Google Analytics is an invaluable tool for understanding where your traffic is coming from and how your visitors are interacting with your site. At this point there is no denying the power and reach of social media, and in recognizing this, Google has made great strides over the last two years in incorporating a more robust platform for specifically tracking social media traffic.

It’s now easier to identify the social media sites that send the most visitors to your site and also see which ones need more attention. This allows you to dig deeper and learn more about the visitors who come to your site from Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or other social media sites. Furthermore, using the Advanced Segments tool allows you to segment your social media traffic by site and see how those groups of visitors actually once on your site. Pretty powerful stuff.

The Social Media Custom Report in Google Analytics

We’ve discussed in previous posts the influence social media has on SEO. Taking it a step further, now you can leverage your social media data to improve campaigns and goals. This powerful reporting tool looks at all referring traffic from a variety of top social sources. By applying this filter, you can look at which social traffic is most engaged with your content.

The Social Media Report looks at:

  • Visits
  • Social Actions
  • Goal Completions
  • Goal Conversion Rate
  • Goal Value

Tracking social actions gives you actionable insight into what content of yours is being shared the most. Once you figure out why your audience likes this content so much, hopefully you will be able to duplicate the results in the future. Also, finding out which social media site is converting the best will help determine if you should be increasing your participation on that social network, or even start experimenting with advertising on that network.

Creating Advanced Segment for Social Media Traffic

A good example of how to accomplish this is to set up an Advanced Segment for Twitter, which is probably one of the most, if not the most important referral source for social media traffic to your site. Though it may seem like a chore, this is an important step because so many different Twitter clients show up differently in your Analytics.

  • Click on Advanced Segments from any Google Analytics report and click +New Custom Segment
  • Name your segment and start to include as sources terms that send traffic to your website. For Twitter, specifically, this may include: twitter.com, t.co, hootsuite, tweetdeck, bit.ly
  • Notice that while adding these filters, GA will insert them using an autocomplete function if you have traffic that matches. This lets you know that all the filters you apply actually match visits.

Here’s an example of what your segments may look like:

Web Analytics - Twitter Advanced Segments

Once you add all your filters, press the Test Segment button to see if everything is set up correctly. If so, save your segment. It’s that easy, and it works for all other sources referring social media traffic to your site (i.e. Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc). This is also a great way to gain a more comprehensive view of traffic from more than one outlet:

Web Analytics - Social Media Advanced Segments

By combining the power of the new and improved social media capabilities within Custom Reporting and Advanced Segments on Google Analytics, you should begin reaping the benefits of deeper insight into your visitors in no time. Not only will you gain more data on how to optimize your own website, but you can extent that power to your efforts on other referring sites and fine-tune your branding across the social media sphere.