I’ve discussed this topic before – how to select the right Web Analytics solution. However since then social media has really taken off and tracking social media and tying it back into the ROI of your various online marketing efforts. With many of the traditional web analytics being slow to take advantage of this area for web metrics, many other small (and a few large) companies have flooded in to fill the void.
There are now so many options for tracking Tweets, Facebook fans, and YouTube subscribers it can all be a tad overwhelming. The other fly in the ointment, if you will, is the fact that most of these social media tracking solutions do not tie directly into any of the various analytics tools out there, so it’s a tedious process to tie your insights from one to the other and try and calculate the ROI.
Thankfully the Web Analytics vendors out there are starting to see the light and are starting to provide solutions of their own and I wouldn’t be surprised if consolidation amongst all the various social media tracking isn’t already underway.
Right now, in my opinion, the best complete solution you can find is Omniture SiteCatalyst. They recently announced a partnership with Facebook which allows them to gather Facebook fan page, advertising, and even app data into SiteCatalyst. Along with their data insertion API that can pull data from Twitter and their Genesis partnership with Radian6, they already can track two of the most popular social media platforms as well as plug into a multitude of sentiment data. If you already have Omniture on your site, you have a direct tie into your campaign and web site data as well. This is powerful and can help you tie all your social media efforts directly to your bottom line.
Now if Omniture can also start tying in to other social media platforms like YouTube, Digg, Reddit, LinkedIn – they will truly have a complete solution.
Of course Omniture is not cheap – I believe their lowest base license is something along the order of $500/month and is based on site traffic, and this is not even including the implementation hours you are required to purchase for the first year of service. So what other options do you have? The poor man’s solution is to utilize the tools already provided by Facebook, the free Twitter tools, etc. and then manually try and tie it back into the data you have in Google Analytics. The up-front cost of this is fairly cheap (free), but what you save in up-front costs, you waste in man-hours. What could be gleaned from Omniture within 1-2 working days, may take 1-2 weeks with the free solutions out there – and if you are paying your analyst what they are worth – you’ll quickly be spending more than $500/month on this effort.
So bottom line – if you need to ramp up quickly with social media tracking, I highly recommend Omniture’s solution. If you cannot quite afford their offerings right now, then wait a a year until consolidations in this part of the industry are in full-swing – as other options may become available. With luck, Google Analytics may also offer some free (or low-cost) options for the business that cannot afford the higher-end solutions.