How to Use Google Analytics for Social Media in 2019

If you are actively promoting your business with social media, it’s important to track and analyze those efforts. Like any aspect of your business, you want to be sure you’re getting a positive return on investment (ROI) for your work. You can use Google Analytics for Social Media to get that valuable data and analytics.

The best this is Google Analytics is both powerful and free. Usually, when Google Analytics is discussed, it’s as a tool to analyze website performance. In reality, though, it also holds a lot of information about social media.

let’s take a look at how to use Google Analytics to examine how social is working for your business.

How to Use Google Analytics to Track Social Media Traffic

To start with, it’s important to understand your social media traffic. Google Analytics displays how traffic arrives at your website. It includes traffic from social media. In this way, you’ll be able to establish how much traffic you obtain via social media.

To understand social media traffic in Google Analytics, look at the following report:

Acquisition –> All Traffic –> Channels

In this view, your traffic sources will be displayed, including traffic from:

  • Search Engines;
  • Direct, which is when people type your site directly into their browser or use bookmarks;
  • Referral, which is when a user clicks links from another site to get to your site;
  • Email;
  • Social.

Image: Google Analytics provides a breakdown of different social media channel traffic sources.

google analytics breakdown

And within the social report, you can look at specific social media networks by viewing

Acquisition -> Social -> Network Referrals

Google Analutics Network Referrals

Image: Google Analytics – Network Referrals provides a detailed breakdown of which social networks are driving traffic to your website.

Google Analytics provides a baseline by telling you sources of social media traffic and what social media platform is bringing the highest number of visitors to your website.

You can also get more granular in this section by clicking on any social network. Google gives you a view of data such as page views, average session duration, number of sessions, and pages per session. You can also look at how social contributes to your conversions by viewing:

Acquisition -> Social -> Overview

And to get even more detail, view:

Acquisition -> Social –> Conversions

Google Analytics Conversions

Image: Google Analytics showing reports of website conversions from social media traffic.

But we got a bit ahead of ourselves. To get into this granular view, you need to have goals.

Establish the Goals

Google Analytics can give you website information such as the number of page views to your site. It also gives how many unique visitors there are to pages. But it’s key for you to establish goals for driving visitors to your site. This will enable you to track specific actions taken by users. This also enables you to get to the granular level of whether those actions came via social media.

Examples of goals for actions include getting the user’s email by subscribing to your newsletter or downloading a free e-book. Perhaps they can also be making a purchase on your site. It can even be an amount of time spent on the website. With Google Analytics, you can track any of these metrics as goals. And each time a user completes that goal, it’s logged as a conversion.

You can also provide monetary value to each goal to track conversion values. Perhaps getting an email address by subscribing to a newsletter is more valuable to your business than time spent on the website, so you can provide greater value to that within Analytics.

To do this, we need to establish goals.

How to Establish Goals?

Click on Admin –> Account –> View –> Goals –> New Goal

With the “New Goal” option, you can either use a template or create a custom goal. While templates are easier to implement and cover specific business objectives, custom goals allow you greater focus and tracking of specific objectives. As an example, you can track newsletter subscription via Facebook, which is a direct analysis of the impact of that social media platform on your business.

Under the custom goal option, there are four varieties available:

  • Duration tracks the duration of time users spent on your site. For instance, you can establish a minimum time and set that as a goal conversion.
  • Pages or Screens per Session tracks the number of pages a user viewed during their session. Again, you can set a minimum to count as a goal conversion.
  • Destination tracks each time somebody visits a specific URL. In our example, it would be the completion or “thank you” page after the newsletter signup via Facebook.
  • Event tracks user interactions with content such as clicking on a social media button or signing up for a newsletter.

So continuing with our example of tracking newsletter sign-ups via Facebook, you would choose Destination, and then enter the URL of the “thank you” page that appears after the user signs up. Tip: You only have to enter what comes after the domain name.

Establish Values For Your Goals

Although establishing values for goals isn’t a requirement, we recommend you to establish a monetary value for each goal conversion, it can take some work to establish a value but it is worth your time.

