The eternal problem: How to measure the results of your communications activities. Social media campaigns are great (very powerful segmentation, flexibility, affordable, with different formats…), but measuring real impact on the web and on mobile devices, and on business overall, can be a real nightmare. If there’s one thing your boss needs it’s reliable and measurable ROI data. If you’re one of the many who have this problem, don’t despair. Right now we’re going to teach you the basics (and not only the basics) you need to obtain reports on your activities on social media for your website.
And, how are we going to do it? With Google Analytics. We’re going with what works and is free!
In this article you’ll learn…
1. Set up a Google Analytics account
Before getting stuck into the “social” aspect we need to go through the basics (just in case). Nothing should be taken for granted, so whether you’re already using Analytics or not, we’re going to start at the beginning.
This is basic and essential for beginners. You have several alternatives:
- If you don’t have a Google account just go to https://www.google.com/analytics/ and follow the instructions to set one up.
- If you have a Google account, just log in.
- If your usual email is not Google and you want to link it to Google Analytics, follow this link: https://accounts.google.com/SignUpWithoutGmail
2. Enter the correct tracking code on your website
Something just as obvious, but this time not as intuitive. I recommend you download this free guide from our website that gives step-by-step instructions on how to do it. You’ll also find very useful tips on how to use Google Analytics (for social media and beyond). In fact, we all use it daily here at Augure.
3. Set Goals
So here’s the good stuff. Google Analytics (GA) offers an automatic way of presenting gross metrics such as number of user sessions, bounce rates, average browsing time, etc. But we’re really interested in seeing ROI for social media activities. To this end it offers us the possibility of setting objectives or goals, such as the number of leads, downloads, newsletter subscriptions etc.
4. Create segments
Google Analytics provides rich information of traffic generated on social media. We can find it in Acquisition > Social
Google Analytics Social reports include information on all social networks. Depending on your business, you may want to filter data by social network, or using demographic data, to carry out remarketing or by users who have made a conversion and those that haven’t, etc. That’s what segments are for.
To add segments go to: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/3123906?hl=en
You can set up different segments with different parameters and compare them. You are limited to 1,000 segments per account and 100 segments per visit. You’ll be sure to think of many more so don’t worry.
5. UTM labels
Imagine you have an event coming up and that you want to promote it on social media. It would be interesting to measure the performance of the campaign for each social network. Wouldn’t it? Well, voilà, here’s where UTM labels come in! They enable us to separate the campaigns that we launch and, in the case of social media, to distinguish social traffic generated by our activities from posts of other users on social media.
These labels are simply added to the URL of the pages you are sharing. All those clicking on them will be registered under the parameters specified for the URL.
There are several ways of adding UTM labels but the main ones are:
- The simplest option is using Google’s URL Creator (you can check this great explanatory guide by Prateek Agarwal)
- Content (optional): this field is used to differentiate two different actions within one campaign. We can also add them manually: with this example URL (www.example.com/landing1/)
To add the UTM labels, all you have to do is add a “?” and then add parameters joined with a “&”. Here’s how it looks with our example URL:
www.example.com/landing1/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=promo_evento Here we can see the different parameters available to us:
- Source (obligatory): the website where the traffic comes from. For social networks the name of the social network should be added.
- Medium (obligatory): the medium where the traffic comes from. In this case it’s Facebook. If, for example, we were talking about an Adwords campaign we’d enter “Google” as the medium. We don’t recommend changing the names of mediums because it entails the risk of dividing the data and muddying the information we receive.
- Campaign (obligatory): the name we want to give the activity. In this case we’ve called it promo_evento and that’s how it will appear in Analytics.
- Term (optional): this stores the term or keyword which appears to users in our ad. Analytics enters this word automatically for organic searches. When using PPC this word needs to be entered manually.
I don’t want to bang on, but our guide also includes a Google doc by Lunametrics that as well as enabling very simple label management, shows you how to shorten them using a Bit.ly account.
Google Analytics monitors many user activities by default, but there are others you may be interested in measuring. By creating events you can measure any action that users carry out by clicking, that’s to say interactive actions. We can measure clicks on links, social media icons, downloads, playing videos ect.
To install them go to http://gaconfig.com/google-analytics-event-tracking/
Enter the parameters you are asked for and you will be given a code. This code can be entered in your website’s html code. We recommend to avoid having to ask the IT department is to do so using Google Tag Manager, that is simple to use.
In any case, to install specific events for social media I recommend you go to: https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/gajs/gaTrackingSocial
7. Social interaction
This enables you to track the interaction of users with the social media buttons on your website. I’m assuming you’re doing it already, but if that’s not the case… What are you waiting for!
Google Analytics tracks the +1s on Google+ by default, but not “Likes” on Facebook or “followers” on Twitter for example. In order to add these actions to your metric on Google Analytics you have to go here: https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/gajs/gaTrackingSocial and follow the instructions.
