social media how toYou have a website and you are building traffic to it, but what do you know about your visitors?

Do you know where they come from, how engaged they are with your website or if they have converted as a reader, subscriber or customer?

You can see all of these insights for free using Google Analytics.

Why Google Analytics?

Google Analytics allows you to see where your visitors come from and if they engage with your content or leave immediately. Additionally, you can set up goals that match your business goals and measure if visitors are meeting those goals.

With Google Analytics, you can get valuable insights about your visitors and in this article I am going to show you how to track social media traffic.

This will help you identify the social media sites that send the most visitors back to your website to see which one needs more attention.

You will also discover how you can learn more about the visitors who come to your site from Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or other social media sites.

Additionally, you will learn how to use a feature called Advanced Segments to segment your social media traffic and see how those visitors behave on your site.

Getting Started With Google Analytics

Before we dive into this, I want to make sure that you use the latest version of Google Analytics.

To do this, just login into your Google Analytics  account and click the New Version link from the top left section of your screen.

new version google analytics

Click the New Version link to switch to the latest version of Google Analytics.

Once you do that, you are all set up and ready to follow the rest of this article.

Identify Your Main Traffic Sources

First you will need to discover what social media sites send the most traffic to your website.

To do that, go to the Traffic Sources section, select Sources and All Traffic.

Here you will be able to see a list with all of the websites that send traffic back to your site. Right now, you will need to identify which are social media websites and keep the first three in mind.

google analytics traffic

Identify the main 3 social media sites that send you traffic.

From this example you can see that Twitter ( is Twitter’s shortened URL), Hacker News and Facebook are the main social media sites that drive traffic.

For you, the most important may be Google+ or StumbleUpon or any other site where you have an active profile.

Create Advanced Segments

Once you have identified your main social media traffic sources, you can create Advanced Segments for those websites and segment the traffic to individually analyze your visitors.

You can also set up multiple Advanced Segments and compare them to see the difference among them.

To make this easier to understand, I will show you how you can set up Advanced Segments for Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to compare their traffic and for multiple other social media sites to better analyze traffic.

Twitter Traffic Segment

You can create an Advanced Segment for Twitter to see how it compares with Facebook and Google+.

To do this, simply click on Advanced Segments from any Google Analytics report and click + New Custom Segment.

create advanced segments

Create Advanced Segments to individually analyze your visitors by traffic source.

Then add a name for your segment and start to include as sources the following containing terms that might send traffic to your website:

  • hootsuite
  • tweetdeck

As you can see, there are multiple filters that should be added using an OR statement because different Twitter clients might send traffic that will not get tagged as being from or

While adding these filters, you will see that if you have traffic that matches, Google Analytics will insert the filters using an autocomplete function.

This way you can be sure that all the filters you apply actually match visits.

twitter segment

Create a Twitter traffic segment to see how the inbound traffic from Twitter compares with other social media sites.

Once you add all your filters, press the Test Segment button to see if everything is set up correctly. If so, save your segment.

Facebook Traffic Segment

Next on the list is the Facebook segment, which can be created exactly as you did for Twitter—just change the filters to:

facebook segment

Create a Facebook traffic segment and include as a source both and the mobile version

From my analysis, Facebook sends traffic as and if the traffic comes from mobile devices. To make sure that your filter will match, you can simply use “facebook.”

Google+ Traffic

The Google+ segment is similar to Twitter and Facebook, but simpler. All you have to do is just filter:

google plus segment

Create a Google+ traffic segment to analyze only the traffic that comes from Google+.

Google+ sends all traffic from You may also see traffic from, but do not include it, because that is something different.

Social Media Traffic

Now that you know how to create individual segments, you can create a more comprehensive segment that analyzes traffic from more than one social media outlet.

You can use this type of segment to include the traffic from StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, LinkedIn and any other social media site.

