A Social Media Dashboard for Google Analytics

As I’ve talked about before, dashboards are great for people that are focused on a specific thing. You can create a dashboard focused on mobile, one that is focused on a certain campaign, or one that is focused on social.

Creating a social dashboard in Google Analytics is a lot easier now that we have specific social reports. This social dashboard outlined below will help you deep-dive into social data and understand social activities on, and to some extent, off, of a site.

Before we get into the details, I’d like to recognize Kayden Kelly for contributing some ideas used on this social dashboard. Thanks Kayden!

Social Dimensions & Metrics: Foundation for the Dashboard

To build a social dashboard you use the social dimensions and metrics. These are the same dimensions and metrics that generate the Google Analytics social reports. Here’s a quick overview:

Data Hub Activities: The social data hub is an open data collection platform. Any social network can send their social activity to Google Analytics. This metric is the total data hub activities for a given site.

Social Network: This dimension is a list of all the social networks that drive traffic to a site. These networks are automatically identified by Google Analytics.

Social Source Referral: This is a simple flag that indicates if the traffic source is from a social traffic source. This dimension is very useful if you want to create a widget that just contains data for social media.

Social Source & Action: This dimension is the name of a social network and an action that is specific to that social network. This track social sharing ON a site. GA will automatically track social interaction with Google + tools but needs to be configured to track other social sharing tools.

Social Entity: This is a URL that shared via social media. It’s any URL from your site.

Social Type: This is a simple boolean that indicates if a visitor is socially engaged, meaning they used a social sharing tool on your site. GA will automatically track social interaction with Google + tools but needs to be configured to track other social sharing tools.

The Social Media Dashboard

I’ve divided the dashboard into three sections: Off-site activity, On-site activity and Conversions/Outcomes. This makes it easy to evaluate user activity throughout the conversion process.

Feel free to download the Social Media Dashboard for Google Analytics and customize it.

Google Analytics Social Media Dashboard

It's easy to create a social media dashboard in Google Analytics.

Offsite Activities

This section is about what happens off of the site and some of the attributes of traffic that comes from social.

First is some basic context: total visits to the site. This puts all of the social data into context. You can quickly gauge when looking at a widget if social is a large or small percentage.

Next I wanted to get an idea of new traffic from social. So I included the % New Visits metric segmented for traffic from Social. When looking at this metric it’s a good idea to remember your social strategy. Are you trying to attract a new audience from social or trying to bring people back to the site? Your strategy will drive the context for this metric.

%New Traffic from Social Media

%New Traffic from Social Media

Now a widget to trend traffic and bounce rate from social. Here I can see how traffic from social changes over time. And we can use the total number of visits to the site to put this data into context. I also have bounce rate in this widget to gauge the quality of the social traffic. Do these people stick around or take off quickly?

Traffic and bounce rate from social sources.

A trend of traffic and bounce rate from social sources. How much traffic do you get from social and does it engage with your site?

The next widget is a plot of Social Data Hub Activities and Site Visits. I like this plot of offsite activities and site traffic. It’s a quick way to identify if any offsite actions resulted in traffic to the site. Many times with social media the activity happens somewhere else and there is no impact on the site.

Remember, this is activity from the social data hub partners, not the entire world of social media.

Offsite social activities vs. site traffic.

A plot of Google Analytics Data Hub Activities vs. Site Traffic. Is there any correlation?

Now let’s get a bit more specific about which social sources are driving traffic to the site. The final widget in this section is the top social sources based on their traffic. This is a classic segmentation of source. And I’m using bounce rate as a gauge to determine if people stick around or leave immediately.

Traffic from various social networks.

This widget lists traffic from the most popular social networks. It also uses bounce rate an a gauge of quality from each network.

On-site Social Activities

Moving on to on-site activities we can include a number of things. Onsite activity is about what content people are interacting looking at and content that people might share using some type of social button (Google +1, Tweet, Like, etc.) This is a good way to understand which social networks people like to share content on.

Onsite social actions.

A widget that measures on-site social actions. This shows how people are sharing content on your site.

I also like the value of visitors that are socially engaged. This segment of traffic is those that perform some type of social activity, like share using a tweet but or +1 button. I think a lot of people are trying to increase the sharability of their content. It leads to more traffic and, hopefully, more conversions. I would look for this metric to increase over time, depending on the tools that you give your visitors to share content.

Value of socially engaged traffic.

Are those that engage socially on a site worth more? If they are, can you somehow increase social activity?

Another way to look at social sharing is to focus on which content people share. And we can do that using a widget with the Social Entity dimension. I find that it’s important to consider how you are promoting content when looking at this widget. It may be that you are constantly promoting certain content.

Most socially shared content.

Which content gets shared on social media? This Google Analytics widget is a list of pages that get's shared on social media.

Another widget is the social traffic segmented by mobile device. Social and mobile are intimately connected. So much social content is consumed on various mobile devices. The goal of this widget is to get an understanding of which devices are popular with social users.

