How to track social sharing in Google Analytics

How To Track Social Sharing In Google Analytics

Social media has become a powerful marketing tool and is essential to just about any sites success online. It has taken the concept of word of mouth and digitized and amplified into one of the most rewarding free traffic drivers available today.

Social media metrics have become more and more important to the modern marketer and gathering data on how content performs on social is key to improving your presence on these platforms.

However, In recent months Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ have altered their API’s to remove the share counter and you can no longer request the data from them to display on your site.

So how do you know what content is popular and on which channels? By using social tracking of course.

Social tracking options

Fortunately, there are 3rd party social sharing apps that capture this data on their server and store it for you but you are then tied to that platform and these are more often than not, paid services.

If you’re not too concerned about having your shares displayed publicly on your site or just want more insight into what content is being shared then setting up your social tracking reports in Google analytics is a must.

How to track social media shares with google analytics

Hardcoded

If you’re using Google Analytics Universal on your site you’re running custom social interaction buttons you can add on click event tracking to each of your elements.

Add the following code to each of your elements and update with the relevant social media channel and action.

ga('send', 'social', [socialNetwork], [socialAction], [socialTarget], [fieldsObject]);

Field Name Value Type Required Description
socialNetwork text yes The network on which the action occurs (e.g. Facebook, Twitter)
socialAction text yes The type of action that happens (e.g. Like, Send, Tweet).
socialTarget text yes Specifies the target of a social interaction. This value is typically a URL but can be any text. (e.g. http://mycoolpage.com)



Note: By default, Google Analytics provides integrated reporting for the +1 Button. This means if you have implemented analytics.js and a +1 Button on the same page, all +1 interactions will be automatically reported as social interactions via each of the trackers on the page.

Plugin

There is a range of social plugins available that can do the job but my personal favourite is Shareaholic. It’s available as a WordPress plugin or as a tag template in Google Tag manager.

  • All you will need to do is set up a Shareaholic account
  • Follow the installation details and get your Shareaholic ID.
  • Add your ID to the tag and finally set the trigger to fire on all pages

GTM shareaholic

Google Tag Manager

If you’re not keen on injecting 3rd party scripts on your site and you’re running GTM then you can create your own custom tag. You will need to first set up an click tracker on each element you want to track. Once you’ve set up a trigger and then create a Google Analytics Universal tag.

  • Select the track type social
  • Add your parameters for each social network
  • Finally, set the tag to fire on all the pages hosting your native social prompts

GTM social event tracking

How to find social media reports in Google Analytics

Once you have your reporting set up and would like to start reviewing your data.

  • Login to your analytics account
  • Click on the acquisition tab
  • Click on social

You should now have access to 6 new reports based on your site users social media activity.

Explore your social circle

While social media reporting is available in Google Analytics it is not enabled by default so you will have to do some research into how to set it up correctly for your website. Once it’s set up correctly you will have access to a wealth of data particularly if you’re site relies heavily on social media as a source of traffic.

Personally, this is one of my favourite reports to get up since it gives you great insights into traffic from dark social (Non tracked social media traffic) which is usually attributed to direct traffic.

Note: There are also additional metrics you can look at adding and if you want to know more about custom metrics check out our post – 30+ Metrics You Can Track Using GA Custom Dimensions

CONTACT US

If you want to know more about analytics or social media marketing for your site don’t be shy we’re happy to assist. Simply contact us

About the author

Che Kohler

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2 Comments

  • Thanks Che, Good read!

    I am however missing the part about adding a trigger in GTM for the sharing event. Perhaps even catching just the user intent.

    On my Shareaholic integration, a click on a sharing service produces the following click class in GTM (gtm.elementClasses: ‘shareaholic-service-icon shareaholic-service-facebook’).

    • Hi Yair,

      If you’re using Shareaholic why not use the Google Tag Manager Shareaholic tag template instead of trying to match everything with a custom variable? If you’re still having trouble and want to do a custom set up, please contact us directly and we can help out

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