, comparing the features of these two visitor-metrics tools, and noticed this disparity but concluded that it was Facebook that was getting it wrong, perhaps counting all clicks on the Like Button Social Plugin as Likes, because it was a click on the same button.

    I’m beginning to think that it’s Google Analytics that is creating the erroneous numbers, although I’m not sure. When I asked a colleague at Google about this, he replied:

    Our tracking code is pretty transparent. Any time you call _trackSocial, we’ll increment social interaction numbers. That’s it. If you simply added a call _trackSocial with the parameters “foo” and “bar”, that will show up in your reports.

    To get the Facebook like / unlike data, we have to integrate with the APIs Facebook provides. Following their docs, we implemented a little wrapper to call _trackSocial when you like or unlike something.

    So it could either be that the way this little wrapper is integrated to your site has a bug, or that the unlike event in the Facebook API is incorrectly firing for some weird reason.

    So perhaps it’s just that I didn’t realize how much people “unlike” content. I never do. What about you?

    Are you using Google Analytics Social Tracking? Let me know in the comments what you’re seeing.


    1. Good .. !!

    2. I am just about to start using it for our clients will see what we find as we explore this new function!

    3. Christina Humphries says:

      I have never tried this yet, but maybe the system is just new or buggy? I know Google doesn’t want to “spill the beans” specially on some aspects of their search engine optimization, but social networking is a very important part of SEO and this should be addressed so that web owners can have a clear idea of the direction of where they are headed to. Thanks for the wonderful post.

    4. I think facebook count the number of click on a Like button withing the tracked website… but also the like of facebook user on a Like notification (when a user likes a friend’s like directly in facebook application).

      In this second case, google analytics cannot tracks theses actions.

    5. Anonymous says:

      Hi! I’m really glad I found your article. One day at work, our site received around 500 “Unlikes” and no “Likes” for ONE page. This is a huge departure from the norm. We usually get a maximum of 3 “Unlikes” per week. I definitely think this is a huge bug but I can’t find any documentation on how to fix it.

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