Social traffic from mobile devices.

I like to view social traffic based on mobile devices. Is one device more popular than another? Are certain social actions popular on certain devices?

Outcomes & Conversions from Social Media

The last group of metrics focus on the outcomes from social. It focuses on goals and ecommerce (if you’re an ecommerce site). This is where you’ll probably need to adjust some of the widgets based on your goal configuration.

It starts with the value of traffic from social. I like the Per Visit Value metric. It’s a good way to compare the economic impact of different sources of traffic. It’s a single number that puts a value on traffic from different places. Some good context for this metric is the amount of effort (i.e. time and money) you spend to generate traffic from social. Do you employ a “social media guru?” If so, how much do you pay them, and how does this translate into revenue?

Per-visit-value of traffic from social media.

Measuring the per-visit-value provides an easy way to compare the value of different traffic source. How does social media compare to other sources for your site?

Now revenue! Here’s a simple widget with the revenue from various social sources and the per visit value for each source. Keep in mind which social networks you are focused on and the effort you put into each.

Revenue from Social Sources

Tracking revenue from your social sources is critical. Are you getting a return on your investment?

NOTE: The one thing that I wish I could add to the dashboard is the Assisted Conversions metric for social. So often social media influences conversions higher up in the funnel. Unfortunately you can’t add the Assisted Conversions metric to the dashboard.

Now for more outcomes: conversion rate for various social sources of traffic. Remember, you’ll need to configure this widget to reflect your specific goal configuration. And you can certainly add more widgets for your various conversion activities. I’m just measuring the conversion rate for people reading an article.

Conversion rate for various social sources.

Here's the conversion rate for various social sources. You can change this widget based on your goal configuration.

What would you put on a Google Analytics social media dashboard?

Remember, this is a shared dashboard, so you can add it to your Google Analytics account. You can keep it as-is or modify it to meet your needs.

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    1. says

      I like what you’ve built. One item on my Google Analytics Wish List is for them to permit the dashboard modules/widgets to be amended or captioned with text boxes so that we might include correlating insights alongside the data. Especially important once the dashboards are set to push out to internal/external team members.

    2. says

      its really awesome to see the Social media dashboard for google analytic tool .Thanks for sharing such a great information to us JUSTIN CUTRONI .

    3. Alexb says

      Hi Justin, greetings from a former VT’er! The link to your dashboard is broken? I keep getting a 404 error.

    4. says

      One way I’ve been thinking about getting the assisted conversions metric for social is to set a custom variable (visitor level) on visitors from a social source. This also gets around the whole 30-day look back with the social conversions/ multi-channel funnels reports.

      What are your thoughts Justin?

      • says

        @Jim: Using a CV will certainly get the assists into the dashboard. But I wonder if it’s worth sacrificing a custom variable just to get around the 30 days and to add the data to the dashboard. My gut tells me no. I think we need to make every piece of data available via the dashboard. That’s what it’s for. One potential workaround that I have not tried is adding the dashboard and the Social Assists report to a scheduled report.

    5. says

      Social media is becoming huge! Not only is it having an effect on SEO but its now a great way of building reputation. In my niche (finance) its not a main source of traffic however for tech blogs its a very helpful tool. Thanks for sharing this dashboard, I’m sure to use it in the future.

    6. says

      Wow what a post, v impressed with the generosity of sharring this, a bespoke socail media analytics dasboard without all the hard work of setting one up, thank you :-)

    7. says

      This is awesome – just what I was looking for. I was really struggling setting up custom widgets for social channels for some reason. Thanks you very much – shall be spreading the link socially!

    8. says


      Is there a way to find out if the different social media sources are pointing to one specific URL? Or a specific link on a page?


      • says

        @VJ: Yes – kind of. You won’t be able to find every single site, but a few. Start with the Traffic Sources > Social > Data Hub Activity. This is a list of Social sites that are reporting some type of action on your page URLs. The social data hub does not include social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

        Then try the Traffic Sources > Social > Trackbacks report. This is a list of other sites, including blogs, that have links to your site.

        Hope that helps!


    1. […] Google Analytics provides so much great information to marketers, but if your focus is on social media, you may only need a small fragment of what it can offer. That’s where custom dashboards come in — they offer the ability to select just the metrics you need and nothing more. Here’s a great start for a social media-focused dashboard. […]

    2. […] Google Analytics provides so much great information to marketers, but if your focus is on social media, you may only need a small fragment of what it can offer. That’s where custom dashboards come in — they offer the ability to select just the metrics you need and nothing more. Here’s a great start for a social media-focused dashboard. […]

    3. […] Google Analytics provides so much great information to marketers, but if your focus is on social media, you may only need a small fragment of what it can offer. That’s where custom dashboards come in — they offer the ability to select just the metrics you need and nothing more. Here’s a great start for a social media-focused dashboard. […]

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