How to Track Social Media Analytics with Google Analytics

How to Track Social Media Analytics with Google Analytics

With all the specialized social media management tools available for businesses today, it can be easy to forget one of the earliest on the market, Google Analytics. Perhaps you already use Google Analytics to monitor your website visitors, but did you know that you can also use Google Analytics for social media management? The rich reports behind Google Analytics campaign tracking can empower your business to bring its social media campaigns to the next level.

Google Analytics and Your Social Campaigns

Well, how to track social media analytics using Google? First, you must understand the four basic metrics that Google Analytics centers its reports around. These metrics show you exactly how effective your social media campaigns are, where your brand can improve, and where they are most successful.

The four Google Analytics social metrics are network referrals, conversions, landing pages, and social plugins. These form the basis of all social media-specific reports available with Google Analytics. Network referrals and landing pages both essentially enable businesses to understand how users from different social sources arrive at your site and how they engage with it. Knowledge of your traffic sources and most-shared content is invaluable when optimizing social media campaigns and judging their effectiveness.

Furthermore, conversions and monetary value for conversions provide an easy to understand metric for this visitor data as shared content from social media brings more traffic to your website. Finally, the ever-popular social plugins tell you directly what content is being shared and where through the social callouts you may use in your campaigning.

Before You Begin

To utilize the power of these Google Analytics reports for your social media campaigns, you must have a Google Analytics account and basic page tagging already setup for your website. When you create a new account, Google will guide you through the initial steps to set up tracking and the metrics above are all included by default in the Social Analytics reports as soon as you have setup your site. Sign into your account to continue.

However, certain content that enriches the reports must be enabled by defining goals and goal values. Goals are benchmarks that you set for your websites performance that are used alongside with their attributed values to calibrate your conversion data and better understand the true value of your social media traffic.

To configure goals, go to the Admin tab and select your desired account, property, and view. In the View column, click on Goals > + NEW GOAL. Here you can create a new goal by either choosing a template, creating a custom goal or if available to your account, a "smart" goal. These goals must be actionable and can be based on metrics such as destinations, durations, events, and pages/screens per session. Assign monetary values to each goal you set in order to also be able to compare conversions to metrics in the reports. After this step, you are ready to track your social media analytics using these Google Analytics campaign tracking reports.

Here are 5 Google Analytics reports that will help command the power of your social media campaigns.

1. Who, What, When, and Where At a Glance

While common, the significance of being able to have a broad yet meaningful overview of your data cannot be understated. This most basic report gives you an immediate idea of how much conversion value is generated for you from various social network sources.

After opening the reporting dashboard for your desired website, navigate to Reporting > Acquisition > Social > Overview. You will see the relationship between sources, pages, plugins, flow, and conversions, allowing you to quickly determine the impact of your social campaigning. The Social Value chart compares the value of the social referrals you have received with the goals you have set above.

2. Where Does Your Traffic Come From?

For a more detailed view of the origins of visitors to your website and a better understanding of your strongest (and weakest) presences on various social media networks and channels, navigate to Reporting > Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals. The Social Referral chart immediately shows you the comparison of your sessions from social referrals to all sessions, as well as the originating networks.

For more detailed information about the actions involved in each originating post, select the secondary dimension "Social Action" from the drop-down menu at the bottom of the page > Social > Social Action. This displays exactly what happened where, whether it was a like, +1, or a share, allowing you to better tailor your content to the actions that resulted in the most follow-through.

3. What is Your Best Performing Content?

You can discover what content engages the most with your users through observing their landing pages. This tells you with which social media posts people are interacting, and can be seen easily in the Reporting > Acquisition > Social > Landing Pages report. As an extra bonus, compare this with the referral path of visitors using the Secondary Dimension menu at the bottom to select Acquisition > Referral Path as your secondary dimension.

4. How Do Your Campaigns Affect Conversions?

With the special goals setup above, there is also a special report that allows you to directly see the effect of social media campaigns on the conversion path of your visitors. Find this report under Reporting > Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Path. This report will display the paths that people took to converting and displays exactly at which step your visitors encountered your social media campaigns.

5. What Do Social Media Users Actually Do On Your Website?

Delve down into the specifics of the actions of your website visitors filtered by their originating network using this final report found through Reporting > Behavior > Behavior Flow > Select "Social Network" from the dropdown that initially displays "Landing Page." Knowing such information can help you tailor your website content to better fit your social media campaigns by comparing what users actually do once on your website.

Google Analytics enables you to judge not just the effectivity of your actual content, but also the degree to which measures such as small business web design or increased keyword density have on your actual site, and how it affects visitors from differing social networks.

The five reports above will help you leverage the power of social media tracking Google Analytics for your business. With simple yet rewarding metrics that enable quick and easy insights into your data, social media campaigning has never been simpler for businesses.


Sarah is a small business owner and is currently learning about marketing and using the internet. Aside from working on her own business, she likes to use social media and read travel books. Find her on Twitter.