As an example, below are some of the sites you can include in this segment using the OR statement:

  • hootsuite
  • tweetdeck
  • linkedin
  • youtube
  • reddit
  • digg
  • delicious
  • stumbleupon
  • ycombinator
  • flickr
  • myspace
  • popurls

A simpler version of this segment would be to select as a condition Matching RegExp, which will use a regular expression to detect the traffic that matches your condition.

The advantage of this will be the fact that you will not need to type in 10-20 conditions for this segment, but just one.

To create this segment, select Matching RegExp as condition and then type in brackets “()” the social media sites that send traffic to you, separated by a vertical bar “|”, just like the code below:

(twitter||hootsuite|tweetdeck||facebook||linkedin|youtube| reddit|digg|delicious|stumbleupon|ycombinator|flickr|myspace|popurls)

You will need to make sure that there are no spaces in this code.

social media segment

Use a Regular Expression to create only one condition which includes all the social media sites from where you might get traffic.

You can also include other sites that send traffic to you.

Understanding Social Media Traffic

Now you have four powerful segments that will help you get more insights about your visitors.

You can use the first three to see how they compare to each other and if there are any big differences among them.

You can use the fourth to see how visitors who come from social media sites behave on your own site and how they convert.

We will cover more about this in future articles, but to start you should have a look at the Audience reports to determine their behavior, how engaged they are with your site (how much time they spend reading your content), how frequently they come to your site or the ratio of new visitors to returning visitors.

The Content section is the one that you should check next to see the pages your social media peers visit on your site, your site speed for their connection or what they search for on your website.

For example, you can see from the screenshot below that the visitors coming from Twitter (even if they have a higher number of visits) are less engaged with the content of the website, because the majority spend less than 10 seconds on the website.

social engagement

Use Advanced Segments to identify which social media sites send you valuable visitors.

You can use the above segment to compare the traffic from multiple social media outlets and see where you should invest more time, which one sends you more engaged visitors, visitors that convert and much more.

With the more comprehensive segment or if you apply only one segment, you can actually filter the traffic and see all of the Google Analytics reports for that specific segment.

This helps you identify visitors’ behavior and engagement for that specific segment of traffic.

Over to You

These are just a couple of examples, but I would love to see what other experiments you’ve done.

What do you think? Which of these examples have you successfully implemented? Plus, what other tutorials about Google Analytics would you like to see on Social Media Examiner? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • Marc Ensign

    Great post!  Thanks for being so thorough with the instruction and including the step by step AND screenshots!  I’m going to mess around with this a bit this week and I’ll be back with some experiments!

  • Eugen Oprea

    That sounds great, Marc! Let us know your insights.

  • Nick Robinson

    Great overview Eugen! Would love to see some ninja tricks for E-commerce reporting. Basically, my problem right now is that my client wants to see week over week/month over month reporting by channel, and I know how to get this info BUT I run into the problem over having to sift through a hundred different social sites. Can I regroup them into a medium called social media rather than referral? That would make my life so much easier!

  • Sam Scholfield

    This was very timely. Thank you Eugen. I have now implemented this on my website. Do you know if there is a way to show the segments along with the default overview? Thanks

  • Allenbrayan

    These tips are really great for users because recently, Google had changed the Google Analytics features. I should apply these tips in my Analytics account and get the deep information about sources whether they come from social networking or web 2.0.

  • Moin Shaikh

    Awesome tutor Eugen, i did know about google analytics unveiling social tracking in new interface but haven’t found sound yet easy howto on it. I tried to do it using google’s own tutor but was tired to get desired result. Thank to your easy to understand language. However i have yet not used your words, i will start integrating social tracking using your this how to and will get back to you with end result. Meanwhile, please accept my sincere thanks :)

  • Richard Fernz

    Thanks Eugen !
    This really is a nice post.I was almost unaware of the awesome features of the new version of Google Analytics…thanks:) again.

  • $44796859

    Great advice, thank you for sharing!

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  • Josepha Haden Chomphosy

    Wouldn’t it be the case, if you’re matching RegEx, that would need additional characters to make it function properly?

