Google Social Tracking Still Missing Key Facebook Metrics

With the launch of Google Plus, Google decided it was time to add tracking of its +1 button and other metrics across Facebook and Twitter. But a full set of social media data -- especially as it relates to return on investment -- doesn't show up completely in Google Analytics, despite promises to that effect.

With the launch of Google Plus, Google decided it was time to add tracking of its +1 button and other metrics across Facebook and Twitter.

But a full set of social media data — especially as it relates to return on investment — doesn’t show up completely in Google Analytics, despite promises to that effect.

Which social metrics can Google Analytics track?

Google Analytics’ new social interaction tracking allows you to track Facebook likes, unlikes and shares from social plugins on your website, and you can enable these measurements by adding tracking code to your site.

This similar to Facebook’s domain level insights, but not as extensive. Facebook Insights for your Domain provides specific demographic information about the people taking social actions on your website, as well as impressions caused by those actions throughout Facebook.

Google Analytics does allow users to see how site behavior changes when a user interacts with a social plugin, along with the total number of social actions taken, plus a report comparing the pages with the highest number of social actions.

These new updates to Google Analytics have also added the ability to track Tweets about specific URLs on your website. Again, this tracking records social actions on your website from the Tweet button in a similar way to how Facebook and +1 social actions are measured.

Which social metrics aren’t tracked by Google Analytics?

As much as Google’s attempts to measure social media are in the right direction, we’ve still got a long way to go. There has yet to be tracking implemented for Facebook’s popular social media plugins, such as commenting.

Comments hold a lot of weight when it comes to Facebook’s EdgeRank determination of which content gets higher in a user’s news feed. Adding this plugin on your website is extremely helpful for starting conversations both on the social network and your site. Being able to track this would be extremely useful, but as of now Google Analytics is unable to do so.

The like box and Facepile plugin has helped many websites convert their existing traffic into instant Facebook fans without ever anyone leave the website. Tracking the interactions of these plugins in Google Analytics would help give marketers a better sense of how this plugin benefited their Facebook efforts before and after.

Similarly, being able to track the difference with website social activity before and after open graph protocol meta tags installation would help show the importance of these additions for your website and social presence.

It will only be a matter of time before Google Analytics begins adding more key Facebook and other social metrics, but in tell then these are a few of the important Facebook metrics that aren’t currently being tracked in Google Analytics.

Brian Honigman is a social media account manager at LunaMetrics.