Google Analytics & social media

The most frequently asked questions about tracking social media on Google Analytics get answered.

How do I track my social media channels on Google Analytics?

Google Analytics has a number of standard reports for tracking social interactions. They can be found under “Acquisition” in the menu. These reports give you an idea of how different social networks contribute to your site’s audience and conversions. There, you will see which shared URLs bring traffic to your site along with user flow from social networks.

By default, Google Analytics tracks social interaction on the Google+ network. If you need to track likes, shares or other actions on social networks other than Google+, you will need to add other tracking codes by following the instructions here.

If you are interested in such social actions as likes and shares, keep in mind that there are some pitfalls for tracking such events. Most of the popular widgets for social sharing, like AddThis ( or AddToAny (, do not offer an interface to track whether an attempt to share the content was successful or not.  They have APIs to send any event related to content sharing (so you can configure them to send social hits to Google Analytics), but that event is actually initiated by clicking the “Share” button, which means that your social event will be recorded in Google Analytics when a user intends to share the content, but before he/she actually shares it. The user can change his/her mind and not share the content after he/she has seen the preview of the post on the social media platform, but the social hit will already be sent. For most businesses, this inaccuracy in tracking is not a big deal, but if you are very concerned about shares on social media, keep in mind that with such an integration, your Google Analytics may show more shares than there were in reality.

If your business is very sensitive about social actions and you need to be more accurate about this tracking, you need to create your own application for each of the social networks and use callbacks on those applications to record social hits in Google Analytics only if the sharing event was successful.

To do this, you typically need to track links from different posts or ads on a number of social networks as well as further user interaction. To identify the source of session accurately, it is best to use utm-marks for all the links you publish on social networks. To mark the links with utm-marks you can either use the URL Builder or the spreadsheet
(the advantages of using the spreadsheet were explained in the question “How do I use the Google Analytics URL Builder?”)

If you used utm-marks for your social media links, you will be able to distinguish the source of traffic the same way you normally do. For each session that comes to your site, you will see its source, medium, campaign and other attributes. You will be able to attribute your social media traffic with utm-marks just as you do for any campaign outside social media networks.

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