Using Google Analytics to Track Social Media Effectiveness

Google Analytics social media referrals

When asking businesses why they use social media, two goals tend to bubble up to the surface. The first goal is usually engagement. Businesses want to communicate directly with their customers in a casual environment. The second goal is often to capture that traffic and drive the customers back to the business’ website.

Engagement can be simple to measure: are you in the crowded room talking to yourself or talking with others? Knowing if your audience is landing on your website isn’t as obvious.

Thankfully, by reviewing website analytics, we can find out if our social network efforts are working.

Google’s analytics platform is a premium service offered for free by the web giant. Integrating Google Analytics to track your website’s performance is a simple copy and paste manoeuver. Adding a short snippet of code allows you to identify audience behavior while they visit your business online.

Below, we’re breaking down the “need to know” basics for leveraging Google Analytics to improve your social media marketing strategy.

1. Using Google Analytics to Track Social Media Referrals

Social media referrals are visits that came to your website from a social media platform. This referral can be:


  • a reader sharing blog content from your site,
  • an ad suggesting one of your products or services, or
  • the call-to-action on your business’ social network profile.

Google Analytics will identify which site provided the visitor referral, which page they landed on, user demographics, and more.


2. Using Google Analytics to Track Social Conversions


Conversions are also tracked by Google Analytics. A conversion occurs when the recipient of a marketing message performs a pre-determined action you set up as a goal. The catch here is: you must set up goals within your Google Analytics dashboard before you can display any data.


Once goals have been set, there are three reporting modes to review conversions.


  • Conversions: the total number of conversions your ENTIRE site has received (not just social).
  • Assisted Social Conversions: these visitors came to the site from social media at least once, but may have used another traffic source before converting.
  • Last Interaction Social Conversions: these visitors came to the site from social media AND completed a goal within the same visit.


3. Using Google Analytics to Improve Social Media Evaluation


Just looking at the numbers, it seems obvious your audience is on social media.


  • More than one billion people are active on Facebook. [source]
  • More than 100 million people use Instagram every month. [source]
  • More than 610 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide [source]
  • 326 million monthly active users on Twitter [source]


Most businesses measure social engagement by impressions, clicks, and comments. Despite the numbers above, businesses may find that their results vary from one social network to the next.

Efficient and effective social sharing evaluates where the audience is and what resonates with the audience.

Social advertising provides pixels and an overview to make conversions easier to track. Yet, even these numbers don’t take organic posts or other referrals into consideration. Further, they don't provide a comprehensive picture of clicks in relation to behavior on the rest of the website.


Additionally, posts that go “viral” - content that is organically shared and commented and engaged with in overwhelming numbers - may not engage the audience as you’d hoped. All these referrals may be for naught if the viewers don’t click through to the website. Though the numbers look excellent, only your site analytics will determine the full measure of success.


Determining What Success Looks


What we want to see is a high goal conversion rate coupled with a large volume of social traffic. If your Google Analytics suggest many visitors were referred from social media to your website, your efforts are effective. If referrals are low, reevaluate your social media campaign strategy.


If your site receives high traffic but minimal conversions or a high bounce rate, there's a disconnect. The call-to-action isn't resonating with your audience. Time to try something new!


Google’s platform can foil the best-laid plans. When Analytics looks at the referring URL of the visit it tries to match it one of the domains they’ve assigned to a social media network. If the URL doesn’t match or you’ve shortened the link, Analytics won’t be able to attribute the action within its social Google Analytics reports. The attribution models can also skew cost, impressions, and more.


One way to correctly identify traffic sources is to use UTM parameters. Google offers a Campaign URL Builder where the following parameters can be appended to the URL for increased accuracy in tracking.


  • The campaign (your product/service) becomes utm_campaign.
  • The source (the brand) becomes utm_source.
  • The medium (the type of traffic) becomes utm_medium.
  • The term (the headline) becomes utm_term.
  • The content (the details) becomes utm_content.


Your appended link should look like this:


Bonus: when you use a link shortener to create a prettier URL, it keeps the UTM parameters intact!


To reap the rewards on UTM tracking, login to Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns. From there click to view the Primary Dimension of Campaign, Source, or Medium. Consider, also, combining UTM links and Google Goals to assign a dollar value to each new subscriber.

Using DashThis to Track Referrals, Conversions and Engagement in One Easy-to-Read Dashboard


If what gets measured gets managed, and profit is most definitely measured, regular Analytics reporting and evaluations are imperative. Using DashThis can simplify this complicated process and break down data into digestible chunks, one which any member of the business can understand.


DashThis will compile your analytics, across platforms and mediums, into one comprehensive dashboard. Therefore creating social reports, with data from all analytics and social media networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube etc.) Once created, the reporting software will even email you your report at your preferred time interval.


Rather than diving into analytics on each of the social media platforms, as well as Google Analytics to track site performance and audience behavior, we at 29 Design Studio create a “dashboard” within DashThis for each of our clients.


Seeing the comprehensive picture in one place allows us a fuller view of what works and what doesn’t. We’re able to see how engagement on a social profile reflects website traffic - or lack thereof. We can tell our clients which posts resonate so we can do more of that. We’re also able to demonstrate how paid activities reflect audience participation vs organic activity and whether the same holds true across different social platforms.


When our clients say they want to engage with their audience and to send customers back to the business’ website, we can show them with our DashThis reporting that easily shows how we’re making that happen.

Track your Google Analytics social media traffic & all your social networks data in the same report with DashThis.


Try it free!
Jennifer Gyuricska

Jennifer Gyuricska is a Digital Marketing Strategist at 29 Design Studio. She advises clients on digital marketing activities that leverage efficiencies and strategize a successful customer journey. 29 Design Studio is a branding and marketing studio in Upstate New York that provides strategic & creative brand management for national brands.

Ready to automate your reporting?

Start free trial

Read More

Follow us on social media to stay tuned!

Automate your reports!

Bring all your marketing data into one automated report.

Try dashthis for free
Digital Marketing reporting dashboard

Get Started Today!

Try DashThis

Made in Canada

DashThis is a brand owned by Moment Zero inc

Copyright © 2011-2024