Measure Social Media Marketing: Learn the Best Way to Track Social Media Traffic in Google Analytics

A growing number of savvy marketers are dabbling in social media and gaining followers by connecting with customers and creating conversations. But tracking social media, and quantifying its value can be tricky. How you measure success really depends on your own goals. Companies like Cymfony, Radian6, and Nielsen have social media monitoring tools to help you get the most out of your social media programs. But these tools cost money – sometimes a lot of it.

Did you know a free tool you’re probably already using can do the trick?

Google Analytics is an excellent tool to monitor your web traffic. It’s easy to set-up and you’ll get valuable information. You’ll get insightful information on where your traffic is coming from, what people are doing when they get to your site, what keeps people there and what makes people leave. Best of all? It’s free. If you’re not using this tool, we suggest you start right away.

If you have general knowledge of Google Analytics, you likely already know how to pull reports showing how much traffic Facebook is driving to your website. This is basic. But what if you wanted an executive-level view of how your social media efforts collectively are moving your business forward? What if you wanted to know whether the time and resources you’re allocating to managing social campaigns is having a positive effect not only on helping you get noticed, but in driving revenue?

The best way to track social media traffic in Google Analytics is by creating a custom segment. This view provides a comprehensive dashboard likes on instagram of all traffic across all your social media channels. Google calls this an Advanced Segment. It’s an advanced feature but we’ll make it simple by outlining the steps below.

  1. First, drop the pull-down menu titled “All Visits”.
  2. Click “Create a new advanced segment” link.
  3. Click “Traffic Sources” under the “Dimensions” tab. Drag the “Source” bar over. Set the condition to “Contains”. And in the “Value” field type “facebook”.
  4. Repeat this third step for “Twitter”, “LinkedIn”, “YouTube”, “Flickr”, and other social sites. You’ll want to add social networks, URL shorteners (,,, social media dashboards (HootSuite, twitterfeed, etc), and bookmarking and sharing services (Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Digg, etc). Also include iterations such as “”, “tweet”, and “”. At this stage, it is helpful to run a report showing your top 500 or so traffic sources and look for any social sites you may have missed. If you’re not sure if a site is a social network, take a look at Wikipedia’s gigantic list of two-hundred plus social sites.
  5. The last step is to name your custom segment and save it. Call is something like “Social Media Sites”.

To run your report, go to the Advanced Segments drop-down menu and select “Social Media Sites”. Now, run your reports like you ordinarily would, this time choosing your new segment. You’ll now be able to run custom reports.

A few questions to examine:

  • Which social networks generate the most conversions? If you have goals and funnels set up in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see conversion rates and monetary value of the traffic you’re receiving.
  • Which social networks are bringing in people who stay the longest and view the most pages? These may be some of your best prospects. Consider putting more of your time and energy in using this network.
  • To what extent does your social traffic correlate with your search traffic? An increase in search traffic can be a result of more social activity – the more people are hearing about you on the social web, they get to know you, and then do a search to find out even more about you. A strong social media presence can build a company’s influence and reach.

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