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Tracking Social Media Success With Google Analytics

In today's world, having a large social audience can mean BIG BUCKS and because of that, now more than ever, businesses of all sizes are investing a lot of time and money into social media as a form of branding and marketing. With that being said, I wanted to share how you should go about tracking the success of your social media efforts using Google Analytics in a few simple steps. Using Google Analytics makes it easy for you to track how many conversions that you are getting from your social profiles the beauty of using Google Analytics is that it is TOTALLY FREE! 

Google Analytics & Social Media Traffic

Assuming you are doing some search marketing to supplement your social, you should probably already have Google Analytics setup. If you don't, there are tons of video tutorials out there and Google's support page on installing Google Analytics is also a great learning resource.

If you aren't sure if you have Google Analytics installed, you can simply take a look at the source code of your home page to see if you have a GA tracking code on your site. To find it, simple view your source and see if you can find the GA tracking code which always contains the text “UA-“ followed by a set of numbers (unique analytic tracking ID).

To view the source code of any page, simply visit that page with an internet browser and right click anywhere on the screen. After right clicking, an option to “view source” should show up as shown in the screen shot below. 

example of how to view source

When you have the source open, simply push control + “F” on your keyboard and search for “UA-“. If you have a tracking code, you will see the “UA-“ portion of that code highlighted. If you don’t you won’t find the tracking code and will need to think about installing it soon! I wrote a great blog post on how to install Google Analytics for the first time here. Here is what the code typically looks like. 

Example of what a Google Analytics tracking code looks like


It's worthy to note that the Google Analytics tracking code is always supposed to be placed right before the closing head tag which looks like </head>.  So you can also search for “</head>” and you might find the tracking code present that way too. If you find the code, but you don’t know the username and password to the account that setup Analytics for you, then you will have to try and reach out to your webmaster (or who ever created the account) to get the username and password. 

Common Ways to Analyze Your Data

Once you have Google Analytics installed you will need to collect data, but if you are like most of our clients who have built a large audience, you will have data on your reports that are actionable and very insightful. Some of the reports that I most commonly use to track social media performance include:

  • Landing page reports – With this reporting feature you can see which social profiles are driving the highest quality traffic to your website. Alongside with which pages are being used as entry points. 
  • Location Reports – With this reporting feature you can see which social profiles are driving the highest quality traffic to your website. And which locations are performing the best for your social campaign.  
  • Mobile Device Reports – With this reporting feature you can see which types of mobile devices are driving the best performing type of traffic to your website.

So how can you tell if a certain landing page or city is providing you with better traffic? Well, if you have form submission tracking or phone call tracking setup in Google Analytics all of these stats are provided and attributed to dimensions and primary dimensions such as landing pages and cities. You can see which combination of landing pages (or any primary dimension) and social referral sources (or any secondary dimensions) are converting or performing at a better rate. A conversion could be a phone call, email sign up form submission or any other type of action that you want your traffic to complete. So if you see that visitors from Miami, Florida that enter your site via Linkedin convert at a much higher rate than other profiles you may want to focus more efforts on promoting in that local area and with that social profile. Makes sense right? 

The snap shot below shows what these reports look like. I encourage you to learn how to use these reports so that you can have a firm understanding as to how your social efforts are paying off. Knowing how to gauge the success of your social campaigns is especially useful if you are out sourcing the work to another company or utilizing an in house team. 

Example of social media reports


So how do we view these types of reports with the different types of primary and secondary dimension combinations? Well the answer is by reading, learning and of course hands on experience. You’re not going to become a pro after reading this post, but with practice you can create custom reports that provide really insightful data that can help you optimize your efforts. Google has a great support center that answer’s most questions that are related to trouble shooting analytics and it is a great learning resource. Alternatively, I maintain a blog that is geared towards tips and tricks on using Google Analytics for SEO and Social Media campaigns which you might find helpful.

So if you need to install Analytics, go ahead and do so then wait until you have enough data gathered over time to perform your analysis. Saving this page in your bookmarks or favorites might be useful so that you can come back when you’re ready.

Using Google Analytics to Gauge Your Social Success

For those of you who already have Analytics installed and loads of historical data, let’s begin by logging into your Google Analytics account and drilling down into the view of your choice. I have chosen to use an unfiltered view labeled “All website data” for this example as shown below. 

Choosing your Analytics profile


The next thing you will want to do is become familiar with the “Social” reports located under the “Acquisition” tab on the left side of the overview page that you are prompted to. Please note that you will need to have setup conversion tracking in order to pull conversion data in your social reports. If you don’t have conversion data you can still see things like how many visitors you are getting from each social profile and how that traffic is performing over time with very easy to understand linear graphs and tables as shown in the first image example provided.

To get more granular with your data, you will need to make use of secondary dimensions. This will allow you to see which combinations of dimensions perform better than other as mentioned previously. The beauty of using secondary dimensions is that you can use them in a majority of the reports in Google Analytics not just social reports. I encourage you to learn how to use the many options for primary and secondary dimensions as it is a very advantageous for anyone analyzing marketing data. Regardless of which report view you are in, the primary and secondary dimension settings will always appear just between the linear graph and table as shown in the screen shot below. You can click on the primary dimension setting button which usually reads “more”. Alternatively the secondary dimension button is usually pretty straight forward and easy to identify. Both usually have the ability to search and scroll through your list of options. 

Learning how to use primary and secondary dimensions


Once you know how to use your primary and secondary dimensions you will probably want to start experimenting with them in many of the available reports. You will find that you can do a lot with Google Analytics aside from just monitoring your social performance. I encourage you to learn as much as you can and even try to get your certifications for both Analytics and Adwords.

What Did we Learn Today?

Fundamentally we now know how to track the progress of your social and how to get your tracking set up properly if you didn’t already do so in the past. A marketing manager or anyone that does marketing is only as good as the tools he or she knows how to use.

I encourage you to practice and learn as much as you can about Google Analytics. If you have any questions about social media and Google Analytics please feel free to comment below!

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