A Guide To Google Analytics For Social Media Managers
Google Analytics is an invaluable tool for every member of the digital marketing team, and whether you believe it or not, that includes social media managers. In fact, no matter how well you’ve been doing your job already, once you’ve learned a little more about analytics you’ll find that everything comes crashing together even better than before.
The key to using Google Analytics is to remember the role social media plays for your company. Knowing your purpose is key to getting the most out of it. Google Analytics is how you measure success against that purpose.
One of the most useful tools for social media managers is UTM Tracking and Custom Campaigns. Google Analytics is great at separating out your traffic to tell you whether it’s coming from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. but that’s not always enough. Have you ever wondered if more traffic from Twitter came from your 9am tweets or your lunchtime ones? Or whether that constant Facebook traffic is all coming from the same post, or a mix between them? Custom campaigns can answer all your questions.
They key here is using something known as utm (urchin tracking module) tags. Using a URL builder allows you to add a tracking code to each url that specifies something unique about it. Each utm tag can have multiple elements that link them to a single campaign while being unique in other ways, to make tracking even easier.
Here’s a quick rundown:
- Campaign Source is where visitors are coming from. Label this “Facebook”, “Twitter”, “Instagram” etc. so that all traffic from that link is labelled as coming from a certain site. Primary Dimension: Source
- Campaign Medium allows you to note what sort of link the visitor came from, such as “post” or “ad”. This is useful for separating paid ad traffic from natural post traffic when you’re running both side by side. Primary Dimension: Medium
- Campaign Name is the particular campaign you’re running, such as “summer_sale”, “new_products” or “friday_blog”. This lets you track how much traffic is coming through from a particular push, and can link it between different sources, too. Primary Dimension: Campaign
- Campaign Content notes the difference in content between two functionally similar posts. This is useful for noting down what day or time a post was made, such as “wednesday”, “morning” or “9am”. Primary Dimension: Ad Content
Once you’ve set up custom urls, you can track them in Google Analytics under Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns. Switch the primary dimension to whichever is most important to you and voila! Now you can see how many people clicked on exactly each link to your site, enabling you to measure the success of each post individually, as well as how they fit into larger, cross-channel campaigns and your overall strategy.
Annotations are another nice way of keeping track of events relating to social media, especially when you’re tracking changes over the long term. An annotation allows you to mark a specific date with a comment, reminding yourself in future of something specific that might have affected traffic during this period.
You can add an annotation by going to Admin > Annotations > New Annotation. Select the date you want, then add a comment of up to 160 characters with detail of what you need to keep track of. This might be as simple as “summer product launch” or “new site goes live”, or could contain more precise details like the exact time of an event and a reminder of what results to measure.
Annotations are useful for tracking events that aren’t necessarily tied to user actions, or even tied to your website at all. Perhaps a world event is likely to change people’s interest in your site and social media. Maybe the marketing or social media team has been overhauled, or new practices and tools put in place. Most often a new sale starts, new products are added to an ecommerce store or a website is overhauled in a minor or major way.
Using annotations helps everyone using Analytics understand what underlying causes might be having an effect on traffic. As social media manager, this helps you understand why more or less people have been interacting through social media, and to what extent your efforts have impacted performance based on this event. If there is a summer sale, an annotation will help you pinpoint when it starts so that you can see how much traffic has come from social media during that time, and track your performance during the event.
Behaviour Flow/Conversion Funnel
Getting people to your website is only the first part of your role as social media manager. Once they’re there, you want to know what they’re doing on the site to see how valuable they are. Some social media posts will draw in huge traffic, but none of it goes anywhere. Some will seem to draw in hardly any but still manage to make good profits. Understanding which is which will help you to see what’s working, what isn’t, and improve for next time.
There are two main methods of tracking visitors as they move through your site: Behaviour Flow and Conversion Funnels.
Behaviour flow tracks the general movement of people through your site from the landing page to the exit page. If you narrow it down to just social media traffic, or even to specific campaigns, you can see where people enter, what they do once they’re there, and then where they leave. This view is useful for figuring out how people generally use the website, what they’re looking for and, if they give up, when.
Conversion funnels are more narrowly used for measuring the flow of people through your site from a landing page through a specific process or set of pages to a predetermined end point. They’re great for measuring how many people from social media are making it through to conversion, and the stage of the process that is turning most people away.
These both have their place in your strategy as well as the wider digital marketing strategy. For a social media manager, understanding how people use the site helps to understand what they expect once they get there, and thus what is likely to draw them in from social media. Understanding the conversion funnel meanwhile helps you to see how many people from social media are making it to which point, so that you know what to improve on both ends of the customer experience.
Goals and Conversions
Your primary end goal as social media manager is the same as everyone else in your company: to help improve the business’ performance. There are many different methods to achieve this, but the only way to improve is to measure the performance of what you’re doing and how it fits in with the rest of the marketing strategy, which means you need to be keeping your own eye on the business’ goals and conversion rates.
For an ecommerce store, your primary interest is almost certainly conversion rate and net profit, tracked in Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview. For other businesses you’re likely to have specific goals set up in Google Analytics, which can be tracked in Conversions > Goals > Overview.
In either case, this is where you can see the general conversion rates of both ecommerce transactions and goals, as well as filter down to see how well social media is doing in this area. Just remember, social media traffic doesn’t always directly lead to conversions, so it’s always worth seeing how performance is increasing over time generally compared to specific events you may have annotated earlier. If conversion rates or numbers increase after a big social media push, it may not be reflected directly but you can still draw your own conclusions.