    1. The period is a wildcard character which would pull in any single digit, number, letter, etc.
    2. RegEx is greedy and without an anchor character would gather any URL that contained “” (IE or

    I think you’d have to anchor the to the front of the Source and also escape the period with a backslash, isn’t that correct?

  • Eugen Oprea

    Nick, I might cover that in a future article.

    However, in the meantime, you can create the [Social Media Traffic] segment above and report only the traffic that comes through social media.

    I think that it’s exactly what you need, but let me know if you need something else.

  • Eugen Oprea

    Good to hear that Richard!

    Advanced Segments is not actually a new feature, but we always discover new things, don’t we? :)

  • Eugen Oprea

    Moin, I am happy to see that the articles helps you and please come back and report your findings.

    I am sure that everyone wants to learn more and the best way is through case studies.

  • ggcats

    Thanks for this guide. I’ve been a little confused on understanding google analytics & this breaks it down so it’s easier to follow. I’m saving this post so I can refer back to it. 

  • Carly Langlois Crow

    Great Post! Thank you.

  • The Eden Projects

    We’ve been using these features to measure traffic to our site for the past 60 days and it’s been very helpful.  While we’re a non-profit that’s focused on reforestation, it is extremely beneficial to us to know where folks are coming from & what content seems to resonate with them. 

  • Ram Babu SEO

    thanks eugen, great job on this to show us how we can set up to know our social media traffic. it is necessary to keep tracking all sort of traffic coming from our external sources!

  • Chik Quintans

    Awesome post. I always learn something new!

  • Eugen Oprea

    Thank you Sam!

    Yes, you can apply up to 4 segments and if one of them is [All visits] -> select it from the “Default Segments”, you will see the segments along with the default overview.

  • Eugen Oprea

    Definitely! That sounds good.

  • Sarah Arrow

    Fab post as always Eugen :)

  • Sam Scholfield

    Ah great. Not sure how I missed that. Thank you.

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  • Paul

    Great post thanks for this info.

  • Helen

    OMG – thank you so much! Great post and “how to” on google analytics.  Everything is data/metrics driven now and this post is tremendous.

  • Susan M Steele

    Super easy and helpful.  Can’t wait to try this with some of my clients!

  • elizabeth Maness

    Thanks for the tops .. I’m always scratching my head when I look at google trying to fogure some of it out! Thank you for the awesome social media tracking tips!

  • Steve

    Analytics is a very poweful tool as we always learn new things about it. Thank you for today’s lesson! :)


  • Toni

    Is there a way to add a widget to the dashboard for just these segments?

  • Eugen Oprea

    Josepha, thank you for pointing this out!

    I have tested this and you are right, needs to me added as “” so it can matches only that URL.

  • Eugen Oprea

    Hey Toni, you can add the reports you want on your dashboard (traffic sources for example) and then edit the widgets and apply filters to segment this type of traffic.

  • Eugen Oprea

    Thank you, Sarah!

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  • Rebecca Metz

    This is super helpful! Any idea how to set up a segment for pinterest? I guessed, but am not sure. Thanks!

  • Pravash Dey

    Brilliant post Eugen…legends like you makes things simpler and easier. I hope its much clear now for digital marketers. It definitely needs a retweet and I owe you a pint next time in London 😀 

  • Susan Newman

    Eugen, Great post. I look at my Analytics quite often (almost everyday). It tells me so much about my visitors and my own content. I learn which posts are read more than others which helps me know what to write more about. I also track where they go from one page to another, and the exit rate and from which pages, which tells me how interested they are on particular topics. How can we be serious about what we’re doing without studying it’s effectiveness?
    Thanks, Susan

  • Kalen’s Internet Resources

    Those are some awesome tips Eugen. Another way to expand on that would be to add Google Analytics to your social media profiles themselves. That way you can see what traffic they are receiving and how much of it actually funnels through to your main site. That way you can get a new idea of how well your social profiles are optimized for driving traffic back to your main site.

  • Siti Sarah Ariffin

    Great info! Very very helpful! Cheers

  • Guest

    Thank you for sharing, it is an amazing post, especially the way you have explained it step by step.

