How social media affects your website conversions – Google Analytics Social Reports

Google Analytics Social Reports are a great way to see the results of your social media efforts on your website. As the hub of your online presence, your website is where the dollar lies. Knowing which social networks are bringing the most active visitors to your site has to be a plus for your business.

To make full use of this Google Analytics feature, you must first set up goals to collect data for the reports.

Starting with your goals

A goal is a task a visitor can complete on your website. Your goals would be tasks that you consider an achievement, or a conversion, such as landing on your subscription confirmation page, clicking your ‘Follow us on Twitter’ button, or making a sale.

Setting up your goals is easy. Once you are logged into Google Analytics, click on Admin (top-right corner) and select the Goals tab. From there you click +Goal and fill out the relevant information, repeating this step for each goal.

More detailed guidelines on setting goals can be found in the article “Google Analytics in Depth: Goals and Funnels”, by Dave Sparks.

Reviewing your Social Reports

With your goals in place, you can view some really useful social media feedback.

Under Standard Reporting, go to the left-hand menu and click on Traffic Sources. A sub-menu will appear – click on Social. This reveals another sub-menu containing the following links.

Overview – As you would guess, this page displays a summary of the other Social sections.overview1


Sources – This section shows a list of referring social networks, and their resulting visits to your site.

A great feature here is that you can drill down to the related off-site conversations. This is limited, though, to Google’s Social Data Hub partner networks. Currently, the list of partners include:

  • AllVoices
  • Badoo
  • Blogger
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Diigo
  • Disqus
  • Echo
  • Gigya
  • Google+
  • Google Groups
  • Hatena
  • Livefyre
  • Meetup
  • Read It Later
  • Reddit
  • Screen Rant
  • SodaHead
  • TypePad
  • VKontakte
  • yaplog!

To find these conversations go to Source, click on a network with a hub symbol  . Click on a page link, then finally select the Activity Stream tab. Here you will see something like this:conversation

– This report contains much the same information as Sources, but starts from the pages list. If you click on a page link, you can see more detail about the social networks breakdown for that page.

Conversions – You can identify which networks offer you greater value towards reaching your goals. This will help you understand social media’s direct impact on your business.

You can then focus your efforts on the more successful social networks to reap greater success.

Social Plugins – Find out which social buttons are clicked on your site and which pages are shared and liked.

At the moment, only Google +1 interactions are recorded by default. To track interactions with non-Google plugins, you will need to modify your site’s Google Analytics tracking code. Google’s developer guides offer information on how to track non-Google social interactions on your site.

Another option for gauging social plugins activity on your WordPress blog is to use the Social Metrics plugin in your WordPress admin area.

Social Visitors Flow – A great visual tool, you can see at a glance which social networks are feeding your website, and how they compare.Social-Visitors-Flow

Digging deeper

You will find that on all pages, the deeper you click or drill-down, the more detail and feedback you will find. If you try every link and every tab – you will keep discovering more. How far you dig is really up to the detail you are looking for.

But keep your focus on what it is you are looking for, and how you can better use the information to adjust and improve your social efforts. The reports can also help you deliver greater value by learning which types of content inspire action.

What are your thoughts on the value of Google Analytics Social Reports? Do they offer great insights for you? Are there features that you feel are missing? Share your thoughts in the box below.


  1. Juan Felix May 10, 2012 Reply

    Hi Carolyn, thanks a lot for these insights. I think these social reports offer awesome stats to know what social channels drive traffic and to help with optimizing promotion strategies :)

    • Author
      Carolyn Wilson May 14, 2012 Reply

      Thanks, Juan. It’s great information. Once the time is taken to sit down and set it up, the information is priceless.

  2. Melonie Dodaro May 10, 2012 Reply

    Hi Carolyn, thanks for sharing this. I think these social reports will surely help us out get a better understanding on what to adjust and improve with our social efforts.

    • Author
      Carolyn Wilson May 14, 2012 Reply

      Thanks, Melonie. It’s interesting to learn content that works for Facebook fans doesn’t necessarily succeed with Twitter followers…or even finding those sweet spots that work for both – that’s a bonus.

  3. Great post, Carolyn! This manages to both simplify things for me and goes deeper than what I already knew about Google Analytics and its tracking of social data. Thank you!

  4. ambreen11 March 4, 2013 Reply

    Good summary. I have a question about the social conversion report though. Can you get the same data by using the Assisted Conversions report and then creating a Channel grouping for social media domains? I mean, this is way more friendly and the question is purely academic.

    • Author
      Carolyn Wilson March 27, 2013 Reply

      Hi. Thanks for your question. The Assisted Conversions are a part of Google’s Social Reports, measuring the success and monetary values achieved from the conversations taking place – which are also reported, so you can see at a more personal level what conversations are leading to the conversions.
      The Assisted Conversions display the results, while the other information helps more with how the results were achieved.

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