It’s a question still asked in board rooms, on conference calls and in face-to-face meetings probably a thousand times a day. What is the ROI of Social Media?

Google as ever love to listen and offer solutions and it’s aim is to answer that question with the latest update to Google Analytics.

The nature of social media makes it difficult to really quantify where or when sales funnels begin and what exactly social media is responsible for, but with the new set of social reports within the much trusted Google Analytics system Google claims to “bridge the gap between social media and the business metrics you care about”.

The ‘Social Report’ as Google label it, should help you identify the full value of traffic from social sites and measure direct conversions and also their impact on future conversions. The official Google Analytics blog has a good introduction to the new features. What is particularly helpful is the analysis of shares, via Twitter, Google +, etc which is often a strong indicator of how well your content is being pushed out and your reach is being extended beyond just your own following.

It is far from perfect, but for free this latest tweak by Google Analytics goes a long way towards catching up the with Web 2.0 world it has never really been able to serve. The ability to track downloads of MP3 fileslike podcasts is still awaited, but at least now you are able to track more readily in a single place, who is ‘sharing’ your content and promotions.

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