  • rc tank

    After making use of any of the method or source one need to be sure for outcome from that particular source.  And we all know that google analytics is the best tool to observe our performance. And when making use of social media for getting results then it is more crucial to make analysation. Thanks for providing such guidance to check performance with social media.

  • Amol Pomane

    Ohh thanks for such a savoir work :)

  • Babynology Babynames

    Really very useful for measuring traffic for my website Babynology from other social media sources. Thanks.

  • Cathy Presland

    Eugen – GREAT article! I think a lot of people don’t go beyond the basics and it’s really important to dig in to what the engagement is so we can get an idea of visitor quality. I find my social media traffic sticks around a lot longer than some of my other traffic – interesting to see it’s not the same for everyone.


  • Jeroen Kruisweg

    Thanks for this great post. Put it in to practise right away, and next week we’ll bring our clients up to speed.

  • Paolo

    Awesome, thanks Eugen.  I have implemented your step by step features and am already seeing the results!  Excellent, I look forward to your future posts.

  • iperlaura

    Very useful postr Thanks

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  • Eugen Oprea

    Thank sounds great Paolo! I am really happy to hear that you see that you are taking action!

  • Eugen Oprea

    Great work, Jeroen!

    Come back next week and let us know what they say. :)

  • Eugen Oprea

    Thanks Cathy!

    In my opinion, the engagement of the visitors that come from social media depends on the efforts that we put into engaging them before coming to our sites.

  • Frankis

    Hi Eugen,
    Awesome article. I am quite novice to social media marketing and hope this information will help me better in future as I did not know the varied names of social sites such as Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

  • Joel Black

    Thanks for these instructions.  Im going to try and set this up.

  • Cindy Meilink

    Thanks for sharing. I’m always looking for new and better ways to access data and this is a great tool.

  • Rouven Kasten

    Is there a way to do this with PIWIK?

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  • Herve Kabla

    Just one comment: filtering source containing should be enough to cover both mobile and non mobile.

  • Eugen Oprea

    Thanks Rebecca!

    Yes, just create a segment for in the same way I did the one for Google+.

    Let me know how it goes.

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  • Marianna Marcucci

    Really useful, thank you. I was looking for a better way to analyze social media traffic and your’s a great suggestion. I’ve already had some surprises with Pinterest! Marianna 

  • Charles Miske

    wowsers, had to go run and check this out right away – thanks!

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  • Guest

    Thanks a lot. It is so easy when somebody can show you how to do!

  • Jenn Griffin

    great post! I just set this up and am seeing zero visits from all 4 segments. Does it look at past stats or does it just work on stats going foward?

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  • Víctor (Vivir Europa)

    Firstable thank you for this great article that has given me some great insight. 

    Once said that the mistake about the use of actually happens both with the regular expression and with the regular way of creating the segment itself. It will include, for instance, all traffic from blogs from too.

    What I’ve done to correct this is not to use “” since the URL are not exactly that, but Instead you can use Begin with in the drop down menu for the twitter segment, not Contains.

    The regular expression was a bit trickier, but thanks to google help I realized that ^ is used to talk about the beginning of the url, thus if you use ^ you could have something like this that seems to give the desired result:

    (twitter|^|hootsuite|tweetdeck||facebook||linkedin|youtube| reddit|digg|delicious|stumbleupon|ycombinator|flickr|myspace|popurls)

    I hope I didn’t make any mistakes at all.

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  • Orange Chen

     Nice article, Eugen, May I add you on facebook ? I would like to hear more insights about google analytics from you.

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  • Treevas1

    extraordinary info very useful. sometimes we do not know how to use it. but now I can try it my self

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  • PHP Web development

    For e-commerce people ( FASHION) , Pinterest is best tool for selling..

  • Fusion

    Great post, very informative!

  • Foxabroad

    This is great, I’m taking a course on social media and we have to submit a report using Google Analytics – I’m sharing this article with my class since it gave me a little more clarification on what we need to do. Thanks!

