How To Set Up Google Analytics for Social Media Monitoring

First it was MySpace, then it was Facebook, now everyone is flocking to Pinterest.

Let’s face it – when the shine wears off on one social media site, there is always another one ready to step in and replace it. Whether your business just started using social media, or has been active for a while, you need to make sure you’re monitoring the activity on all of your social media platforms to see if it’s helping to drive your business goals.

Google’s Social Reports is a feature built into all standard Google Analytics accounts, and provides tools so you can:

  • Measure conversions that resulted from a social network
  • Understand how users from social networks are engaging with your content
  • See what items on your website are shared the most

There are lots of visually appealing graphs, charts, and reports available and you can find these tools in the Standard Reporting tab under Traffic Sources > Social.

Now for the bad news.

While several social media networks including Google+ (go figure), Digg, and Reddit have partnered with Google to share their data, the major social networking sites that many businesses actually use like Facebook and Twitter haven’t signed up to partner with Google. Instead of Pinterest and LinkedIn, the partners include such social network heavy hitters like Hatena (who?) SodaHead (what?), and Echo (huh?).GA social integrationDespite the extremely weak pool of sites willing to play nice and share data, let’s see what insights are revealed:

Activity Stream: This feature allows you to view (in real time) the social pages where your company is being discussed. You can view the page of your site that is being talked about or the page of the social network where the conversation is occurring. But again, without Facebook or Twitter data, how much do you really care?

Conversions: Sometimes it’s hard to put a numeric value to the ROI of social media. How do you know if it’s working? Google has integrated your Google Analytics Goals into their Social Reporting tool, so as long as you properly set up goals for leads and contact us forms, you’ll be able to review how social networks, as a source, are helping you achieve those goals.

Social Visitors Flow: The visitor flow graph represents the paths that visitors took as they navigated through your website. It shows the path from the social media source, through the various pages of content, and lets you know where visitors exited your site. It allows you to see which social networks are sending the most visitors to your site and where they go once they get there.

Google Analytics Social Visitors Flow

Google Analytics Social Visitors Flow

Plug ins: Finally! Something that works with Facebook! A great way to gain visitors to your site from social networks is by adding social plug ins to your website. These buttons allow your visitors to share your website content on their personal social networks with those little “Like Us” and “+” icons. This information can be used in various ways to improve overall conversion on your site or even to help you determine which social network would be best for a targeted advertising campaign.

For example, say you’re a university and you’re trying to determine which topic to focus your next round of Facebook ads around. If the engineering pages are being shared the most, that major would be a good candidate to invest some advertisements dollars on.

If you’re interested in learning how to install social plugins on your site, stay tuned for a future blog post where we will go through the steps!

While Google Analytics has largely missed the mark with social integration so far due to its lack of integration from the relevant social networks, there is always a chance additional social networks join the mix (AKA get acquired by Google) which would make the majority of these reports much more meaningful.

Special thanks to Jenna Sabarini for helping pull together information for this post.



Certified in both Google AdWords and Analytics, Jon has a passion for all things web and shares that experience here on the blog. You’ll find him frequently talking e-commerce, digital strategy, pay-per-click, and more.

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