Customizing Megalytic: Social Referral Traffic Widget

Published October 30, 2015
Whether you’re actively using social media or not (we do hope that you are), nearly all sites will find that they receive traffic and engagement stemming from social channels. This is because even if your brand isn’t active on social media, you can bet that your audience or customers are. To measure results from social media, Google Analytics provides a wealth of information about how much traffic each social network drove to your site, as well as how engaged those visitors were when they got there. Social referral data should always be included with your reports.
The Social Referral Traffic widget within Megalytic allows you to capture and report on social data, showing your boss or client how well each social channel contributed to the site’s overall performance.
In this post we will show you how to use Megalytic to show referrals from social channels.



Total Sessions by Social Network

When you first add the Social Referral Traffic widget to your report and select a Google Analytics view, you’ll see a bar chart showing Sessions by Social Network.


Megalytic Tracks Social Referral Traffic

This widget will show data not only from the top social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) but also from local review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor where social interaction also takes place. Essentially, any network that gets pulled into the Social section of Google Analytics will show up here.

In this example from a local restaurant site, you can see that Yelp traffic actually outranks Facebook traffic.

Once the widget has been added to your report, you can customize the metric used for measurement, as well as which social networks appear in the chart. Click the gear in the upper left to reach the widget options.

Under the “Metric” dropdown, you can now switch to a different metric from the default Sessions. For instance, you may want to show total Users or New Users, as opposed to showing Sessions (which can count the same Users coming back multiple times). In this case, we’ll select New Users to show a count of individuals who have discovered the site via social media.


Changing the metric being measured in Megalytic


Next, maybe you want to show exact numbers on the graph to provide precise data in your reporting. To show numbers at the top of each bar in the graph, check the box by “Display Values on Bars.”

In addition, maybe you only want to include certain social networks in your report—your client may specifically be concerned about seeing referrals from networks where they’re actively engaged in promoting their brand, or limiting to the top five. Use the “Series” dropdown to select the networks you’d like to include or exclude. Once you’ve finalized your selection, click “Apply to Report” to update the widget based on your edits.

Our final widget now shows a breakdown of New Users by the social networks we’ve chosen, customized with the values on bars. We can see that Yelp still ranks first, followed by TripAdvisor. This makes sense as many restaurant searches now originate from Yelp.


Measuring new users by social metric in Megalytic


Showing Social Referrals in a Line Chart

If you’d prefer not to use a bar chart, you can choose from among five other chart types to show social referrals. To change your chart type, click the appropriate icon at the top of the widget options.

For instance, you may want to use a line chart to show trends for social network traffic over time. Choose the first icon in the list to change the chart type. Next, you can customize the widget to show the social networks you want, as well as choosing your desired metric.

If you check the “Show as Percent” box, you can represent metrics based on the percentage of overall traffic that they represent, as opposed to the total volume of Users or Sessions for each. Once you’ve customized to your heart’s content, you can view the final widget.


Line chart of social referrals over time in Megalytic


Measuring Engagement by Social Network

Looking at total Sessions and Users from each social network will tell you how effective each channel is at driving traffic to your site. However, sheer volume of visits doesn’t give insight into the quality of those visits. You should also take into account how well those people are engaging with your site to uncover that. The Table View widget allows you to represent multiple engagement metrics, such as Avg. Session Duration and Pages/Session, alongside Users and Sessions for each network.

To choose Table View, select the last icon in the row under Chart Type. You’ll now see a table of your top social networks with a few default metrics.

We’ll customize the table by selecting the metrics of our choice from the Columns dropdown. In this case, we’re choosing to show Users, Sessions, Avg. Session Duration, and Pages/Session.

To sort based on level of engagement, we’ll move the Avg. Session Duration column to the far left. By default, Megalytic sorts by the metric in the first column. Click the “hamburger” icon on the left of the metric’s block and drag it to your desired place. Once we’ve chosen and arranged our metrics, we’ll apply our edits to the report and look at the updated widget. We now see the network with the highest Avg. Session Duration, TripAdvisor, at the top, noting that this site shows higher engagement than Yelp, which drove the most people.


Social referral traffic displayed in a table using Megalytic


Measuring Social Traffic to Specific Pages

When you’re heavily promoting brand content through social media, you want to know how well your efforts are driving people to actually read it. You can filter this widget to show how specific social networks have contributed to traffic for specific pages on your site, such as blog posts that you’ve linked to from Facebook and Twitter.

For instance, let’s take a look at how social visits contributed to a popular blog post on managing Google Analytics access for agencies. Within the widget options, we’ll create a filter by clicking “Add Filter.”

Next, we’ll choose to filter by Page Path, pasting in the blog post’s URL. Click “Apply” to finalize the filter creation.


Setting up a filter for social referrals in Megalytic


Note that we’re also choosing the Table Graph chart type, as a straightforward way to compare performance by two metrics. We’ll select Users and Avg. Session Duration to provide a picture of total unique individuals clicking through to read posts, along with average time they spent on the site.


Showing blog post traffic in Megalytic


From this data, we can see that Google+ drove the most Users to read this blog post. However, note that while LinkedIn drove minimal traffic, it also brought more engaged traffic than the top three channels, with these people spending an average of over a minute on the site.


Showing social traffic to your site in your reports is crucial to demonstrate the effectiveness of social media for your brand. The Social Referral Traffic widget within Megalytic provides a highly customizable way to show visits to your site from social networks. You can look at total Users and Sessions over time, as well as measure engagement by social network. In addition, filters allow you to show the precise data you’d like to portray in reports, such as showing traffic to specific blog posts.


When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:



It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.


Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.