How to Track Social Media in Google Analytics

Tracking Social Media in Google AnalyticsSocial media should be a key component of your digital marketing strategy. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, there are different platforms that you can leverage to help grow your audience and promote your brand. As you continue to post to social media, share your blog posts, relevant industry news, and company updates – you can see that your audience is growing and traffic to your site is increasing. But, what exactly is working? How can you tap into your Google Analytics (GA) to track your social media efforts and the overall return on your investment?

Create a Custom Segment

When you are starting out in analytics you have a limited number of reports that you can view easily. By creating a custom segment, you will have more control over how your data can be displayed as well as read. If you set up a custom segment that mirrors what GA is already tracking from each network, we will have more flexibility in your reporting.

Here is how to create a custom segment:

  1. Log into your Analytics account
  2. Visit Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals (hover over the networks: you can view how they are showing up in GA, and track them accordingly).
  3. Select “Add Segment” near the top of the page. Then “+New Segment”
  4. You will be instructed to title the custom segment. Then select  “Conditions”
  5. From here change the first drop down box (by default it is set to Ad Content) to “Source” which is under Acquisition. And leave the second drop down to say “Contains”.
  6. In the Fill box, start typing in the URL’s of the Social Profiles. Once you have one of them, select “OR” to open another “source” to add your next SM platform.
  7. Once you have added all of the networks and saved your Segment, make sure both graphs match.

What we have created is a custom segment that can be used in all portions of Google Analytics. When you jump into GA, the default is ALL Sessions, which is a very high-level overview of everything. When you use the custom segments you are able to isolate individual types of traffic in your reporting.

Setting up Goals

If you are using Google Analytics or any other type of analytics system you should be familiar with Goals.  Goals, or Conversions, must be tracked in order for you to effectively measure the quality of the traffic coming to your site, as well as, how effective your platforms and efforts are working to get you qualified traffic. Setting up goals is a great way to find out this information.

Let’s walk through a basic Goal setup:

  1. In the Admin section in GA, under the View section, you will find Goals.
  2. Once selected, you will see all of the current goals in place, to create a new one select +NEW GOAL.
  3. Under the new setup, you have many options for a goal. Depending on your situation choose the best one for you goal. For this example, I’ll use the most common version. Where a customer has filled out a form for more information on your site. Select the radio button for “Custom” and hit continue.
  4. From here you need to name the goal, we recommend something indicative of the goal such as “Filled Out Form” Select  “Destination”. The Key here is to make sure you have a ‘thank you page’ with a unique destination URL (the page that pops up after the form is completed and the user selected ‘submit’). Then select ‘Continue.’
  5. From here you input he ‘thank you page’ URL like this:
    Social GA 1
  6. Next, if you have a monetary value to place on each form filled out you toggle the button to “On” and add the value. If you do not have a value, many do not, just leave it ‘Off’.
  7. Then there is the option to set up a funnel, limiting how the user can get to the ‘thank you’ page. The user has to go through this process in order to be counted as a goal/conversion. This is especially important if you have multiple forms and one thank you page. Turning on ‘Required Step’ means that in order for a conversion to be reported a visitor MUST view that page (or step) before they view the conversion page.
Social GA 2

With the goals created, we can now view what the Source/Medium of each of our conversions was. To view the number of goals completed and from what source they came from in analytics go to Conversions > Goals > Overview – you will see the goals completed over time, but if you select Source/Medium in the bottom right you can differentiate where the goal completions came from.

Social GA 3

Using UTM Parameters

What are UTM parameters? Glad you asked, the simple answer is that they are tags that are tracked by Google Analytics. It’s a way to get more specific details on the links that you share, for example, the links that you share from Twitter or Facebook.

Here is an example of a URL with a UTM Parameter attached: www.CustomerMagnetism.com/?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=whitepaper&utm_campaign=create-engaging-whitepaper

Google makes creating these very simple with their URL builder. The required criteria to fill out is Source, Medium, and Campaign, but you also have the opportunity to add the Term, and Content. Keep in mind the parameters are case sensitive and you should develop a consistent naming strategy to keep the data within Google Analytics organized.

Setting this up will give you additional insight into the performance of your social media platforms. In analytics you can find the results of your parameters here: Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns.

Checking Demographic Breakdown

Next under the audience section on the left, select the ‘Demographics’ or ‘Interests’ choice, if they are not set up you will see a section explaining what you are setting up. It looks like this:

Social GA 4

Select enable, and then… well… that’s it! It will take 24 hours before the data is available for you.

Once set up, you will have an abundance of data to show your manager the type of user who is coming to the site. This set up will help you identify and target high-value users.

Understanding your audience in terms of gender, age, and interests lets you also understand the kinds of creative content you need to develop, the kinds of media buys you should make and the kinds of audience(s) you need should be targeting. It’s a great way to redefine your strategy and make sure your efforts match up to the audience interacting with the content.

Conclusion

Some businesses may be skeptical  about using social media to promote their brand or connect with their audience, but with the right strategy in place and the right way to track your efforts, you can prove to your boss that social media is worth your time and effort. Now, you have a few different tools and options in place to accurately track your efforts and prove ROI to your boss. And if you need a little help learning how to create a comprehensive social strategy and track it, we are always here to help.

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Dan Herbert

Dan has been a part of the Customer Magnetism team in the role of Digital Project Manager and part-time Grill Master since 2011. Dan is Google AdWords and Bing Ads Certified, along with being overly dedicated to baseball, beach flag football, and The Ohio State Buckeyes.