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How to Improve Social Sharing Using Google Social Interaction Analytics

A month ago fellow Search Agent +Charles Verhoeff [1] wrote an excellent blog post that outlined how to add floating social media buttons to a website [2]. The method he detailed has two big selling points; it’s visually unobtrusive and makes it incredibly easy for users to share content with their social graph.

Making content sharable is an important first step, but as with any activity in online marketing, it’s vital to test the results by collecting data and adjusting your strategy accordingly. After implementing floating buttons, wouldn’t you want to know which pages are being shared the most? Or to which social network readers were sharing your content? Or how you could use this data to increase clicks and conversions?

Enter Google’s Social Interaction Analytics [3]. Google provides guidance on implementation, but to spare others from having to parse through their typical Google-ese, we have summarized exactly how we added this feature to our analytics reports for The Search Agents blog.  

Social Interaction Analytics – What We Tracked

We decided to implement tracking for Facebook Likes, Tweets, and LinkedIn Shares. In order to do this, we had to add additional scripts to the primary tracking code on each page and then add scripts to the individual buttons.

Primary Tracking Code Additional Scripts:


<!– Google Analytics Social Button Tracking –>

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://app.tabpress.com/js/ga_social_tracking.js”></script>

<!– Load Twitter JS-API asynchronously –>



var twitterWidgets = document.createElement(‘script’);

twitterWidgets.type = ‘text/javascript’;

twitterWidgets.async = true;

twitterWidgets.src = ‘http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js’;

// Setup a callback to track once the script loads.

twitterWidgets.onload = _ga.trackTwitter;




<!– LinkedIn Share Button tracking–>

<script type=”text/javascript”>

function LinkedInShare() {

_gaq.push([‘_trackSocial’, ‘LinkedIn’, ‘Share’]);



Facebook Button Script:

<li><fb:like action=”like” colorscheme=”light” expr:href=”data:post.url” font=”arial” layout=”box_count” send=”false” show_faces=”false”><script type=”text/javascript”>_ga.trackFacebook();</script></fb:like></li>

Twitter Button Script:

<li><a href=”http://twitter.com/share” data-count=”vertical” data-via=”thesearchagents”>Tweet</a><script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js”></script></li>

LinkedIn Button Script:

<li><script src=”http://platform.linkedin.com/in.js” type=”text/javascript”></script>

<script type=”IN/Share” data-counter=”top”></script><script type=”text/javascript”>LinkedInShare();</script></li>


*Note – There is currently a bug with the LinkedIn API that is causing errors in reporting. This error causes every page load to count as a LinkedIn Share in reporting. You can follow a thread about the issue here [4].

Social Metrics in Google Analytics

Once social tracking was implemented, we were able to view the data by logging into Google Analytics and clicking Visitors > Social. This presented a dropdown menu with three options; Engagement, Action and Pages (keep in mind that LinkedIn data is incorrect in these screen caps).

Action – Social Actions


The Action tab presents users with an overview of social activity for the specified time period. It displays the type of action taken (Like, Tweet, +1, etc.), how many times each action was taken, and the percent of total actions for each type. Looking at this time period, Google’s +1 button was used more than the Like and Tweet button combined.


Action – Actions Per Social Visit


If you click the dropdown within the Action tab and select Actions Per Social Visit, you can see the average number of actions taken by users who clicked each button.




This is where we found the real meat and potatoes. By default it lists the ten pages with the most social actions, but you can view any URL on your website. This provided great insight into which of our pages are fostering the most social sharing and to which networks they are being shared.

Pro Tip – Compare social action data with traffic data to see how clicks to your website relate to sharing of your content. For instance, if a page with comparatively low traffic is receiving a high percentage of social actions, make sure it is featured prominently above the fold. Social data is telling you that users will share that piece of content, but traffic data is telling you that you need to facilitate people finding it!

Google Social Interaction Analytics – Takeaways

The inclusion of this data within Google Analytics allows online marketers to more easily see which content on their website is social friendly. Having this data will also allow online marketers to refine their content strategy more effectively, assuming they are asking the right questions.

Questions to ask:

How do you plan on using data? Let us know in the comments section below and, of course, don’t forget to share this article!


You can find +David Carrillo [8] on Google+ and on Twitter [9]. You can also find +Richard Schneider [10] on Google+ and on Twitter [11].


About David Carrillo

David Carrillo is an Earned Media Manager at The Search Agency where he assists clients executing holistic SEO and Inbound Marketing strategies that include audits and recommendations spanning content, promotions, architecture, social and analytics. Outside of the wonderful world of Inbound Marketing, David’s interests include technology, gadgets, gaming, sports, naps and general debauchery.

Follow David Carrillo on Twitter [9]

Follow David Carrillo on Google+ [16]