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How to use Google Analytics for social media

If you’re running inbound marketing campaigns, there’s a good chance you’re using social media as one of your content distribution tools. If not, you should be.

Your inbound marketing strategy should be supported by social media as they form the foundation of your business and its online promotion strategy.

You need to use social media effectively to drive potential customers to your website, where they’ll convert into actual (paying) customers.

how to use google analytics for social media

Are you tracking your social activities?

But like every other aspect of your business, you need to track and measure the success of your social media efforts. If you don’t know how you’re doing, how can you improve? How can you determine the ROI of a specific inbound campaign?

Luckily, Google Analytics has the tools to allow you to track, measure, and enhance a specific social media campaign and all your social media efforts.

Once you set up your social media campaign in Google Analytics, you can see how much business is coming from each of the social media platforms on which you maintain a presence.

Using this information, you can decide where you should invest your time. You can determine which platforms are performing best for you, and where you need to improve. Plus, you can figure out where to make adjustments in subsequent social media campaigns.

So let’s show you how to use Google Analytics for social media with our step-by-step guide.

Step 1: establish your goals

Just like every other aspect of your business, you need to start with establishing goals.

Your objectives need to be aligned with your overall business strategy, and you need to know those goals so you can determine what to track in Google Analytics.

Let’s use an example, where your goal is to increase overall website traffic. You establish a target, for instance, an increase of 10% in traffic for one month.

From these goals, your social media campaign “work plan” stems. You may decide that for the month, you will create 40 Tweets and 20 Facebook posts focused on driving traffic to your website.

Your content strategy for those Tweets and posts is then centred on how to drive that traffic, whether it be with a free e-book or a blog post, for instance.

Create goals in Google Analytics

In your Google Analytics account, you then create goals that will be tracked. (We are assuming you have an account, so if you don’t, it’s time to set one up.) Google Analytics has templates, as well as custom and SMART goals.

For instance, a destination goal will tell you how many users viewed a specific page. In our example, if your goal is to drive traffic to a website landing page, the destination goal will track those conversions based on users viewing the webpage you entered.

Google Analytics provided step-by-step support in setting up your goals. After all, everything starts with your goals.

Step 2: Set up your Google Analytics social tracking

Now it’s time to set up the ability to track social media within your Google Analytics account.

Within your account, you will be creating a custom segment that will track visitors from social media platforms to your website.

Go to — Admin -> Segments and select +Add Segment.


In this view, you can see the premade segments that allow you to analyse the various traffic sources for your website, such as paid traffic or search traffic.

Select +New Segment (it’s a big red button).

new segments

Now follow these steps to add a social media segment:

Select Advanced – Conditions – Source – Contains

In the “text” field, enter the text that identifies your social media platform (, for instance). Click “or” and repeat, inserting all the social platforms on which your business has a presence. You can even add blogs or industry forums.

facebook and twitter google analytics

Finally, choose a name for this segment and click “save.” This social media segment will be available for you to view in your reports and will help you understand how visitors who arrive at your site from social media interact with your site.

ecommerce conversions google analytics

Some examples include:

  • eCommerce revenue from social media sources
  • Goals achieved from social media sources
  • Comparison between social media and other segments (search traffic, for instance)

Step 3: choose reports to analyse

Now that you’re tracking your social media, it’s time to dig into some of the important data that you need to be analysing as part of reporting on results as well as continuous improvement.

Here’s an overview of the most valuable reports.


This presents an overall view at the conversion value that your various social media channels bring in to your business. It provides a comparison of the number and value of your goal completions against those that are from social media referrals.

This report will provide:

  • An overview of your social traffic
  • An overview of the specific social media platforms driving traffic to your page
  • The landing page on your site for that traffic
  • Any conversions attributed to social platforms
  • It’s an exhaustive look at social media, and as the name implies, gives you a complete overview. The following reports dig deeper into specifics.

google analytics social overview

Social conversions

We’ll jump ahead to this one, as it’s perhaps the most important one. This shows you the number of conversions on your site that were a result of social media activity.

social conversions

You get two different views. One is Assisted Social Conversion, which tracks visitors that arrive via a social media link, leave before completing one of your goals, and then return via another route and complete the goal.

The second is Last Click or Direct Interaction Social Conversion. This is just as the name describes when someone arrives at your site via a social media link and completes the goal in that visit.

When determining your social media ROI, it’s a good idea to place equal value on the assisted conversions. After all, your social media efforts build awareness for your brand. Conversions may not happen immediately, but social media helped establish the relationship that eventually led to the conversion.

Further Reading

Find out more about creating a social media strategy by reading our social media ultimate resource.

User explorer or user flow

This shows you the interaction of users with your site, such as where users entered your site from social media, and whether they explored other pages on your site. Basically, it’s a description of the path of users from social media through your website.

You can tell whether people are taking the action you want them to once they arrive at your site. It can also tell you which social platforms are driving return visitors to your site. Using this information, you may be able to improve the landing page or the links to ensure users complete the actions you want.

social media user explorer
analytics behaviour flow social media

Network referrals

This report compares all your social media platforms, displaying engagement metrics from those networks and which send you the highest traffic.

analytics network referrals


This report is great for learning which articles or posts on your website are most often shared, and on which social platform. The report displays for you which social media share buttons on your website are clicked, and from which pieces of content.

Always set goals & track activity

Whatever the goals for your business and for your social media campaigns, it’s important to track your efforts to ensure you meet those goals.

Using these tips for using Google Analytics for social media, you’ll be able to establish goals before beginning a campaign. You can then track your success, make adjustments, and report on results.

You’ll be able to determine your ROI for social media, and take steps to improve it. With the proper data at your fingertips, it’s easier to optimise your social media marketing.

Start your social media marketing strategy with our free ebook guide

Download Our Free Essential Guide to Social Media Marketing


Author Bio: Danielle Canstello is part of the content marketing team at Pyramid Analytics. They provide enterprise-level analytics and insurance analytics software. In her spare time, she writes around the web to spread her knowledge of marketing, business intelligence and analytics industries.

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