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Google Analytics for Social Media: How to Track Performance

Daphne North
January 24, 2023
Last Updated On
January 4, 2024
google analytics for social media

January 4, 2023: This blog has been updated to reflect the newest version of Google Analytics, GA4.

More and more, social media is becoming a critical tool in selling products and services. Brands everywhere are investing in these channels, and the opportunities continue to grow. A study by EMarketer found that half of US Gen Z and millennial users make purchases on social media.

However, proving cross-channel social marketing ROI and how it drives sales continues to be a consistent pain point for marketing teams everywhere. Without measuring the impact of your team’s work, you can’t prove the value you’re driving for your organization or make data-informed decisions on where to focus your social efforts.

Ultimately, it starts with driving traffic and measuring those results. That’s where Google Analytics 4 (GA4) comes in. 

How To View Your Social Media Performance in Google Analytics

Google Analytics for social media helps understand and measure which platforms are driving traffic to your website and, when used correctly, can help connect the dots between social marketing and results. This requires building effective tracking links within your Google Analytics, which we will get into shortly.

Once you’ve set up your links, Google Analytics will pull in the data every time someone clicks on the link.

Step 1: Head to your Google Analytics profile and click “Acquisition” in the left menu to view your analytics.

Step 2: Next, select “Traffic Acquisition” - Google groups traffic by default to begin with. However you can always filter to view a breakdown by source, medium, campaign, or combination. This will allow you to see how much traffic and revenue comes from each UTM tag.

To get this view in Google Analytics, the user must click on 'Session default channel group' in the left column.

Select Reports  > Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns

Brands also need to pick a specific Dash Hudson campaign date range that has Google Analytics activity for the utm_campaign to be visible for selection.

What’s Google Analytics 4?

Google Analytics 4 was implemented on July 1, 2023 — a new version of the current Google Analytics many digital marketers know and love. 

So, what’s different about Google Analytics 4?: 

  • Collect data from your website and app for a better picture of your customer’s journey 
  • Provide event-based data vs. session-based data 
  • Cookie-less measurement for marketers to collect data on customer’s journey who have disabled cookies
  • Offer direct integrations with media platforms 

How To Use Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager lets you add tags to your website straight from Tag Manager — tags are code that let you integrate analytics and other marketing supports to your website so marketers can collect more meaningful information about site usage. 

To implement Google Tag Manager on your website:

  • Go to Google Tag Manager
  • Go to Accounts > Create an Account 
  • Create your account name and select your country
  • Name your container and select the container type 
  • Click Create 
  • You’ll receive a Web and AMP code snippet for your site, a link to the developer document for iOS and Android, or you can select an automatic or manual provision.
  • Click Workspace
  • Select your container ID (GTM-XXXXXX) 
  • Copy and paste the code snippet to your website.

To add new tags to your container: 

  • In Workspace, select Tags > New,
  • Name your tag and choose your configuration (This could be for Google Products or Third-Party Tags),
  • Select what Triggers you’d like to define for your tag,
  • Verify that your tags work,
  • Select Submit > Publish and Create Version,
  • Review your Workspace changes to ensure your tags configure correctly, 
  • Enter your Version Name and Description,
  • Select Publish,
  • You’ve now set up Google Tag Manager! 

How Do You Add Google Analytics to Your Website?

It’s relatively simple to use Google Analytics 4 with your website. First, make sure you are signed up for Google Analytics. To set up a Google Analytics Property:

  • Go to ‘Admin’ and select ‘Create Property’.
  • Select your timezone, name your property, industry and business size.
  • Users must also select what they intend to use GA4 for — this indicates the types of reports GA4 will generate. For example, if you select ‘Raise brand awareness’ your default reports will include Google Ads campaigns, Demographic details and Pages and screens. 
  • Choose ‘Create’. You now have a Google Analytics property. 
  • Now, select your Data Stream — this is how data is delivered to your GA4 account. 
  • In the ‘Admin’ column, select your property. 
  • Click ‘Data Streams’, then ‘Add Stream’.
  • Select ‘iOS app’, ‘Android app’ or ‘Web’.

To use Google Analytics for social media and understand how customers navigate your website and social profiles, you should create events centered around social performance. In Google Analytics 4, there is no distinction between goals and events. To set up social events in Google Analytics: 

  • Go to Admin in the bottom left-hand corner,
  • Select ‘create event’, 
  • Enter an event name,
  • Select the conditions of your event (This can be anything from link clicks, checkouts and more). 
  • If necessary, modify any event parameters,
  • Select Create,
  • You’ve created a new Google Analytics event.

Understanding UTMs in Google Analytics

UTM (urchin tracking module) are codes that tell you exactly where your traffic comes from. These codes are added to the end of URLs to help give a better idea of how traffic is getting to your website, giving you a better understanding of your marketing performance.

