Many companies want to know what the impact of social media is on sales. Unfortunately, there is not a magic formula that will say “for every fan we get on social media, we’ll get XX in sales”. But, using some super cool tricks in Google Analytics will help make some reasonable assumptions about social media’s impact on sales.

For example, let’s say that you are selling widgets, and these widgets are only available for purchase by contacting your company. You write a blog about how cool your widgets are, listing out the features and benefits. You then provide a series of postings on social media, driving people to your blog about widgets (using tagged links, of course!). You also use some traditional methods like paid advertisements, etc. Over the next six months, your company sells 500 widgets. But how many of those came from social media?

Getting Dirty with the numbers!

For this very simple calculation, we will start by looking at Google Analytics for those tagged links. Can you make any assumptions based on this data? For example, can you see how many people came to your blog via these tagged links? Let’s say that 2000 people came to the blog about widgets via social media over the past six months. You filter out new and returning visitors to see that 1200 were new visitors. Drill down from there to look at what else these people did on your site. Did they look at the product information page for the widget that you included in your blog? Of course they did! 600 people looked at that page, which you can assume means they had some interest in purchasing your product. Still with me?? Good- cause we’re not done yet!

Ok- so you also know (from asking customers when they purchased) that 300 of the 500 widgets you sold were from a website lead. If you were doing a paid search campaign (ad words, etc), take out the number of conversions generated from that effort (found in your analytics information). In this example, 120 sales can be tied directly to a paid search campaign. That leaves 180 widgets sold via an online lead not related to paid search.

Educated Assumptions

At this point, you need to make some assumptions. You’ll want to filter out any leads you can tie into any organic keyword traffic based on your analytics reports. In this example, we are able to tie 30 sales back to organic search results. That leaves 150 sales that were generated from online leads that are not tied to AdWords or SEO campaigns. That means we can assume that 150 sales were generated from social media- or half of the sales from website leads. To determine the impact of social media on the bottom line, calculate 150 times the price of the widget.

Makes sense, right? (Yeah- clear as mud- I know…) This was a simple example of what your thought process can be for measuring social media sales- but obviously you can expand on it further depending on what you are trying to find out.

Take it further…

To take this a step further, you can create special landing pages that are only viewable when clicking on the link. Sure, if someone shares the link, the new person can view it, but the point of social media is to be shared so that’s okay too! You can also use a different phone number for each lead generation source via a landing page- but that can get a little messy depending on how many sources you want to track. If you are selling your product online, you can also set conversion goals within Google Analytics to provide some analysis for you.


Basically, almost anything online can be tracked. With a mix of offline metrics and online measurements, you can usually tie together an educated assessment of the impacts of social media. You can do it- it’s just not easy. But stick with it and eventually you’ll figure out what works best for you and your organization.

Christina Torri works with Social Media and Internet Marketing clients for Mindscape at Hanon McKendry