  • Eugen Oprea

    Thank you!

    Let me know if you have any questions.

  • Eugen Oprea

    Thanks! You can follow the link in my bio and get my free course and all articles that I publish.

  • Eugen Oprea

    Hey Jenn, make sure that you actually receive traffic from those websites and then double check the way you have configured the segments.

    Advanced Segments do work for past traffic, actually for any date that has traffic data.

  • Eugen Oprea

    Excellent to hear that! Keep tracking traffic and you will get more insights.

  • Eugen Oprea

    I agree with that Herve. You can apply only

  • Eugen Oprea

    Rouven, I haven’t checked this into detail, but you can have a look here: 

  • Guest

    Hi Eugen-
    per your comment: “For example, you can see from the screenshot below that the visitors
    coming from Twitter (even if they have a higher number of visits) are
    less engaged with the content of the website, because the majority spend
    less than 10 seconds on the website.” I think you’ve got that reversed? When I read the screen grab it looks like 100% of the G+ users spend ten seconds or less on the site, while only 77% of Twitter users do. So I’d read that as G+ users are the least engaged. Twitter users in fact have the highest percentage of spending 11-20 seconds according to that graph versus the other two. Can you clarify?

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  • Jen Hames

    Fantastic tutorial – your instructions were very easy to follow. And so useful! I’m looking forward to using Google Analytics in a whole new way, thanks to you.

  • Eugen Oprea

    I did created a couple rounds of screenshots and from here the confusion.

    Yes, in this screenshot, judging by the number of visits and the percentages, you can tell that Twitter visitors are more engaged than those who come from Facebook or Google+.

  • Eugen Oprea

    Hi Victor,

    In this case it depends at what you are looking.

    The example I show above refers at the traffic source and not the referral path (which I agree that it’s

    However, the source is and if you use “” in your regular expression you will see that works.

    Please test it and let me know your insights.


  • Eugen Oprea

    Thank you, Jen!

  • Fran

    This article was fantastic. Thank you! 

    Is Google Analytics able to track the number of impressions on Twitter, Facebook pages, Google+, YouTube & LinkedIn or would I have to use Hootsuite or a similar social media monitoring platform to run reports on that kind of data? From what I can see Google Analytics only seems to provide information about the social media referrers to the website. 

    (I’m a bit of a novice to Google Analytics though so I don’t know its full capabilities.)

  • Murthy SEO

    Excellent Post! I am interesting to read this article based on the explanation with examples. Thanks for sharing your post.

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  • Anjali Vishwakarma

    Loved it.

    Thanks Eugen for this nice Article. There are thousands of people in market who are still unaware of Social Media Traffic Integration through Google Analytics. I am sure your post will help to many.

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  • Eugen Oprea

    Google Analytics helps you see data only where the tracking code is placed, thus on your website.But if you are looking to get more insights about the behavior of your followers and fans, yes, you should look into HootSuite, Sprout Social and Facebook Insights for pages.You can also have a look at tools like Radian6 or Trackur.

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  • StephanieWarthe

    Wonderful post, just went through the steps and did everything. Once the segments are set up, is there a way to tell how they convert against eachother? I don’t see an area that brings in goals…

    Also, for the LinkedIn segment, do you recommend using just “linkedin” as a source, or using all of the automatic dropdown suggestions that GA provides? (.ca, .com, etc.)

  • Eugen Oprea

    Stephanie, if you apply multiple segments you will see how they compare to each other.

    As for LinkedIn, using just “linkedin” as a source will be fine.

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  • B’wire Consulting

    Though I knew that Google analytics is a great way to trace your traffic sources, but your blog serves everything in a platter, that too well organized.

  • Cindy Spencer

    Excellent article and very helpful.  How about Pinterest?  Would we just put in to track that source of visitors?

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  • Tapnet

    Excellent Article Great way to Track Traffic from Google Analytical

  • Eugen Oprea

    Cindy, you are right. That would be the way to track it.

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    This is awesome. Thank you for the help.

