How to attribute Social Traffic in Google Analytics

How to attribute Social Traffic in Google Analytics

Here at GetSocial we’re lucky to have an incredible community of bloggers, website and business owners giving precious feedback about our product every day.

It was our user’s requests that lead us to recently improve the UX of our Content and Social Analytics (Part 1 and Part 2), among other changes.

One of the top insights we got from their feedback was that we needed to export better data to Google Analytics. And in an easy way, preferably.

After all, having 63% of our users using Google Analytics was a clear indication of opportunity.

To tackle this, we had two options:

  • Make small changes to our Google Analytics Integration (available on the Starter plan and above)
  • Rebuild our interaction with Google Analytics from scratch

Luckily for our users, we opted for the second.

Google Analytics + GetSocial for all

Last week we silently launched a feature for everyone (free plans too):

You can now see the traffic generated from each of your social share buttons right on Google Analytics. You can even track conversions from them!

This is available right away for all GetSocial users.

If you don’t have a GetSocial account, you can create one and try it. Go on, it’s free! 😉

That’s all?

Nope. We have a special treat for paying users.

But first, let me give you some context.

One of GetSocial’s most powerful features is Copy & Paste Share Tracking.

This adds a small string of characters to each of your page’s URLs so it will know when someone shares the link with a friend by copying and pasting the link.

It will also detect when a share is made through a private channel such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Email, SMS, etc.

It’s never enough to say that dark social shares represent between 60%-80% of the total. And it isn’t uncommon to see these numbers reaching 90%.

It’s like an iceberg: you can only see what is above water level.

Good, Ol’ Google Analytics can’t track this.

If you’re not tracking copy and paste shares (dark social) you’re clueless about a lot of social traffic.

The analogy is simple: would you buy a car just by knowing its color? Or a jacket by its size?

Me neither.

To help you eliminate this blind spot, we’ve added dark social tracking for every channel on Google Analytics:

Note: Let me just alert you that this feature is still in Beta and you might find a bug or two, but we’re working hard to improve it.

Track Conversions all the way

If you’re using Google Analytics and don’t have any Goals active*, you’re missing a ton of value.

You can assign goals to specific things visitors do on your website, such as:

  • View a number of pages
  • Enter your “Contact us” page
  • Create an account
  • Purchase a product
  • Spend X time on site

Every time a goal is met, GA counts it as a Conversion, and you track conversions to all your traffic sources.

This allows you to compare apple to apples when analyzing traffic sources, such as Organic, Search, Referral, Social, etc., and understand what is working best for you.

*If you want don’t have Goals active in you website, check this article. Otherwise, just keep reading.

With the Social Buttons and Dark Social data export mentioned above, you’ll be able to know when a share made on a social channel or messaging system led to a conversion.

Quick example for an eCommerce website:

While Facebook brings more traffic and revenue, the most profitable channel is Pinterest. This can be a great help when deciding where you’re going to spend money and time next.

With GetSocial you can get this kind of information for every visitor that arrived through a share, even those shares Google Analytics can’t track. Without GetSocial, all this info would be grouped together and you wouldn’t be able to measure each channel’s Return on Investment (ROI).


It’s better if you see it for yourself.

Have a great day!

Interested in knowing more about Dark Social & Analytics?

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João Romão is a founder & CEO at GetSocial.

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