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Google Analytics for Social Media

Google Analytics for Social Media is an analysis tool designed to help you define, manage, and measure the success of your social media engagement. With an emphasis on the performance aspect of social media measurement, the platform helps you track and analyze conversions, leads, and other actionable data that you can use on a daily basis to make decisions with better insight.

Google Analytics for Social Media helps track and measure your social media efforts and enables you to easily monitor performance on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, LinkedIn, and more. With a free customizable dashboard and in-depth insights, you can help your deeper engagement and social reach. 

Automatically tracking social media with Google Analytics

The first thing to grasp when it comes to tracking social media is what is (and isn’t) monitored by default in Google Analytics.

Let us begin with a basic example…

Assume someone visits your website via Twitter (you could substitute Twitter with your social network of choice if you like, so this could just as easily be Facebook, LinkedIn or another social network).

When someone sees a Tweet with a link to your website, they click the link and are directed to your website. So, how will this user that visits your website appear in your reports? Since Twitter is a website that now links to your website, they will be regarded as a referral by default.

Each click through to your website has a source and a medium associated with it. If you’re just getting started with Google Analytics, then source refers to ’where the message is seen’ and medium refers to ’how the message is communicated’. For Twitter you will have a source of twitter․com or t․co (which is Twitter’s own URL shortener) and since this is really a link from another website, the medium will be seen as a referral.

If you head to your Google Analytics account you will find the ’Source / Medium’ report within the Acquisition section. Here’s what we’d find:

Remember that your social media sessions will automatically show up in a number of different Acquisition reports. Here you can see those reports highlighted:

Tracking paid social media campaigns

Now that we’ve looked at the default or automatic reporting, let’s move on to paid social media advertising.

If you’re going to spend on paid ads, you need to be sure you’re tracking and measuring them correctly. This is accomplished through the use of campaign tags, which enable you to track your customized marketing campaigns, which include social media and any other inbound marketing.

All the links in your paid ads on social media need to be customized so they include suitable campaign tags. Campaign tags include the following:

  • Campaign name allows you to define the whole marketing campaign. For example, for Facebook advertising, you might simply call the campaign Facebook Ads, or for a time-sensitive campaign, you could call it Spring Promotion or something similar. It’s worth noting that how you name your campaign is entirely up to you, so go with what you want to see in your reports. If you’re undecided, my advice is to go with something logical and easy to interpret.
  • Campaign source and medium are just like the default source and medium we covered earlier in the post. Remember that source is where the message is seen and medium is how the message is communicated.
  • Campaign content is optional, however it can be useful to identify clicks from different ads if you have multiple ads running on a social network. For example, if you have an ad with a ’Register Now’ button and another with a ’Learn More’ button, you can use the content tag to separate the results from each ad in your Google Analytics reports.

If you’re interested in using campaign tags for your other marketing, then read my in-depth post on correctly tracking campaigns with Google Analytics.

You can use the Google Analytics URL Builder to create your campaign tags:

This tool allows you to enter the values for the campaign name, source, medium and content. Here’s an example for an ad on Facebook:

You need to enter the URL that people are going to click through to from the ad, along with the campaign tags we’ve covered. This will then create a long URL like this one:

This is the URL that we now use as the destination URL for our ad. When people click on the link they will be taken to the page we defined and the value for each tag will become available in our reports.

Heading to our reports, we will see the following for the people who have clicked through from our ad:

This allows us to see the number of users coming from the ad. The example also includes ecommerce data, allowing us to understand how successful our ads are at driving revenue. I’ve used ecommerce in this example, but this could just as easily be any goal you’ve configured for non-ecommerce actions taking place on your website.

The 5 Most Meaningful Google Analytics Reports for Social Media Marketers

1. Traffic by social channel

See your most valuable networks, plus the up-and-comers

Buffer Social Network Referrals

Where to find this report:

Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals

What this report tells you:

At-a-glance, you can see which social network sends you the most visits to your website. For instance, Twitter sent the Buffer blog 79,096 visitors last month.