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  • Abdulla

    This is sooooooooooo awesome, Thank=)

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  • Chris Mcfc Todd

    If you use ‘containing’ and add ‘’ things like ‘’ will come up in your segment.

    Use ‘Exactly Matching’ to avoid this. I’ve looked at other errors but can’t find any.

    Great post!

  • FC

    I have been
    using Google Analytics and it is driving immense traffic from visitors. You can
    keep a close track of who are visiting your website, the time they spend on
    your website and convert them into your potential leads. With the advanced
    segments, you can directly divert the traffic to your Twitter account.

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  • Tina Lynch

    This is great, thanks for breaking it down into easy steps. I’m now trying to work out how to apply my goals and objectives, a lot of information but it’s definitely clearer after reading this.

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  • Chrissie Garber

    Thanks so much for this helpful guide, I will be writing a blog how to on my adventures with google analyics, 

  • Chrissie Garber

    (hit the reply button to fast)  — and would love to use your article as a reference!  

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  • Leslievstrickland

    If I have a link I want to track with Google Analytics UTM parameters, but I it to make it short, will the traffic be attributed to the source in the UTM parameters or to

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  • Mohamed BELMAAZA

    Hi Marc, 

    Very interesting post indeed, however I have some issues in implemeting those advanced segments. After creating them following the tags you proposed, I still can’t have the same percentage of traffic as the one google Analytics shows me on “Traffic Source”. Is it a matter of tagging ? 

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  • Bad Steve

    Great tips here Eugen! I honestly didn’t know you could do this stuff, it’s great. It shows that Google are planning on adding more social elements into their Algorithms.

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  • Apsara

    Great stuff! I was wondering if there is a way to track who is visiting, will help in lead generation later

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  • David Abramson

    Nice, this looks like something I’d eventually like to setup. Thanks for the tutorial.

    Q: Is there a way to see which Facebook pages or Twitter accounts sent the traffic to you? I had a post that saw a spike in traffic from Facebook which makes me think that another page shared it, and I’d like to go see who it is and thank them for the share.

    Thanks again!


  • Sergiu Poenaru

    Great article, Eugen. Yet I’m interested in picking your brain a bit. Not sure if this is possible but judging that facebook traffic comes from a specific page, let’s say a “Fansite page Breaking Bad” and “Fansite page Dexter”, is there a way to see in GA where exactly people came from?

    More clearly, a way to see a full referral path on social? Is this possible?

  • Eugen Oprea

    Thanks so much, Sergiu! That is a really good question. Unfortunately, the only way to see that is only if you use UTM campaign parameters for the links you share. You can read more about how to set them yo here:

  • Eric Ziengs

    Great article, thanks! I’m interested in measuring the other way ->> how many of our articles are shared from the website onto various social media. Any tricks and thoughts?

  • Eugen Oprea

    You are most welcome, Eric!

    If you want what are the articles shared on social media, you can use a tool called BuzzSumo, that will show you articles shared up to 6 months, the main social networks, the numbers of shares and the people that shared those articles:

    Hope this helps, but please let me know if you have other questions.

  • Eddie

    Does the above tracking method track traffic from social media posts with GA parameters? Or does this exclude posts?

  • Amy Hagerup

    I totally need to implement this. Thanks so much. I love the specific steps and the visuals. Splendid!

  • Guest

    A pretty great post. I have heard ikeymonitro is such a good tracking app. Users may try this.

  • Mary McDwell

    A pretty
    great post. I have heard ikeymonitor is such a good tracking app. Users may
    try this.

  • Magdalena Spyra

    Great Article, although from 2003 its still actual. I was looking for that information about filters. Thank you Eugen, your articles are also read in Poland.

  • Lisa @ Fun Money Mom

    I know this is an older post but I’m taking a chance that you’ll still catch my comment. I’ve got a post that is doing extremely well today and I’ve determined that most of the views have been referred by facebook. Is there a way to find out who on FB shared my post? I’ve gone through all of analytics and can’t seem to get that info.