In our example, you could determine revenue obtained per lead established through the newsletter sign-up. This could then become the goal value.

Note that Google doesn’t have a “delete” option for your goals. As a result, your goal completion data is saved to allow you to compare past and present goals. While you can’t delete them, you can turn them off, or you can edit them anytime.

Establish UTM Parameters to Track Your Goals

You can also establish UTM parameters that will allow you to track social media traffic. UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module, which is how Google tracks unique URLs. An Urchin Tracking Module parameter is a tag added to the end of a URL that creates data that’s recorded once the link is clicked; that data is sent to Google Analytics. By doing this, you can set unique UTMs for all of your social media by channel, for instance, or even as granular as per update.

To do this, use Google’s URL builder, which is a form to be completed with a variety of information:

The below image in Google Analytics shows the traffic from different sources which also includes traffic from social media. You can see that there are 134 sessions from LinkedIn.

Different UTM Parameters to Consider for Your website URL.

  • Campaign Source: which is how the traffic gets to your site (Twitter, Facebook, a newsletter, etc.)
  • Campaign Medium: which is the marketing medium that generates your traffic, such as an affiliate link.
  • Term of the Campaign: which is only required if you’re running paid advertisements; if so, you insert the keywords.
  • Campaign Content: which could be different versions of an advertisement or a link that point to the same URL.
  • Campaign Name: which is how you will identify your campaigns in Google Analytics.

Note: Source, Medium, and Name are all required fields in the form.

UTM Genaretor Form

Also, it’s important to understand that users will see your UTM parameters in their browser, so be cautious when creating names.

Once you have your UTM parameters established, you can use them to track social media.

For instance, if you generate a blog post, you can share it on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. You can then tag those links with your UTM parameters and analyze which social media platform is most effective at driving users to your blog post. If you also pay for a sponsored ad to share your blog post, you can then analyze what was more effective at generating traffic: the paid advertisement or organic traffic.

To see the data from your UTM parameters, view:

Reporting –> Acquisition –> Campaigns –> All Campaigns

If you look in the “Sessions” dropdown menu and choose one of your conversion goals, you can also see how campaigns are supporting those conversion goals. This way you’ll know how your campaigns are contributing to successful conversions.

Establish Advanced Segments for Social

The final tip for generating data on social is to build advanced segments to allow you to see specifically how traffic is generated, for instance by country, by a browser or by specific keywords.

You can customize advanced segments to separate out social media referral traffic from all other website traffic. This allows you to see how effective social media is at generating traffic and conversions.

To do this, you click:

Add Segment – +New Segment

In here, you determine segment parameters such as traffic sources, language, demographics, etc.

Then click on:

Advanced – Conditions – Include – Source – Contains

In here you enter the social media sites you want to track.

After you apply these advanced segments in the Goals section in Google Analytics, you will be able to view how your social media referral traffic contributes to your goal completions, goal value, and conversion rates for all of your goals. You will also be able to compare advanced segments side by side. This is more meaningful data to support decision-making around your social media strategies.

Google Analytics Custome Segment

Image: An example of how a custom segment can be set up for our summer_sale campaign we set up using the Google URL Builder. With this segment activate, you can get useful information such as demographics, location, time on site etc.

Final Thoughts

As with any aspect of your business, you want to be sure your efforts are generating a positive ROI. You also want to devote more time to those strategies that are generating the highest ROI.

If you’re investing in social media marketing, then it’s worth tracking, analyzing, and continuously improving those efforts. You can analyze varieties of data from social media using Google Analytics such as

  • which social media platform is bringing most visitors to your website
  • which platforms have a higher conversion of goals.

These insights will provide you with the data that you need for effective decision-making.

Author Bio: Danielle Canstello is a party of the content marketing team at Pyramid Analytics. They provide enterprise-level analytics and business intelligence software. In her spare time, she writes around the web to spread her knowledge of marketing, business intelligence, and analytics industries.