Google Analytics has just announced a new set of reports (and functionality) that will enable websites to track social interaction with their content. This comes as a welcomed addition to the new Google+1 button, as it now enables one to measure the impact of social interactions in and outside websites.
Google Analytics social engagement tracking compares the impact of different types of social actions on your website. It not only tracks +1s, but it also tracks Twitter tweets, Facebook Likes, Facebook Sends and other social actions.
Social Plugin Tracking generates three reports: Social Engagement, Social Actions and Social Pages. Social Engagement tracks behavior changes (time on site, pageviews, bounce rate, etc.) for visits from social plugins. Social Actions tracks the number of social actions users take on your site, and Social Pages compares your pages on the number of social actions they are receiving.
As you may have noticed, we released a simple Joomla plugin to add the Google +1 button to your Joomla website. This content plugin already included tracking of the clicks on the button based on Google Analytics event tracking. Our Google Analytics plugin for Joomla (Professional version) also included facebook share tracking. We will change the setup of these functionalities in the future to integrate the new Google Analytics coding.
We believe this is a useful addition to the Google Analytics interface and we hope Google will continue to integrate Social Media metrics into their new interface. The only current drawback to tracking social share buttons in this way is that you cannot set social shares as goals. This is currently possible with event tracking.