Anyone working with a content strategy or marketing campaign plan has had to learn how to track social media traffic using Google Analytics.
As Dallas McLaughlin wrote in a blog back in 2016 for SimplyMeasured: “Most social marketers would agree that tying social media marketing to actual business results is a very difficult task.”
He wasn’t wrong. Although most social media platforms have their own inbuilt analytics, working out the true value of an individual social post when it comes to how much it contributes to your website activity and online sales can be a real slog.
We know because we’ve been there. One of our biggest frustrations when running a digital agency was the reporting of accurate and meaningful results back to our clients.
We needed in-depth social media analytics in order to feedback to our clients, and we were very frustrated that we couldn’t find an easy simple tool to help us do that when it came to demonstrating the effectiveness of our marketing campaign plan.

But There’s Google Analytics!

What about Google Analytics we hear you say?! Well yes, Google Analytics does give a lot of really detailed analysis about traffic. People use it because it gives insights into where website visitors come from and whether they engage with the content or leave immediately.
It also allows users to set up goals matching business targets and measures whether or not they are being achieved. Google Analytics is also free, which is an added bonus.
But it’s really complicated!

Finding Helpful Social Media Metrics

There’re dozens of metrics being recorded by Google Analytics. So one of the first things you have to work out is where you should be looking and which of those metrics you should be tracking.
Google Analytics graph
The most obvious, and the ones usually associated with social media traffic statistics are the following:

  1. Traffic by social channel – this gives you information on your most valuable social media platforms and allows you to identify changes
  2. Social media traffic – identifies all social network traffic so you can compare with email or other forms of digital marketing
  3. Landing Pages – easily identify which dedicated pages are most shared on social media
  4. Multi-Channel Reports – highlights  the type of traffic you’re getting, is it organic or from paid campaigns for example
  5. UTM campaign results – what happens when you use an additional UTM parameter on a web address so you can identify the source i.e. /?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=socialmedia

Now when you’re tracking any of these, there’re also a few other steps you have to take. You need to make sure you’re filtering out your own internal traffic (and that from your mum and other friends – unless, of course, they’re going to be signing up for whatever you’re offering!).
You also need to set up blacklists to get rid of any referrals from dodgy sites (and they seem to be increasing on a daily basis) and look at methods of filtering out bot referrals.
Google Analytics also offers the option of setting up a Segment specifically for your social media channels. It involves filters and conditions and sources and lots of other technical steps to go through before it will begin to measure the metrics you want though.

Google Analytics’ Behavior report only creates a collective view of all your traffic sources,  broken down into direct, organic and referral traffic. To get any more depth, you have to go back to those Segments we referred to earlier.

  • Step 1 Create a Segment: Acquisition » Overview » +Add Segment » +New Segment
  • Step 2 Configure Your Segment: (Name the segment) » Conditions » Filter/Ad Content Menu/Page Title » Add URL to Track » (Save the segment) » Acquisition » Overview (again) » Search Segment » Apply
  • Step 3 View Your Segment

So, while Google Analytics may be free, it can be overwhelming if you’re just starting out on your social media tracking journey.

Beacon Makes Life Easier!

Beacon is our web analytics platform. Built to shed light onto the real value of your campaign activity and digital media strategy, we built Beacon to provide web analytics to easily give a true insight into what happens when a visitor lands on your website.
And to make working out if your marketing campaign plan is being effective a whole lot easier!

New Beacon Dashboard

New Beacon Dashboard

We use next-generation analytics technology to deliver a clear and attributable return on your social media marketing investment and allows you to see how social media users behave once they reach your website.
Unlike much of the social analysis tools available, which primarily report on follower counts, likes and shares, and other vanity metrics, Beacon focuses on the impact social media has on your website.
Google Analytics is good at showing you overall traffic and referrals from social platforms or channels as a whole, but only Beacon gives you the ability to instantly drill down into the results of an individual link that is shared in a social post, and report on website traffic generated from it.
Beacon reports the whole visitor journey, clearly showing each visitors’ actions on a page – allowing you to easily attribute conversions and sales to individual marketing links without needing to set goals and piece various bits of data together.
So, use Beacon alongside your Google Analytics to get even deeper social marketing insights – quicker!