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Successful social sharing part 2

Social media engagement: what’s the impact on conversions?

Likes, shares and comments are useful indicators of social media engagement. But is your social media content actually driving traffic to your website? And are they converting when they’re there?


Social media success is never an exact science, but there are ways to dramatically increase your chances of success. The tips in this blog will help you to:

  • Identify what users are doing once they click on a link posted on social media.
  • Assign (attribute) credit to social media’s role in conversion more accurately.
  • Assess and prove the return on investment (ROI) of your social media marketing strategy.

The key to social media engagement: do your posts have the ‘shareability’ factor?

Whether you’re sharing an image, infographic, video or link to a blog, you need to put as much thought into the copy you use in your post as you would in your blog, or any other content you create.

People interact with and share social posts that resonate with them on an emotional level, reinforce how they want to be perceived, reflect their values and beliefs, and, ultimately, helps to strengthen their own relationships. As with everything in marketing: understand what’s important to your audience and tailor your approach to tap into it.

Here are some other effective tactics for social engagement:

  • Identify which social platforms are most appropriate for your business, industry and target audience.
  • Publish unique, customer-focused content. Good content is the foundation of any successful online marketing campaign. On social media you have a very limited window to capture your audience’s attention; social media content has a short shelf-life as you’re competing with thousands of other businesses and individuals in a fast-moving medium.
  • Give people a reason to engage. It must be immediately clear why your post is relevant to your target audience, and inspire them to take the action you want them to (whether this is to
    read, watch, share your posts, and/or click on your link). Are you offering a free solution to a problem, inviting them to participate in a poll, addressing a topical issue? Make that clear, and make them intrigued to find out more.
  • Use hashtags to make it easy to discover your content. Look at what hashtags influencers in your industry are using; search for trending hashtags, and see if you can relate them back to your industry, or create your own s to track specific social media marketing campaigns.
  • Engage with your audience. Social media isn’t designed for one-way communication. Participate in discussions, start conversations and comment on others’ posts.
  • Include high-quality images and/or video. According to Twitter, Tweets with images generate three times more engagement than basic text updates, those with GIFs more than six times, and those including video nine times more.

Each platform’s native analytics give you a snapshot of how your posts are performing – including basic reach, engagement and ‘shareability’ metrics. They also give you a picture of your audience and follower demographics.  Our eBook, A Social Media Marketer’s Guide to native Analytics, shows you how to get the most of the insights functions within four top social channels used by marketers: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Are my social media posts actually sending traffic to my website?

Find out the number of visits to your site from social media using Google Analytics’ (GA) Social Overview Report (Acquisition>Social). You can track:

  • Sessions: total number of times someone interacted with your site overall in the given time period you select.
  • Sessions via social referral: total number of times someone interacted with your site via one of your social platforms.
  • Percentage of social sessions by platform. In the example below, you can see that Facebook is by far the biggest driver of traffic to our client’s site, at almost two thirds.
social media overview in Google Analytics

This view also gives you a snapshot of  how your social media content is translating into tangible action, such as spending money or becoming a lead.

social media overview in Google Analytics view 2
  • Conversions: the total number of conversions that took place on your site in this time period.
  • Contributed social conversions: conversions that social media helped with. In other words, these visitors came to your site from social media at least once, but may have used another traffic source before converting. An example is if someone clicks on a link in Facebook and visits your site to read a blog, but leaves before converting (for example, downloading a
    guide). Then that person returns a few days later, this time not directly from social media and makes the download.
  • Last interaction social conversions: these are all the conversions that were produced directly from a social traffic source. These visitors came to you from social media and completed one of your goals within the same visit.

How is social engagement contributing to my site’s overall traffic?

Use the Network Referrals Report (under Acquisition>Social) – this shows you the number of visits via social in blue, against overall traffic in orange, which allows you to put your visits from social into a little more context

social media engagement network referrals report google analytics

Further down, this view allows you to compare at a glance the performance of each of your social networks (as well as those you’ve tagged as ‘social’ in UTM tracking), against other channels that have driven traffic to your site. It also means you can see what they’ve been doing on your site once they’ve got there…

What content are my visitors consuming when they get to my website?

Again, using the Network Referrals Report (Acquisition>Social), you can see, and filter, by channel:

  • Sessions: as we’ve seen before, the number of visits to your site via that channel within the given time frame.
  • Page views: the number of pages that were viewed from visits via that channel within the given time frame (including repeated views of a single page).
  • Average session duration: the average time spent on your site via that channel within the given time frame.
  • Pages/session: the average number of pages visited per session via that channel within the given time frame.
network referrals for social media in network analytics

If you click on a given social network, you can dig a little deeper. You can see the link they followed from social media and the sessions, page views, average session duration, and pages/session for each ‘shared URL’. This gives you insight into how visitors from social media consume your content, eg, how long visitors from each social network and the type of content that resonates with your audience on each channel.

Which pages on my website are getting the most traffic from social media?

Use the Landing Pages Report (Acquisition>Social). Here, you can identify which pages on your site get the most attention with social media traffic (click on the the links to see the specific platforms the traffic came from), and help you plan future social media content that will also engage, drive traffic, and convert visitors into leads and sales.

social media landing pages in google analytics

What is social media’s role in the wider conversion process?

Are visitors doing what you want them to do when they get there from social (ie, are your social CTAs working)?

  • Start by telling GA what actions on your site you consider a conversion to be by setting up Goals (and UTM tracking on your links to track them).
  • Assign a monetary value to each Goal if you want GA to calculate the value of your social conversions, or have eCommerce tracking set up.

To dive a bit deeper, and assign credit to social media’s role in conversion more accurately, go to Acquisition>Social>Conversions. By clicking Assisted vs Last Interaction Analysis, you can see:

  • Assisted conversions: the number of conversions for which this channel appeared on the conversion path, but was not the final conversion interaction.
  • Assisted conversion value: the value of the conversions assisted by this channel (this isn’t populated in the example below because no values have been assigned to the conversions in this account).
  • Last click/direct conversions: the number of conversions for which this channel was the final conversion interaction.
  • Last click/direct conversion value: the value of the conversions for which this channel was the final conversion interaction (again, no values have been assigned to Goals in the example).
  • Assisted/last click or direct conversions: a value close to 0 indicates that this channel functioned primarily as the final conversion interaction. A value close to 1 indicates that this channel functioned equally in an assist role and as the final conversion interaction. The more this value exceeds 1, the more this channel functioned in an assist role.
social media conversion paths

GA shows you by default the conversion data for all of your Goals. If you want to narrow it down to a specific Goal or Goals, go to the very top of the report and choose from the dropdown menu.


This has been a whistlestop tour of how you can use the data freely-available to you through Google Analytics to measure how social engagement contributes to activity on your website and leads to conversions. 

Get an even clearer picture of how social media impacts your business and why it’s worth the investment (including practical exercises to help you to develop your strategy) download our Social Media ROI Workbook – it’s free!



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