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How To Use Google Analytics To Track Social Media Traffic

How To Use Google Analytics To Track Social Media Traffic


The importance and role that social media marketing plays in the growth of business is one of the most heavily debated tpics among marketers and business owners today.

Most marketers and advertisers would agree that tyung social media marketing to actual business results is not a simple task. Social media marketing, in comparison to traditional media and alternate forms of digital marketing, is still in its infancy stage. Marketers are using tools that are becoming more and more sophisticated, and our strategies more defined. Hence, the role social media marketing plays in impacting the growth of business with become much easier to quantify.

So now you’re doing everything you’ve been told you’re supposed to do. You’ve made your social media profiles, you’re talking to customers online and you’re diligently posting content each and every day to create engagement and increase your brand visibility. But is it working? If not, then how do you measure how much traffic is coming to your website and how much engagement are your posts generating? How much of the traffic coming in are you converting? By accurately measuring and tracking your website’s social media traffic, you can determine which social networks deliver the most valuable and qualified traffic.

Google Analytics provides reports that can give you a number of insights right out of the box. However, unless you are tagging your social media campaigns effectively, they will not report your social media traffic accurately. In fact, Google Analytics is one of the greatest tools for measuring and reporting social media success and it is freely available and probably already installed on your website. This post will show you how to use the social media reports in Google Analytics and how to make sure they are accurate by effectively tagging your social media posts.

Identify & Set Up Goal Conversions

The first step in measuring the success of a business’s social media strategy is by determining what in the website need to be measured or analyzed. Common goal conversions include form completions, download, time spent on website, the amount of pages viewed and also the specific sequence of pages viewed by the user/visitor.

To set up a goal within Google Analytics, click your Admin tab, select your view, and click on Goals > + New Goal. 

For example in this regard, let’s create a goal to measure the number of email newsletter opt-ins from a website. The Goal setup step has a few predefined templates, but I usually recommend using the Custom selection.

Goal description is simply the name this conversion will appear as in the reports. Leave Goal slot ID as is and select Destination for the Type. 

Under the Goal details field, enter the URL of the thank youo or completion page. Do not enter the domain name. Another option is, if you know the lifetime value of one of the email subscribers then enter it in the Value field. You can even specify a sequence of pages required before a conversion is counted. For example: a multi-page form. You can enter this information in the Funnel field.


Finally, save your goal and it will immediately begin measuring all future traffic to the conversion page entered in the Goal details field. 

When you get visitors to your site you ideally want them to do something that helps you to move your business forward and grow.

When you get visitors to your site you ideally want them to do something that helps you to move your business forward and grow. This could be to buy a product or service or sign-up to your email newsletter or just be engaged and read a lot of your content. Hence, you must always be clear on what is your goal when you get people to come to your site? Without clearly defined goals it’s difficult to measure value.

Identify Your Main Traffic Sources

The next step you will need to is to discover what social media sites are sending the most traffic onto your website. In order to do that, first go to the Traffic Sources section then select Sources and All Traffic. Here you will be able to see a list with all of the websites that are sending traffic back to your websites.

The Channels report silos all individual traffic sources into their corresponding groups. This helps allow businesses to easily compare traffic from each channel medium. This is important because businesses are then able to review not only total site visits per channel, but also the engagement and conversion rates from channel-t0-channel. This helps determine the quality and value of the traffic referred by each social media channel.

If you use the date selection. This report can then be compared month-over-month, year-over-year or any other custom time frame to show changes in traffic, engagement, and conversions over a period of time. By clicking on any particular social media channel shown you can dive deeper into this report to reveal all individual referring networks.

This is the same as the Channels report. The only difference is now you’re reviewing traffic, engagement, and conversions on a network-to-network level. This can be useful if you’re wondering exactly how a specific network’s strategy is paying off in terms of goal conversions and on-site engagement.

Review Conversions From Social Media Platforms

One commonly misunderstood piece of conversion reporting is that in most of the cases, the conversion is attributed to the traffic source directly before the conversion has taken place. This is called as the Last Click Attribution.

For example, what happens when a consumer discovers the brand or product by visiting the site via a tweet and then comes back three days later through a re-marketing advertisement of yours, and end up becomes a consumer? Pay-Per-Click is awarded the attribution, even though social media is about how the customer has discovered the business.

Now you have the goal set up, the  next step is to start tracking where the conversions are coming from and what percentage of conversion you are getting. If your conversion rate is low the it is possible to improve it by making relevant changes to your website or also aim at getting traffic from alternative sources. Conversion will also be high from one particular source and not another for example- Facebook versus Twitter. So you can could spend more time on the source that is getting the best conversion.

In Google Analytics , there is a ‘conversions’ section and this is where you can view the goals. To see how many conversions social media has assisted in: Open the Assisted Conversions report by clicking Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions.

Creating A Social Media Marketing Dashboard

Proving or showing the value of social media marketing is all about how the data is bing presented. There’s no easier way to do this than to set up a social media marketing dashboard within Google Analytics.

To get started, first create a new dashboard, click Dashboard > New Dashboard. Select Blank Canvas, set a name to your dashboard, and the select Create Dashboard. 


The first widget I always create is the- Total Social Visits. To do this, I select Metricas the Standard and Sessions as the Metric. 

The most important piece of every widget in this dashboard is to filter out any non-social media traffic. This is done by adding a filter which matches, Only show + Default Channel Grouping + Containing + Social. 


From here you can easily keep adding more widgets to track what is most important to your business. Some of my favourite widgets include Conversions by Network, Time on Site by Network, Pages Per Session by Network, and New Visitor Acquisition by Network. 


It is essential that you track the business benefit of getting traffic on to your website.  In particular it is very useful to see what/which social media medium traffic is arriving to your site and what conversion you get as a result of this.

By assigning a value to this traffic you validate your time spent on social media. Measuring and reporting on how successful your social media marketing efforts are at driving web traffic is not impossible; in fact, it’s relatively easy with just a few basic reports and Google Analytics is your best friend here. It all begins with having a well-planned and organized strategy with clearly defined goals.

Image Credits: Google Analytics

Masters (MSc) graduate in Marketing

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