Community managers we speak with often have trouble differentiating between what Google Analytics measures versus what Argyle Social measures. That’s more than understandable, as there is definitely some overlap between the data that both products give you. Even so, social analytics tools and web analytics tools measure fundamentally different things.

Fortunately, I whipped up a super-fancy Venn diagram (in MS Word!) that will hopefully clear this whole thing right up:

Web analytics tools track hits to your website. Social analytics tools track your social activity. Each helps you answer a distinct set of questions.

Web Analytics

Web analytics tools are great at answering questions like:

  • How many visits did I get to my website?
  • What pages did people look at?
  • What landing pages are performing well/poorly?

Social analytics tools can’t answer these questions and don’t try to. If you want to answer a question like this, turn to your web analytics tool.

Social Analytics

Social analytics tools are great at answering questions like:

  • How much awareness am I generating via social networks?
  • What links are being clicked?
  • What types of social content are good at generating comments and likes?

Web analytics tools have no clue what’s going on within your social networks, so they can’t help you here. If you want to answer one of these questions, turn to your social analytics tool.

The Overlap

There is always an overlap in any Venn diagram. In this one, the overlap between web and social analytics is the handoff between your social channel and your website.

Most community managers spend a majority of time curating content from other sources. But good ones also link back to their own websites. Linking to your own website is an absolute must if you want to generate leads or sales from your social activity.

Web analytics tools will attempt to tell you which of your visitors came to your website from social channels. (A new Google Analytics update features this prominently!) But web analytics tools will under-report your social traffic by as much as 70%.

The reason for this is simple: web analytics platforms use web referrer data to determine where traffic comes from. And most people don’t consume social media within a browser—they use desktop or mobile applications like TweetDeck and Twitter for iPhone. These applications don’t pass referrer data, and so web analytics tools don’t know they should attribute them to social.

Web analytics tools also fall short when attributing leads and sales to your social channel. Because most of your social activity takes place before your followers even get to your website, web analytics tools don’t have all the information they need to tell you what leads and sales were influenced by your social presence.

If you’d like to take credit for the full value you create with social media you need to be using a purpose-built social analytics tool. To learn more, read our white paper on Social Attribution & ROI or get in touch. We’d love to chat.

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