How To Track Social Media Traffic With Google Analytics

I will tell you this one truth: No matter what your business is, or who your customers are, adding social media traffic to your marketing activities can take your business to the next level of strategic growth. 

But here’s one simple fact about social media traffic: a large number of businesses are unable to effectively measure the impact of their social media marketing efforts in terms of traffic.

In fact, the CMO surveyclaimed that only 23.3% of marketers can prove the impact of social media marketing quantitatively.

The big question: how do marketers measure the impact of their social media marketing strategy? And how possible is it to do that without spending a dime on expensive marketing tools and resources?

The answer is simple: It’s about leveraging the powerful “Google Analytics” tool.

In this article, I will show you how to effectively use Google Analytics to track your social media marketing and help your brand answer the most frequently and importantly asked questions that satisfy your marketing actions.

Here’s how you can get started:

Set Up A Google Analytics Dashboard For Your Social Media Traffic[ps2id id=’Set-Up-a-Social-Media-Marketing-Dashboard-in-Google-Analytics’ target=”/]

google analytics dashboard for social medai traffic

With the readily available relevant data from google analytics, it is very easy to identify which social media channel drives the maximum and most targeted traffic to your site. It also helps to find out how social media users interact with your website.

Thus, setting up a Google Analytics dashboard to monitor and analyze your social media efforts helps you determine your social media ROI.

Creating a Google Analytics Dashboard is actually very easy. You can do it in a minute. So let’s walk through creating a brand new dashboard.

To create a Dashboard:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
  2. Navigate to your view.
  3. Open Reports.
  4. Click CUSTOMIZATION > Dashboards.
  5. Click Create.
  6. In the Create Dashboard dialog, select either Blank Canvas (no widgets) or Starter Dashboard (default set of widgets).

Screen shot of + New Dashboard link and Create New Dashboard dialog.

Finally, give your Dashboard a descriptive title, then click Create Dashboard.

Identify Your Goals & Objectives For Your Social Media Traffic[ps2id id=’Identify-Your-Social-Media-Goals-&-Objectives’ target=”/]

One thing to do before you jump in, kick start tracking, and measure your social media marketing efforts using Google Analytics, you need to identify and create S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) goals are key elements of any successful marketing activity.
But remember to align your social media marketing goals and objectives with your business’s marketing strategy.
Let’s say your goal is to drive relevant and targeted traffic to your website.
While that’s a good one, you should know that you have to make it S.M.A.R.T. with a few tweaks like: 
We will increase our monthly traffic on Twitter by 20% within the next four months.”
This goal is SMART as it is:
  • specific (increase monthly traffic); 
  • measurable ( by 20%);
  • relevant ( on twitter);
  • Timely (within the next four months)
Then, you’ll need to create strategies that help you achieve these goals in a timely fashion. Your first step might be to use a tool like Buzzsumo to find content in your industry that has already been highly shared on Twitter. Then, create something similar on your own site and promote it on Twitter as well.
Basically, your goals should be in line with your strategy as well as the metrics you track to measure success.

– Set Your Google Analytics Tracking Code For Social Media Traffic

Now that you have identified your social media goals and objectives, set up an analytics tracking code on your site.

Your tracking code is what allows Google to analyze the traffic to your site so you can get quantitative, actionable data.
tracking code for social media traffic
You can also use Google Tag Manager to gather tracking data. 
google tag manager for social media traffic
Let me show you how to do both.

How to Install Google Analytics With Google Tag Manager


Using google tag manager is the easiest way to get actionable data to prove your social media marketing ROI. In fact, Google recommends using Tag Manager for your website, as it streamlines tag management on your website.

This makes it easier for you to add other tags including AdWords Conversion Tracking and remarketing tags.
Here’s how to add Google Analytics through Google Tag Manager:

  1. Set up a Tag Manager Container code and add it to your website.
  2. Select “Tags,” then select “New,” and then select the “Universal Analytics” tag type in the Google Tag Manager.
  3. Configure your tag:
    • Name your Tag
    • Add Google Analytics property ID
    • Select Track Type according to your objectives and goals
  4. Select firing triggers. Then select “All Pages” to gather data for each page of your website.
  5. Choose “Create Tag.”
  6. Now simply publish the tag.

Check out the beginner’s guide to google tag manager for more details on getting started with Google Tag Manager.

How to Add Google Analytics Tracking Code Directly to Your Site For Social Media Traffic [ps2id id=’How-to-Add-Google-Analytics-Tracking-Code-Directly-to-Your-Site’ target=”/]

Add Google Analytics Tracking Code Directly to Your Site For Social Media Traffic

Here’s how to add Google Analytics to your website:

  • Log in to your Google Analytics account, click on “Admin.” Now select your website property from account and property columns. Now click on “Tracking Info” and then on “Tracking Code.”
  • simply copy the snippet but remember you can only use one tracking code for one website
  • Now paste this snippet onto each page you’re looking to monitor and track. Remember to paste the snippet before the closing </head> tag.
    google tracking code placement

Add Social Media Goals in Google Analytics For Social Media Traffic [ps2id id=’Add-Social-Media-Goals-in-Google-Analytics’ target=”/]

Now that you have set up a Google Analytics tracking code for your website, it’s time to add your social media goals to your Google Analytics Dashboard. Some of the most common goals are traffic, downloads, dwell time, and page views.