You can view the data in a pie chart to see how the networks break down as an overall percentage of social traffic to your site. For instance, Twitter accounted for 56 percent of social traffic to the Buffer blog. Twitter and Facebook combined accounted for 81 percent.

You can expand the results to show 25 or 50 channels, then change the date range to include a comparison to last period. Voila! Now you can identify networks beyond your main ones that are beginning to send you more and more traffic. For the Buffer blog, we’ve noticed StumbleUpon and Hacker News seem to be on the rise.


If you click on the individual network name in this report, you can see a breakdown of all the links of yours that have been shared on that network.

Tumblr shares of Buffer blog posts

2. Social media traffic

See how much social media contributes to your overall visits

All traffic channels to the Buffer blog

Where to find this report:

Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels

What this report tells you:

You can see your traffic sources at a high-level:

  1. Organic search (people clicking through from Google)
  2. Social (Twitter, Facebook, social visits)
  3. Direct (people typing your site in their browser or bookmarks)
  4. Referral (people clicking links from other sites to get to you)
  5. Email
  6. Paid search
  7. Other

With this info, you get a great sense of the importance of social media for bringing people to your site. If you ever need justification for focusing on social media, this report is it!

For the Buffer blog, we see 15 percent of our traffic from social, which accounts for nearly 150,000 visits each month.


Under the Acquisition > All Traffic category, you can click to view the Source/Medium, which will show you a granular break down of the search, social, and referral traffic. For a quick hack into your mobile vs. desktop traffic, look at how each social network URL is abbreviated. Twitter on mobile is represented by, and desktop is Facebook on mobile is represented by, and desktop is

In addition, to see the mobile vs. desktop traffic breakdown, you can add a Secondary Dimension to any view (by clicking the Secondary Dimension button at the top of any table). Type in “Mobile” and select “Mobile (Including Tablet).”

3. Landing pages

Landing Pages report for Buffer blog

Where to find this report:

Acquisition > Social > Landing Pages

What this report tells you:

Use this report to see your website pages that get shared most often on social media. For the Buffer blog in the past 30 days, our most-shared story is Andrianes Pinantoan’s guest post about Canva’s growth strategy.


You can click any link in this report to see the specific breakdown of networks where this content was shared.

4. Multi-channel reports

Multi-channel Funnel for the Buffer blog

Where to find this report:

Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Overview

This report will work if you’ve got Goals set up for your website. (See below.)

What this report tells you:

The Venn diagram you’ll get on this report page shows the various paths that people take to convert through your website or blog. For example, on the Buffer blog, a good majority of people convert after coming to the site from organic search. A smaller—but still significant—portion convert after coming directly or clicking on a link from social media.

The overlap in the Venn diagrams represent visitors who might, for instance, click a link in a tweet first, then come back to the site directly later on to go through the conversion flow. And Google Analytics tracks all this, all the way through!


Further down into the Multi-Channel Funnels, there are some neat reports:

  1. Top Conversion Paths
  2. Time Lag
  3. Page Length

For Top Conversion Paths, you can see the frequency with which visitors take certain routes to conversion. For instance, I can see in my report that the most common path is a person visiting my site directly two times before converting. The top social path is a visit or two from social first, then a direct visit.BROUGHT TO YOU BY

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You can change the view here also by clicking on “Source/Medium Path” at the top of the chart to see the specific social networks involved in the conversion flow.

Top Conversion Paths for the Buffer blog

For Time Lag, you can see how many days come between first visit and conversion.

For Path Length, you can see a breakdown of how many paths are involved in each conversion typically. For my blog, the vast majority (75%) convert after one visit.

5. UTM campaign results

UTM campaign referrers for the Buffer blog

Where to find this report:

Acquisition > Campaigns

What this report tells you:

If you’re running a social media campaign, you can append the URLs you’re sharing with a UTM parameter, a bit of text that goes at the end of your link. Google’s free URL Builder is perhaps the simplest way to set these up.


Google Analytics for Social Media breaks down the data behind your social media success. At a glance, measure across all social media platforms, in one central location. Find out who, what and where your biggest fans are, and adjust your strategy to maximize their impact, right inside the dashboards you know and love

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