Analytics packages are constantly adapting, developing to take into account the many different actions that websites now need to track and measure. Social Media is one of these, which also now needs to prove contribution to the bottom line.
Social media does not cost money to participate in, but developing your profile properly and professionally does. And the time factor must not be ignored as it takes time to build up and maintain a presence on social media, and it then becomes another medium which customers will use to communicate with you on, so it will require ongoing maintenance and attention.
However, when compared to the cost of TV or print, and also when taking into account the potential audience you can access for a fraction of the costs of these, social media comes into its own. And any money you invest in social media, is a long term investment in your online presence, which you build and enhance, rather than a short burst which will be over as in the case of a magazine ad or an advert break in the middle of a TV program.
Various analytics packages now offer special social media tracking and analysis features, whereby you measure not only fans or interactions with your brand on social networking sites, but also clickthroughs on links posted on Twitter or Facebook and customer engagement with the site in general from these sources.
Businesses can start to build up real actionable data on client segments from these networks, to allow them to better optimise their presence and investment even further.
For more reading on this, here is an article on the importance of measuring social media success and considerations for analytics: http://www.sociableblog.com/2009/07/07/measuring-social-media-success/ .
Thanks to Dave Chaffey for this example screenshot taken from his post explaining “how to configure Google Analytics”: http://www.davechaffey.com/blog/web-analytics/configuring-google-analytics-guide/