Contributed by  Wikus Engelbrecht, Copywriter and Journalist at GraphicMail

Wikus Engelbrecht

With only a fraction of Google users having gotten onto Google+ so far, and due to a minor change Google made in their analytics uptake last week, it is now possible to track the referrals coming to your site from the new social service.

Google+ uses HTTPS to be more secure, but that strips away referrer information that would normally be passed directly to site. Now Google+ will be routed through a plus.google.com domain – which will make it easier to track for direct marketing companies such as GraphicMail use analytics and social data for conceptualizing and measuring campaigns.

Google’s roll-out of the +1 button on their search domains throbbed the digital community into airing much analysis and speculation regarding what consequences this latest raid into social media territory would have for the web 2.0 pantheon.

Among other things, the Google Plus platform, once fully operational, promises to revolutionize social information gathering and how direct marketers measure and tap consumers’ social interests when formulating new email and mobile marketing campaigns.

Social data is a relatively new tool and a product of the impressive growth and advertising power of social media. These platforms all share different types of permission-based data about their users that allow marketers to drive more effective email marketing and mobile campaigns, liberating them from doing trend guesswork. And with the approximate 1.5 billion people around the world signed up on social networks, there is no shortage of information to draw from in order to personalize communications.

Social media has made email marketing more complicated, with the scale of management required to fit all the data gears together functionally.

But marketers have the unprecedented opportunity to create bulk email newsletters and mobile campaigns specifically based upon what activities are being logged on social platforms. The data-drilling prowess of social sharing has become the ideal spouse to direct promotions, mandating email and mobile punters to be savvy about social indicators and how to best harvest these metrics.

In the case of Google Plus, the system’s own brand of social data will be utilized as a new criteria for ranking search results. Google officially first started rolling out the +1 button as an indicator in its search results back in March, allowing users to vote for the pages they found the most useful. Two months later Google launched a widget that lets website owners integrate the button into their pages, just like can be done with social widgets for Facebook’s ‘Like’ and Twitter’s ‘Tweet’ buttons. The value of +1 for users as opposed to site owners will likely come from improved search results and also from integration in the Google Plus social network, which is primed to include features like Google “Circles” to rival Facebook “Groups” and other popular peer aggregation services.

Google has also announced that +1 data will be displayed in their webmaster tools, allowing site owners to see exactly how much of an effect +1 has on their domain authority. One will be able to see how many +1 points a given page has in total, and what impact it is having on click-through rates. Google is also now going to provide analytics on any other social widget that has been installed. These social engagement reports let viewers see how site behavior changes for visits that include clicks on +1 buttons or other social activities. And the social actions reports let viewers track the number of social processes (+1 clicks, Tweets, Facebook shares etc.) taken on a site. Lastly, there will be a social pages report which allows one to compare the pages on a site to see which are driving the highest the number of social actions.

Social data helps formulate effective campaigns and marketers are in the practice of casting their metric nets wherever they can get the most reliable, most relevant and most rich statistics from.

Even with Facebook topping Google for weekly US internet traffic and sustaining 50% of mobile internet traffic in the UK, the 750 million user strong network will need to recognize the numeric powerhouse that is Google Analytics and how it could rephrase social metric gathering if Google Plus becomes popular. However, the wheels on Google’s new social vehicle will need to pick up much speed before replacing Facebook and Twitter as social metrics mainstays or even becoming a social comparison tool.


Wikus is a copywriter and journalist at GraphicMail, a prominent international email and mobile marketing service provider based in Cape Town, South Africa. He can be contacted at wikus@graphicmail.com