Google Analytics tip: tracking social media for better analysis

We’ve talked about the benefits of working social media into both your website and email campaigns. With any luck, the two efforts will play off of each other, encouraging site visitors to sign up for emails and driving email recipients to your site. But how do you know if your social media efforts are having any effect?

SMGAReferrallSome important social metrics can’t be measured by Google Analytics, such as the number of comments on your blog posts, number of followers who are sharing your content or the number of followers who like your content. The Google Analytics platform, however, is a great place to look for information on the effects of social on your website. The easiest way for Google Analytics novices to see these effects is to look at referral traffic.

How can you find this information?

  1. Log into Google Analytics, making sure that you’re using the ‘new version’ (remember, the old one will be permanently phased out in January 2012).
  2. Click on the “Traffic Sources” option on the left-hand column.
  3. Select “Sources,” and then “Referrals” from the drop down menu.

By default, the main screen should then show a list of the top ten domains that refer visitors to your site.

If you look through them, you should be able to spot the big names like,, and Depending on your field, you might also look for industry-specific blogs, wikis, or message boards.


You can also search for a specific site by typing its name into the search bar located above list of sites.

Clicking on the names of any of these sites will allow you to see which specific webpages on your own site were visited by these followers.

What to look for

  • Visits: this data tells you the number of people that came from the social site to your own.
  • Bounce rate: defined as the percentage of visitors that only see one page during their site visit. If the number is high, it may indicate your visitors aren’t getting what they expect. You should take this stat into context, however, because if you are leading them to a blog post they may read the post and then leave your site.

GA-EcommerceThese stats are easily viewable on the default screen (“Site Usage”), but if you’d like to dig a bit deeper into actual revenue, you can click on the “E-commerce” heading located just above the graph.This new screen also contains some important stats, including:

  • Revenue: this information will help you to understand how much money was spent by visitors who came to your site via social.
  • E-commerce conversion rate: Similarly, the E-commerce Conversion Rate will tell you the percentage of visits that resulted in an e-commerce transaction for your site.

Google Analytics is a great tool for tracking many things: revenue, PPC campaign returns, and top content. However, it won’t give you the complete picture for social media. If you’re putting effort into running social campaigns, it is important to see the effect they have on your bottom line, but it is not the only way you should be measuring success.

Social media is a wonderful tool because it allows your followers to spread the word about your company. You should also be looking at what they do after you post something: any comments left, likes, shares AND how users interact with your website. When you look at the complete picture you’ll have a much easier time deciding whether your campaigns are dazzling or a dud. Good luck!