It’s important to have the buttons installed, because they will considerably increase social interaction and it’s important to measure this to know which social network is working best and what type of content is most popular with your audience.
8. Social reports
Now, after separating and organizing everything, comes the time to obtain specific information on the social aspects. These reports are going to help you show your boss that you are generating as many communications activities as the sales team 😉 In the Acquisition > Social section we can find eight sub-sections that will give us all the information we need on social metrics.
Overview: This shows the different conversions and features a table of total sessions from different social networks. For it to be effective it is necessary to set goals before hand. In fact, if you don’t set them you will not get any information.
It also allows you to see, at a glance, the value of the conversion generated through social media compared to all other conversions. “Last Interaction Social Conversions” are those interactions that lead to a conversion directly form a social referral.
“Contributed Social Conversions” are those in which users interact from a social referral and do not generate a conversion at the time, but later come back and make a conversion. A bit like the difference between a goal and an assist in football. In addition to this, it gives you a list of social networks by session.
This tab is very useful to see, at a glance, how social is contributing to conversions, which networks are bringing more traffic, as well as seeing which networks we are not interacting with. It’s possible you’ll see that you are investing a lot of effort in a network that doesn’t bring the traffic it should and another that you’re not really paying attention to is bringing you more traffic than expected.
Although communications professionals are not only concerned with traffic… as we explain in the following point.
Network referrals: This tab compares sessions with referred social traffic and total traffic. It also compares sessions by network, number of page views, average duration and pages/session.
It’s useful to see the quality of social network traffic. It’s important to take into account traffic quality and not just volume. Imagine, for example, that Twitter is bringing you lots of traffic, but with a very high bounce rate and a low average duration and that Facebook brings you less traffic, but with better metrics. The quality of Facebook traffic in this case would be better.
Data Hub Activity: this section and the following one are very new and still need improvement, but the idea is very good and it will make a valuable contribution to the information we have available. This report shows people’s interaction with your website from social media, showing you which URLs are being shared, comments made, where and how they are shared… this list can also be filtered by social network.
This enables you to have all your interactions from the different social networks in one window: comments, likes, +1, etc. You can manage all your social networks and use qualitative data for each action in each network without needing other tools, compiling one sole report. It’ll be wonderful… BUT right now you can only get information from the networks associated with Google. The following:
This evidently will not be truly useful until such time as at least Facebook and Twitter join Google. Until then we can view this as a preview of things to come.
Landing pages: this shows the metrics based on landing page URLs. It shows sessions, number of page views, average session duration and pages per session.
It also enables you to identify the most viral content by clicking on the “Data Hub Activity”. The results will be shown on a table listing URLs in order of virality. By clicking on any of them you’ll be able see the social network where the URL comes from. This is very useful for knowing how the landing pages are working, comparing them and understanding how each social network works for a particular landing page.
It’s extremely useful to be able to see the impact of your content on your website and elsewhere and be able to filter by social network. However, to be able to know what actions have been taken on each social network and seeing it all one a single report would be great. Google knows this, but once again, this will be truly useful when Google has more associates, and particularly the important social networks.
Trackback: this is a very interesting metric, it shows websites that link to yours, the landing pages they link to and how much traffic is generated by this specific link to your website. This makes opportunities for collaboration and link building easy 😉
* I don’t really see the difference between this parameter and referral traffic. Referral traffic also displays those websites linking to yours.
This section offers two types of information with something in common, both the linked pages and those they link to are blog posts. But even taking that into account, I have found links in “referral traffic” and not here.
I promise I’ll look into this… But if you have anything to add don’t hesitate to contact me!
Conversions: this is the most useful report for assessing ROI. It displays the number of conversions for each social network and the total number of conversions (the goal has to be entered manually). It also compares assisted and direct conversions. It is very useful for knowing the results of the conversions for each network.
Plugins: if you have social media buttons (and we’ve already agreed you do) this report enables us to know which pages are being shared the most and from which social networks our pages are being shared from. This can be useful to create more content related or similar to the most popular content and vice versa. You can even test where the buttons should go on your website, comparing results, switching them about, etc…
Users Flow: this serves to analyse browsing paths users that reach your website from social media take. Clicking on each network displays the browsing path users reaching your website from here have taken. By examining the path in depth you can see which pages are dead-ends and change them to ensure greater interactivity with the rest of the page. As you know, the longer they spend on your website, the greater the possibilities of them making a conversion, or simply remembering your brand.
9. Customized reports on Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a gem. As you probably know by now. And it’s even more useful when you are sufficiently proficient in its use to customize your own reports. Sometimes it gives you more information than you need, and others you need to go from one tab to anther to get all the information you need. There’s nothing like being able to set up your own report.
This can be done in the “Customisation” tab.
And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s more good news: there’s a gallery of solutions on Google Analytics where we can find customised reports. A la cart reports!
And voilà! With this guide and a bit of practice you have all you need to measure the impact of your social media campaigns. 😉