How To Track Social Media Traffic With Google Analytics

June 24th, 2009 |

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One of the more difficult things to do in social media is to track the effectiveness of the campaign.  Measuring the profitability of a social media campaign is even more difficult.  However, measuring your social media traffic using Google Analytics is not difficult at all.  Below, we will cover the steps needed to take to effectively track your social media traffic.

Getting Setup in Google Analytics

Google anayltics is tough to beat when it comes to tracking website traffic and goals.  Setting up your analytics account to measure social media traffic is actually pretty easy.

First, you will need to login to your analytics account.  Once logged in, look in the left hand column under “Settings”.  Click on the “Advanced Segments” link.  On the following page, in the top right, click where it says “Create New Custom Segment”.

Track Individually or Track Them All!

There are two ways you can go about tracking social media traffic.  You can decide to use one method or the other, or even use them both.  The first method we will cover is how to track an individual site.

To track an individual site, on the “Create New Custom Segment”, simply follow these steps.

  1. Under the “Dimensions” column on the left, click “Traffic Sources” and then click and drag the “Source” box into the box to the right that says “dimension or metric”.
  2. Then from the drop down menu that appears for “Condition”, select “Matches Regular Expression”.
  3. In the “Value” box, simply type in the site you wish to track.  For example, if you wanted to track Twitter traffic, you would type this in:

twitter.com

Please note that you have to place a “” before the .com in the value box.  Be sure to name your segment and then create it.

Now if you want to track multiple sites in one custom segment, simply follow the steps outlined above.  However, when you get to step 3 you will need to enter the following into the “Value” box depending on what sites you want to track.

twitter.com|myspace.com|linkedin.com|facebook.com

To add more domains, simply add a “|” pipe symbol between each name you wish to use.  Then name and save your custom segment.

Using Your Custom Segment to Display Social Media Traffic

Now that you have created your custom segments, it is time to put it to work.  From your dashboard page, in the top right, click on the “Advanced Segments: All Visits” button to display your custom segment choices.  Then check off the box for the social media traffic custom segment you created and apply the changes.

advancedsegments

The traffic chart will then update to display your social media traffic in comparison to your total traffic.  Your site usage stats and content overview stats will also be updated with numbers from your social media traffic sources.

With Google Analytics, you can get pretty in depth results using the various filters and components in which they have to offer.  However, this method will easily show you the social media traffic sources in relation to your overall site traffic.

Are you already using this method to track social media traffic?  If so, what tweaks have you made to your Google Analytics account to get the traffic measurements you desire?

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  • http://aaronhughling.com Aaron Hughling

    What exactly does the “\” do in creating that expression?

    What is the advantage of creating that expression rather then just selecting “contains” and something like “twitter.com”?

    Thanks, this is a great reference!

  • http://www.tomsanalytics.com Tom Miller

    Also, if you are using Google Analytics, make sure you tag your incoming links if you are posting them anywhere on the web. This allows you to get more precise perspective on your incoming traffic.

    URL Builder Tool:
    http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55578

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  • http://drawne.com Andy Feliciotti

    Awesome tip, thanks!

  • lenny

    My understanding of the tracking problem with social media is not that GA cannot track referrals coming from web-based social media sources (it can as described in the post above), but that is cannot track social media visits coming from non-web based sources. For example, if someone uses an application such as Tweetdeck and clicks on a Facebook posting containing a link to a website, GA does not receive any referring information and therefore records the visit as a direct visit and not a visit that originated from Facebook. Same would apply to a LinkedIn link or a Twitter link.

    • SocialBleedia

      You can use link tagging as described in this how to blog post to track all inbound links no matter where they are coming from http://socialbleedia.com/post/

  • http://landseo.ru landseo

    ok! this wery nice post.

  • Mikelowrey3

    Doesn't GA track individual social media traffic through the traffic source tab anyway?? Or am I missing something… Why would you need to create these? Sorry for the grand inquisition :(

  • http://www.virtualsocialmedia.com/social-media-marketing-optimization-services/social-media-pricing/ Social Media Cost | Rate

    This tip will really enhance to trace the traffic stats.

  • http://www.virtualsocialmedia.com/social-media-marketing-optimization-services/social-media-pricing/ Social Media Cost | Rate

    This tip will really enhance to trace the traffic stats.

  • http://twitter.com/G0utham G0utham

    It's a nice share. :)

  • http://twitter.com/CodyBhart Cody Barnhart

    Great post on how to track general inbound social media traffic. I did a similar write up on tracking social media traffic using link editing tools with google analytics. Link editing is helpful to track more specific campaigns within a social media platform. http://socialbleedia.com/post/