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Using Google Analytics to Measure Social Media Effectiveness

From company blogs to Pinterest boards, social media and content marketing integration is a must-do for today’s businesses. Strategic content marketing through social media channels drives organic links and search engine rank. Companies that master the art of social media content marketing benefit from increased site traffic, improved conversion rates and greater web marketing ROI.

Determining the effectiveness of your business’s social media and content marketing strategy, however, can be difficult. What do all those “likes” really mean? Do visitors sent to your website via social media turn into customers – or do they bounce off your site within a few seconds of arriving never to be seen again?

Understanding Google’s Interactivity Metrics

With social media interaction increasingly important for SEO, Google Analytics has rolled out a whole range of “interactivity” and “sociability” metrics. Gone are the days when page rank or site traffic were the only website metrics that you needed to worry about. In today’s social media dominated landscape, these interactivity metrics are the best indicator of your website’s performance. Failure to track these metrics provides an incomplete picture of your website and shortchanges your SEO strategy.

Strategic Content Marketing Drives SER: Why Website Sociability Matters

Before we dissect Google’s Interactivity metrics, it’s important to understand exactly what we’re measuring and why these measurements matter. It’s no secret that content marketing via social media drives organic links and higher SER. Customers discover new brands on Pinterest, they tweet about good (or bad) customer service, and they share your company’s latest white paper on LinkedIn. In short, social media helps amplify your message, engages with customers in a meaningful way, and empowers customers to invest in your brand.

A recent survey by Empathica Consumer Insights underscores the importance of social media marketing, highlighting the ways in which social media increasingly affects a customer’s relationship with brands and retail purchasing decisions. For example, 55% of customers have liked a brand on Facebook, 27% have checked in to a location using a mobile app and 8% have tweeted about a brand or an experience with a brand. Social care is quickly becoming the new customer care: one out of three social media users prefer to use social media for customer support rather than phone support, according to NM Incite. Sociability can make or break your business – and interaction metrics are key to understanding whether your social strategies are working or failing.

3 Key Interactivity & Sociability Metrics

Whether your business wants to build brand awareness or identify new opportunities for growth and profitability, monitoring your company’s interactivity and sociability analytics is key. Here’s how to use Google Analytics to answer three key questions about social media and content marketing:

#1: “What happens when visitors arrive on my website from Facebook?”

Your metric of choice: Social Visitors Flow.

Social Visitors Flow Report is a visual presentation of how visitors who arrive via social media navigate your website. This report delivers two key insights: (1) which social platforms are sending the most traffic to your website and (2) what your new visitors do once they arrive. This report shows the top landing pages as well as the page drop-off rate. Comparing drop-off rates from different social traffic sources helps you determine which social media services send the most interactive visitors to your website.

The Social Visitors Flow report also shows your visitors second, third and fourth interactions with your website. Do Facebook visitors just read one blog article and bounce? The answers lie in your Social Visitors Flow Report. Having a side-by-side comparison of different social media channels is critical; this provides a deeper understanding of what is working and what is not. For example, you might even discover that visitors from Facebook spend more time on your website than visitors from your paid AdWords campaigns.

#2: “What content is most interactive on my website?”

Your metric of choice: In-Page Analytics

How do visitors interact with the content on your website? Is one menu item more popular than others? Does anyone actually scroll down and read below the fold? Answers to these questions – and many others – can be determined via Google’s In-Page Analytics. In-Page Analytics is a sandboxed version of your website displayed within Google Analytics; hover you mouse next to each link or button to see click data. This click data can help you determine what content is most “interactive”, i.e., receiving the most clicks.

#3: “How valuable is my social media traffic?”

Your metric of choice: Social traffic goals.

So your Pinterest visitors spend a lot of time on your website – but are they simply repining items or actually making purchases? The same goes for any other social media site. Yes, referrals from social media are great. But the real benefits occur with a bump in conversion rates. By setting up conversion goals (which is extremely important) you can track how social traffic drives key conversions, such as email list sign-ups, free trial subscriptions, or shopping cart purchases.

Defining a monetary value for website conversion will provide a specific dollar amount for the “social value” of your social media traffic. You can also track which social media channels best assist with conversions. An “assist” occurs when someone visits your site, leaves without converting, but then returns and converts on a later visit (within 30 days). To track this metric, go to the multi-channel funnel report and evaluate the “conversion” to see which channels (i.e., social networks) are assisting with the most conversions.


Old-school sociability metrics measured how many visitors came from Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites – and that was it. Unfortunately, this left you guessing as to what these visitors actually did on your website. Social Visitors Flow, In-Page Analytics and social traffic goals give you a complete snapshot of key interactivity and sociability metrics. By understanding which social media sites drive the most traffic and ultimately boost conversion rates, you can effectively leverage the power of social media to not only drive website traffic, but also build your business’s brand and boost sales.


Chris Sparks, iSpionage Director of Marketing
Chris is an online marketing and content strategist here at iSpionage building awareness and engagement within our target markets.