Adding UTMs to the end of your URLs when posting on social helps to show how the same post drove traffic across different platforms. For example, if you posted the same content on Instagram, Pinterest, Tikok, and Facebook using channel-specific UTMs, using Google Analytics lets you easily tell which platform drove the most traffic, helping you make better-informed decisions on where to focus your efforts, helping perfect your brand’s digital strategy.

How To Build UTMs Parameters

You can add five standard UTM parameters to the end of your URL to get a clearer picture of your social performance. You don’t need to add five, but the more you add, the more granular you can be in your analysis. A standard URL with UTMs can look like this:

Source’ is where the traffic originated from. This could be sources like Instagram, Facebook, Google, or an email list. 

Ex, utm_source=instagram, utm_source=google

Medium is the general area driving traffic.

Ex, utm_medium=social, utm_medium=email, utm_medium=paid_social

Campaign lets you track the performance of a specific campaign you’re running. You can use this to differentiate from various campaigns you’re running simultaneously, new product launches, and more.

Ex, utm_campaign=spring-sale, product-launch

Content is used to help differentiate if you have multiple links using the same URL or the URL to the social post, so you know precisely which post the traffic is coming from.

Ex, utm_content=<instagram_post_URL>, utm_content=homebutton

Term is generally used for paid search ads and can help you see which keywords a user got to your site from. Term can also be used for key phrases.

Ex, utm_term=how_to_write_a_blog

Building UTMs can seem daunting at first. However, there are tools you can use to assist. When posting using Dash Hudson’s scheduler, we’ll automatically add UTMs to your posts, removing stress.

If you don’t use Dash Hudson, Google Analytics has an easy Campaign URL builder that will help you easily generate URLs.

Benefits of Using UTMs and Best Practices

If UTMs are new to your brand, you may be wondering why they're so important. Here are a couple of reasons UTMs are beneficial for brands while using Google Analytics for social media.

1. Measure social media results.

Proving ROI has been a struggle for marketers. UTMs make that easier, especially coupled with cross-channel tools like Dash Hudson. This helps communicate to key stakeholders like your managers and customers what is driving traffic to your website and sales. By simply adding UTM parameters to social media links, you can easily measure and see the impact of your social media efforts. 

2. Drive strategic decisions.

Social media is constantly changing, and Social Media Managers are in the thick of that change daily. Whether it's a new form of content or new channels, testing, measuring, and adjusting your strategy is an ongoing part of the job.

Using UTMs to track what content is resonating with your audiences and driving results is critical to shifting your strategy and focusing on the channels and content types that deliver results. This also helps explain your strategy change to your leadership or shifts in budget allocation.

3. Connect social to revenue.

In addition to understanding what is driving traffic to your website, using UTMs can add additional value by connecting social media efforts to transactions on your website. This connects exact dollar value with the various social media campaigns you’re working on, helps with reporting the ROI on social media, and ultimately helps prove why social media is such an essential part of marketing.  

How To Use Google Analytics and Dash Hudson to Maximize Your Social Media Strategy

You can understand how your social media channels drive social commerce results and ROI by using UTMs and connecting your Google Analytics to Dash Hudson’s cross-channel campaigns tool. Tying together the utm_campaigns to the visual content used in the campaign set up in Dash Hudson, brands can see the specific source/mediums that are associated with each campaign to compare what is driving the most traffic and revenue.

Step 1

When scheduling through Dash Hudson, default UTMs will automatically apply for you. If you'd like to customize these further to align with your social campaigns, simply copy-paste links with UTMs when scheduling your content! (or reach out to your account manager to update the defaults).

Many brands use UTM builders or even a spreadsheet to customize their UTMs ahead of time.

step 1 to using google analytics integration with dash hudson

Step 2

Login to your Google Analytics account through Dash Hudson, and select the GA4 account with your site traffic.

step 2 to using google analytics integration with dash hudson

Step 3

 Go to your Dash Hudson Campaign and select the campaign UTM to match - then view all your traffic & revenue data in one place!

step 3 to using google analytics integration with dash hudson

Check out our Campaigns Interactive Demo to understand how to Use Google Analytics for social media and Dash Hudson to Maximize Your Cross-Channel Social Media Strategy.


Can Google Analytics track TikTok?

Yes, Google Analytics can track TikTok. Be sure to adjust the source in your UTM to reflect TikTok. 

Can Google Analytics track Instagram?

Yes, Google Analytics can track Instagram. Be sure to adjust the source in your UTM to reflect Instagram. 

Can Google Analytics track Facebook?

Yes, Google Analytics can track Facebook. Be sure to adjust the source in your UTM to reflect Facebook. 

Can Google Analytics track Twitter?

Yes, Google Analytics can track Twitter. Be sure to adjust the source in your UTM to reflect Twitter. 

Can Google Analytics track YouTube?

Yes, Google Analytics can track YouTube. Be sure to adjust the source in your UTM to reflect YouTube.

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