Beth Kanter posted an interesting question on Facebook today, asking people if they track referrals to their website from social media. I am amazed by how many people don’t do this, especially because it is phenomenally easy using Google Analytics.
I’ll explain exactly how to get this information in a minute. But first, let’s look into why it matters.
Why social media referrals matter
Even if you look to Facebook page insights to see which of your posts get the most engagement, and even if you use a more robust social media metrics platform to help analyze your social media feeds, you shouldn’t forget about good old website analytics. That’s because engagement isn’t an end unto itself. It’s really a tool in your efforts toward a larger goal. Your social media strategy should define what it is that you are hoping to get from social media: new volunteers, new members, donations, product sales, and so on. You want good engagement with your social media feeds in order to further those goals, not just to show engagement for its own sake.
So why on earth would you only look at analytics on your social media platform? Yes, it’s important for people to share and like your social media posts, but isn’t it more important that they help you achieve the goals that you have set out for your social media work? Many of those goals are tasks that can be performed on your website – and that’s really why you want to monitor social media referrals to your website.
How to track social media referrals
Now let’s get our hands dirty and see how this is done. It’s really very simple if you use Google Analytics, which I’m going to show here. (If you don’t use Google Analytics, rest assured that any other high-quality metrics package should make this data equally accessible. But also consider adding Google Analytics to your website. It’s free, gives great data, and can run side-by-side with another analytics package.)
In getting you to data about your social media referrals, Google has basically done all the work for you. There’s a ready-made report available to you that shows what social media networks are referring traffic to your website, and what URLs that traffic is going to. This video explains how to find this information in Google Analytics:
Of course, there’s a lot more that you can do with this information, beyond simply looking at landing page URLs. Try, for example, setting up an advanced segment for your social media referrals, so you can apply social media as a filter anywhere within your reporting. If you have goals set up for your website, Google also lets you see conversions specifically from social media traffic. That’s an important tool for analyzing the success of your social media.
I encourage everyone who uses social media to play around with these reports to see the insights they can give you into the success you’re seeing form social media.