Google’s roll-out of the new Universal Analytics has created a lot of turmoil for social media marketers trying to keep consistent analytics data. They launched it with very spotty documentation while also trashing data from before August 2013. Now Google has announced it will be forcing everyone to upgrade to Universal Analytics in the coming months. The new data sets have already been rolled out to most accounts, which may leave you wondering how to continue tracking social metrics with the new format. Here’s some great news for social media marketers — UA offers much deeper insights into social media traffic.
In this article, I will explain how social data has changed in Google Analytics, and provide new advanced segments that conform to the Universal Analytics data sets.
How Social Media Metrics Changed
Previously, social traffic was treated as referrals by default. Any social traffic through social media software like Argyle was treated as campaign traffic due to its automated UTM tagging feature. There was a social section within Google Analytics to look specifically at social metrics, but it wasn’t segmentable and it was difficult to extract all social visits from referral traffic. Basically, social metrics were very, very limited.
With Universal Analytics, social traffic is now considered a “default channel grouping”, where it is separated out from referral and all other types of traffic. The new channel grouping of traffic sources allows marketers to measure social media traffic with as much scrutiny and depth as any other traffic source. Traffic from different social media platforms can all be tied together now or tracked separately.
Instead of trying to find every type of referral source for a single platform (t.co, Twitter, Hootsuite, Twitter traffic from Argyle), Google Analytics is now intelligent enough to put all these sources together as Twitter traffic (although I still do like to create a RegEx for all possible sources in my custom segments as an extra added measure anyway).
New Custom Social Segments for Universal Analytics
Once you upgrade to Universal Analytics, or your account rolls over to the new data sets, you may need to rebuild your advanced segments for social traffic. Below are 10 custom segments you can quickly drop into Google Analytics to segment the most common social media data you may need. You may need to adjust these segments to conform to your social programs and blog setups. The examples provided cover the 5 main social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube) as well as a basic blog setup (where the blog lives at /blog).
At the end of each custom segment description, I will also provide a link to the segment template. If you log into your analytics account and drop the link in the address bar of your browser, the segment template will be loaded into your Analytics account. All you will have to do is select which profile views you want it added to, click create, then click save.
All Social Media Traffic Excluding Blog
If you want to look at all social media traffic from every social platform that has been driving traffic to your site, this simple segment provides that insight. This segment will segment out all visits to the social default channel grouping.
Targeted Social Media Traffic with Blog Included
Most social media marketers I have worked with over the years like to treat blog traffic as a social media platform since the two go hand-in-hand. This custom segment will allow you to look at traffic and user behavior from both the blog and the main social networks being used by the social media team. You can use this data to measure everything from basic traffic metrics to conversions directly attributed by your social media efforts.
Page → Contains → blog
This will segment all URLs containing the word blog in it. You may need to adjust this condition if your blog lives at a different URL than /blog, or if you have multiple blogs on the site.
Source → matches regex →
This regular expression will cover the 5 main social media platforms. If you are targeting any other networks, or are not targeting some of the networks within this regex, simply add or remove sources as needed.
Targeted Social Media Traffic Excluding the Blog
This segment is the same as above, but without the blog segmentation. Since you do not need to create a rule for the blog, you would create this segment under “Traffic Sources” rather than creating “Conditions”. This segment is useful if you want to look at targeted social networks only, while excluding the blog. It provides a way to measure pure social media performance.
Non-Targeted Social Media Traffic
If you’re interested in seeing how non-targeted social media networks are contributing to site traffic and conversions, you may find this segment very useful.
Default Channel Grouping → exactly matches → Social
Source → does not match regex →
Blog Traffic Only
Measuring blog engagement and how it contributes to conversions on the main site is imperative for measuring campaign success. This simple segment will allow you to see exactly how people are interacting with your blog.
This, and all the segments for individual social networks are pretty self-explanatory. Use these if you want to measure performance and conversions from individual networks. Using these will also help you determine which networks to invest more efforts on.
Source → matches regex → Facebook|facebook
Source → matches regex → Twitter|twitter|t\.co|twittergadget\.com|tweetdeck\.com
Source → matches regex → LinkedIn|linkedin|Linkedin
Source → matches regex → plus\.google\.com
Source → matches regex → YouTube|youtube|Youtube|youtube\.com