Looking for ways to measure your social media marketing campaign beyond just your growth in fans and number of social shares? Google Analytics offers three different ways to see if social media is leading to not only traffic to your website, but actual goal conversions which make a difference for your bottom line.

Setting Up Goals

Before you can see how social media leads to actual conversions, you need to setup Google Analytics to track goals. These goals can include anything from mailing list signups, lead form submissions, and shopping cart transactions. Google Analytics Help Center provides easy to follow instructions on how to set up goals.

The easiest goals set up type is URL destination – this is where you tell Google Analytics that a goal has been completed when a visitor lands on a particular page on your website. For example, you would set up the thank you page for a form submission or the final order confirmation page for a product purchase as a URL destination. For ecommerce websites, you can set up goal funnels that track all of the steps visitors take in your shopping cart process for more detailed reports.

If you don’t set up goals, you can still use the following Google Analytics tips to track visitors to your website from social media. Goals simply enable you to find out if the visitors from social media are becoming leads and leading to sales.

Social Media Reports

Google Analytics Social Reporting

The first part of Google Analytics you can use to determine the success of your social media marketing campaign is the social media reporting section under Traffic Sources. This section shows you the traffic that comes specifically from the top social networks that Google Analytics tracks, top landing pages for social traffic, and conversions from social network traffic.

The best part about social reporting in Google Analytics is that, unlike the next two options, it does not require any extra work. It automatically measures traffic referrals from social networks once you have installed the basic Google Analytics code on your website.

Advanced Segments

Google Analytics social reporting includes the main social networks, but depending on your business and industry, you may be using niche social networks that you want to track as well. This is where Advanced Segments comes in. Advanced Segments lets you set up specific criteria to filter your Google Analytics data by. You can set up an Advanced Segment to filter your data by traffic from the social networks of your choice.

Advanced segments google analytics

Once your Advanced Segment is set up, you can use it to view all of your Google Analytics data based on referral traffic from social networks you have specified. This can give you even more informative data beyond just the basic social reporting feature Google Analytics offers.

Google analytics advanced segment view

Some ways to break up your Advanced Segments (since you can only have 20 referral sites in each segment) is to create ones for general social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), image based social media (Pinterest, Flickr, etc.), video based social media (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), niche based social media (health networks, photography networks, etc.), and social bookmarking (StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, etc.).

UTM Parameters

The above two methods will help you see your visitors from social networks as a whole. If you are running specific campaigns, such as social advertising with Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you may want to know the traffic that comes from people specifically clicking those ad links. This is where UTM Parameters come in. They are simply tags that you add to a URL you are sharing. For example, if you have a Facebook advertisement for Winter 2013, you would use the following URL in your ad.


You can use Google’s free URL Builder tool to create your UTM Parameter URL’s quickly and easily.

When people click on this link from your Facebook ad, it will tell Google Analytics that the visitor is coming from Facebook through an ad for your Winter 2013 campaign. You would find this information under Traffic Sources > Sources > Campaigns.

Google analytics traffic sources campaigns

This can help you determine which social networks and ad campaigns bring you the most amount of traffic. You can also change to your goal view to see which ads lead to the most conversions on your website.

Google analytics traffic sources campaigns goals

All you need to do is keep track of your UTM Parameters so you are following the same format from campaign to campaign. A simple spreadsheet can help you do this, or you can look at your previous ad URL’s for reference.

Your Thoughts?

How do you measure your social media progress?  Which techniques do you use and which is the information you find most useful to evaluate social success? Please, share your thoughts in the 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.

1 comment
  1. A good way to track your social media using Google, but not analytics, is to set up a Google alert for the specific content you are posting on your social channels. If the content gets shared and posted on other sites, you’ll get an email alert to your inbox. Although this doesn’t provide concrete numbers like analytics can, it can give you an idea of what content was popular and what sites are picking them up.

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