Google Analytics and Social Interaction Part II

Illustration by khalid Albaih, Flickr

In Google Analytics and Social Interaction Part 1, we looked at methods of recording how often people on our sites share content from that site with their networks in social media.  But how do we measure incoming traffic from these social networks?

Measuring Incoming Traffic With Google Analytics

The Campaigns tracking tool in Google Analytics provides as excellent tool for tracking incoming links. In order to use this tool, you’ll have to build a link that contains tracking codes for helping Analytics parse and categorize the incoming traffic. The process in doing so is not difficult, but it involves a little more time than just copying and pasting a link from your browser and pasting into a status update.

Google Link Builder

Google provides an excellent free tool called URL Builder to construct a link with the tracking information needed by Analytics. Go ahead and book mark this – this is an invaluable tool you should be using often.

This tool requires you to fill out a web form that asks for the relevant information. Only Campaign Source, Medium, and Name are the only required fields.:

  • Website URL: enter the web address that you re linking to
  • Campaign Source: Enter the name of the social media account that the ink will be placed on (Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc.)
  • Campaign Medium: Specify how the link will be displayed in its usage – (banner, email, link, etc.)
  • Campaign Term: If you are building a link for a paid campaign, you can specify the keywords that were purchased as part of the campaign
  • Campaign Content: You can use this field to assign a category for a link – for example, if you are going to have multiple links in your social media for a fundraising campaign, you could specify the link as belonging to fundraising or summer-fundraising to be able to measure that data separate from other links in that social media feed.
  • Campaign Name: Name of the campaign to track – (For example, social media, Facebook, etc.)

After completing your form fields, click Generate URL to get the link address.

Shorten The Link

Google will now give you your custom link, and it will be ugly and long. It won’t look attractive in a status update, let alone fit in a Twitter message.

That’s were a URL shortening service comes in. A service like or Hootsuite’s  will collapse the link into a manageable length for posting. Link previews built into Facebook and Twitter allow the end user to preview content before going to the link, which is important for users who might mistrust a link that they cannot tell the destination of before clicking on it.

Use the Link – Collect Analytics

Use the shortened link within your comment, status update or message.

Changes to your website usually begin to show results in 24 hours in Analytics. To view your traffic, go to the Campaigns page under Traffic Sources. There you’ll be able to generate the same kind of reports you do with other incoming traffic data and page interactions, and start determining which social media traffic sources yield the best results for drawing traffic to your web sites.

About the Author


Jeffrey Stevens

Jeff Stevens is the Assistant Web Manager for UF Health Web Services. He focuses on user experience, information architecture, content strategy, and usability.

Read all articles by Jeffrey Stevens