You can add your social media goals by logging into your Google Analytics account and clicking on the “Admin” tab. Then Click on “View” and click “Goals” and “New Goal.”
Let’s assume that your goal is to track total newsletter subscriptions. In that case, here’s what you need to do:
  • Go to “Goal Setup” and add a template of your choice. I suggest you use the “Custom Template”
  • Within the “Goal Description,” name your social media goal. For this case, it would be email subscriptions.
  • In the “Goal Details” field, select the landing page or the destination for tracking and measuring your goal. Here, fill in the URL of your landing page without the domain name.
That’s it. You’re done! Now save your social media goals, and it will start tracking and analyzing traffic to your selected landing page.

How to Interpret Social Media Data in Google Analytics

interpret social media

Now that you have set up a Google Analytics dashboard, it’s time to start monitoring the impact of your social media marketing efforts with the social analytics reports from Google Analytics.

These reports are accessible by clicking on the “Reporting” tab, then on “Acquisition” and then “Social.”
google analytics report
Here’s the big question: What social analytics reports should you monitor to analyze the effectiveness of your social media marketing?
I highly recommend you integrate your Google Analytics with platforms like Supermetrics to simplify the process of analyzing your GA data.
You can link the data with other data sources such as Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
The platform easily pulls all of the Google Analytics metrics that you need for monitoring your performance. From a single dashboard, you’ll be able to keep track of metrics such as impressions, clicks, conversions, CTR, revenue per click, etc.
Here are the seven different types of social analytics reports that will help you understand how impactful your social media marketing efforts are:

  1. Demographics & Interests
  2. User Explorer Reports
  3. Conversions Reportd
  4. Assisted Conversions
  5. Top Conversion Paths
  6. Social Reports
  7. Benchmarking

1. Demographics & Interests  [ps2id id=’Audience:-Demographics-&-Interests’ target=”/]

I’m sure you’ll agree that the major objective of any social media campaign is to reach out to the right set of audiences. Remember, not every social media user is your target audience. In other words, it’s not enough to just drive traffic from social media.

You’ll need to drive targeted, relevant traffic. This is where Google Analytics “Demographics and Interests” comes to your rescue. It allows you to analyze the demographic and interest information of incoming visitors to your website.
This can help you understand if your social media marketing strategies are effective enough to pull the right type of audience. In order to do this, you’ll need to filter social media traffic from the overall traffic segment. Once you filter the traffic, this report will help you figure out if your social media targeting is effective enough to drive the desired traffic.
It will provide you with insights to help you expand your audiences.

2. User Explorer  Reports[ps2id id=’Audience:-User-Explorer’ target=”/]

Next, you need to check if people are taking the desired action after they are directed from social media sites. To do so, you’ll need to analyze the journey of the user.

The “User Explorer” report will help you understand what social sites are driving return visitors to your site. And how those visitors navigate through your site, and when these repeat visitors return.
This report will help you understand how visitors consume and interact with your branded content throughout the buyer journey. 

Conversions Reports  [ps2id id=’Conversions’ target=”/]

google analytics user explorer report

This is yet another report that lets you understand the impact and effectiveness of your social media marketing strategies. Conversions could start from; 

  • form submissions,
  • sales,
  • email subscriptions,
  • unique page views,
  • or sessions.
With the “Conversions” report, you measure the impact of social media marketing on your conversion rate. Easily separate social media traffic as a segment to analyze conversions.
It is important to avoid taking the “last click” approach into consideration, because social media usually drives early visitors in the buyer journey, even when it isn’t the last click source leading to conversions.

4. Assisted Conversions  [ps2id id=’Conversions:-Assisted-Conversions’ target=”/]

google analytics assisted conversions report

 “Assisted Conversions” report gives you a complete picture of the impact of the different channel sources leading to the final conversion.

This report helps you identify the different channels that are pushing a user to enter your site before converting into an actual buying customer.
It is attributed to the multiple user sessions prior to conversions.

5. Top Conversion Paths  [ps2id id=’Conversions:-Top-Conversion-Paths’ target=”/]

google analytics top conversion paths

Top conversion path data help you understand the path that your audience follows before they convert. It enables you to identify all of the social media sites that are driving visitors to your website.

It will also show you the frequency of conversions from each path. Basically, these data will help you understand how well your social media marketing is working for you in terms of pushing people down your sales funnel.

6. Social Reports  [ps2id id=’Acquisition:-Social-Reports’ target=”/]

google analytics social value report

Social report focuses exclusively on social media. This report provides in-depth insights into social traffic to help you understand the impact of the social media segment.

It offers:

  • Overview of social traffic
  • Overview of specific social media sites driving traffic
  • Landing pages for social traffic
  • Conversions attributed to particular social media sites
  • Content engagement and user flow report

With these reports, you’ve insight into whether social traffic is helping you realize your goals or not.

7. Benchmarking  [ps2id id=’Benchmarking’ target=”/]

google analytics social media benchmarking report

As the name implies, the “Benchmarking” report offers insights into your traffic and compares it against your competitors in the industry.

This report points you in the right direction and helps you improve your social media marketing strategy. Filter the report further to see the benchmark in different industries and segments.

Boom You Are In

It will become easier to create and optimize your social media marketing strategy if you have adequate user data in hand. And Google Analytics helps you access that data without having to run from pillar to post.

Now that you know how to use Google Analytics to create, optimize, and improve your social media marketing strategies, put this knowledge into practice and get set to boost your social traffic, sales, and conversions.

Google Analytics is one of the best ways to learn about your website visitors.

Feel free to leave a comment so we can learn from your experience and result. Please don’t forget to share this post.
See around!