Google Analytics Advanced Segments for Measuring Social Media [samples]

Previously, we discussed the three ways to measure social media using Google Analytics. Out of the three methods, Advanced Segments are a personal favorite because they allow you to view any of your Google Analytics data based on traffic from social media referral sites. In this post, we’re going to look at exactly how to create Advanced Segments in Google Analytics and specific segments you can create to measure different types of social media.

How to Create Advanced Segments in Google Analytics

Creating Advanced Segments in Google Analytics is easy! Simply go to your website’s dashboard in Google Analytics and click on Advanced Segments. Then click on the +New Custom Segment.

How to create advanced segments in Google analytics

First you will give your Advanced Segment a name. For segments measuring social media referral traffic, you will select Include > Source > Containing. Then you will enter the domain of the social media network you want to measure.Google Analytics segments for social media

Once you have entered your social networks, you can use the Test or Preview Segment buttons to make sure you have configured it correctly to filter data. Then you can click Save to save it to your list of Custom Segments. To view your segment later, click on Advanced Segment, check the box next to the segment you want to view, and click Apply. You can view up to three segments at a time to compare data.

Organizing Social Networks for Advanced Segments

You can enter up to 20 domains / social networks in each Advanced Segment. This means that if you want to measure more than 20 social networks, you will need to think of a way to categorize them. To determine your social network groupings, just answer these questions.

  • Do you want to view certain social networks’ data as a collection? 
  • Do you want to compare one set of social media networks to another? 
  • Do you want to separate networks you spend a lot of time on vs. networks you only work with occasionally?

Answering these should help you determine the best way to organize your social networks into segments.

Sample Advanced Segments

The following are some examples of Advanced Segments you can setup to measure specific types of social networks. You can pick and choose the ones that work best for your website, or combine a few sites from each into one. Remember to set each of the set each of these up using the Include > Source > Containing configuration with the following domains.

Main Social Networks

This segment should include the main social networks you focus upon. For most websites, this is Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. These networks can appear in Google Analytics in multiple ways.

  • Twitter: twitter.com, t.co, twittergadget.com, mobile.twitter.com, and api.twitter.com
  • Facebook: facebook.com and m.facebook.com
  • Google+: plus.google.com and plus.url.google.com
  • LinkedIn: linkedin.com

You will also have to decide how to handle HootSuite (hootsuite.com). People use it as a social media management tool primarily for Twitter, but they can also use it for Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and a few other networks. You may or may not want to include it as a part of your main social networks segment.

Social Bookmarking & Voting Networks

This segment includes sites where people have bookmarked a page on your website for future reference. Many will count bookmarks as votes – the more votes your page gets, the more likely it is to be featured on the homepage of the network, thus receiving lots of traffic.

  • stumbleupon.com
  • delicious.com
  • digg.com
  • reddit.com
  • diigo.com
  • news.ycombinator.com (Hackers News)
  • bizsugar.com
  • blogengage.com

Image Based Social Networks

This segment includes social networks where the main focus is sharing images.

  • flickr.com
  • pinterest.com

Video Based Social Networks

This segment includes social networks where the main focus is sharing video.

  • youtube.com
  • vimeo.com
  • dailymotion.com
  • revver.com
  • metacafe.com

This segment will only show results if you are actively uploading videos to specific networks.

Q&A Networks

This segment includes social networks where the main focus is asking and answering questions from other users.

  • quora.com
  • answers.yahoo.com
  • stackoverflow.com

Social Newspapers

This segment includes social networks where people share stories from others social networks (primarily Twitter) in the form of a social newspaper.

  • scoop.it
  • paper.li
  • instapaper.com
  • feedly.com

Niche Social Networks

This segment includes social networks geared for a particular interest or industry. This one will vary based on the industry you are in. For example, photography niche networks include:

  • flickr.com
  • 500px.com
  • 1x.com
  • pinterest.com

You can find more niche social networks on KnowEm or within your own Google Analytics data as discussed in the next section.

Discovering Social Networks Driving Traffic to Your Website

The above example segments do not include every social network out there. Your best bet to make sure you capture all of the social networks that drive traffic to your website is to go into your own Google Analytics, look at the last year’s worth of Referral Traffic under Traffic Sources, and examine the sites sending traffic to your website. Chances are you will discover additional social networks. You can also find new social networks on sites like KnowEm.

You will also want to do this check of your referral traffic periodically as some networks change the structure of their URLs that will change the source domain you specified within your segments. Plus you may find new social networks referring traffic to your website that you will want to examine more in depth.

What You Will Learn with Advanced Segments

Advanced Segments for social media will allow you to view all of your Google Analytics data based on traffic from your specified segments. For example, you could compare traffic from your main social networks to traffic from social bookmarking networks.Advanced segments report

This kind of view throughout your Google Analytics can help you easily determine whether you should just focus your efforts on the main social media sites vs. niche sites, image based sites vs. video based sites, or other groupings. It is crucial to know this to make sure you are investing in a social media strategy that will give you a strong return on investment.

I’m looking forward to your thoughts and comments!

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    What I like about the “Social Bookmarking & Voting Networks” segment is your ability to track which social bookmarking efforts are having an impact on your site’s SEO, and which ones aren’t. Although submitting your content to social bookmarking sites isn’t necessarily hard to do, if you have multiple platforms you are submitting to, it can be time consuming. Tracking your efforts in Analytics can help you better focus the time you spend social bookmarking.

    • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

      Exactly. Some networks really aren’t worth it once you start tracking them, and surprising ones really tend to send over the visits.