Tracking Social Media Engagement in Google Analytics


There are constant conversations about the ROI of social media because most businesses take actions completely based upon dollar amounts. Many associate social engagement on the various platforms as a part of the overall sales funnel, but a lot of the time aren’t able to connect eCommerce to engagement. Google Analytics has recently gotten one step closer to defining this relationship. By adding the ability to track social media plugins installed on your website, Google Analytics can track the actions of a social engaged user and begin to quantifying the relationship between their social actions and their behavior on your website.

Google’s +1s are automatically tracked if you already have Google Analytics code installed on your website. To track Facebook Likes, Unlikes, Shares and Twitter’s Tweets you must install tracking code to each network’s button to make sure you’re reaping the full benefits of GA’s new social section. Previously, event tracking provided a general way to track these social engagements on your website, but now Social Tracking allows for a standardized framework for measuring social actions on your website.


This is a step in the right direction for many trying to quantify their use of social media. Many current methods of social media measurement are scattered across different third party tools utilizing the various platforms API. Many of the tools, especially the free ones, don’t have the level of actionable insights many brands would rely on for making enterprise level decisions. Google has some of the highest brand trust among consumers and brands worldwide, that many companies will most likely continue over to include social tracking.

Therefore, Google Analytics measuring how social factors impact a company’s website will hopefully help more businesses and brands utilize social media to its fullest potential. It’s starting to make it easier for a company with multiple social accounts to consolidate their social metrics into one trusted measurement platform. The fact that this rolled out close to the launch of Google+ is most likely on purpose. Google is probably hoping that Social Tracking will drive more legitimacy to its social network, especially from brands looking to measure their efforts, and eventually be able to compete on the same playing field with Facebook.

What metrics do you take into account when measuring social media engagement? What tools have you found to be most effective in delivering results?

Brian is a former LunaMetrician and contributor to our blog.

  • Hi Brian,
    I would argue the biggest benefit from social analytics as it exists in Google tools is going to be the effect +1 has on search, which is fascinating. I really think that to get to grips with social sharing, analysts need to move the focus away from their own site and try to get a grip on what happens to content once it’s out there. Analytics from a sharing service like AddThis, and social media monitoring tools, will give us much more insight than an on-click event counter on a button.
    Of course we should set the counters up as it’s trivial to do so, but I’m not expecting much from them.

  • Brian Honigman

    Hey Phil,

    The effect of Google+ and the +1 button has still yet to be seen but I agree it is very important to stay on top of them as they are certainly going to affect the way we share content. You’re certainly right that many website owners worry more about what’s on their website then what’s happening with their brand on these various social channels. A brand’s efforts should be balanced between the two.

  • and how to track facebook, twitter in google analytics?

  • Brian Honigman


    At this point the only aspect of Facebook or Twitter that can be tracked in Google Analytics are social actions occurring on your website like a Facebook Like, Share or a Twitter Tweet. if you do setup a iFrames app on your Facebook Page, it can be tracked using Google Analytics as well.

  • Googles itself says that they are beginning to focus more on +1s in their algorithm. It makes sense that they will move to a more socially based indexing system. In fact they need to do this in order to stay relevant.

  • Brian Honigman

    I agree Sally. They needed to incorporate social features on some level to their existing products to ensure they stay relevant with the social web.

  • Thats exactly right Brian, overseas search engines like Yandex have moved to more social based results and even Google needs to keep up with the changes or even they will become less relevant than their competitors. They are well aware of this.

  • I would agree with you entirely Sally – Google needs to keep up with the changes and they are obviously trying hard to do this however the ever increasing rate of change makes it hard to predict what they will do next. They have just changed their whole approach to local – what next?

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