Understanding How Google Analytics Reports Facebook Traffic

Google Analytics reports website traffic that comes from Facebook as referral trafficwhich means that a visitor landed on your website after clicking an inbound link from another website. Your website visitors that came from Instagram, Twitter and Yelp are more examples of referral traffic.

You may notice that Facebook traffic shows up as different referral sources in Google Analytics in the Source/Medium report under ‘Acquisition. These might include:






There are many more Facebook referral sources that can show up in Google Analytics which can make accurate reporting on Facebook traffic a little bit tricky since you’ll have to remember to include all of the different sources.

In Google Analytics, you might find Facebook traffic reported under ‘Source/Medium’, ‘Referrals’, and ‘Social’.

Why The Need For So Many Different Facebook Referral Sources?

This is a great question. If the traffic is all ultimately coming from Facebook (and that’s probably how we want to report it anyway) why would we need reporting on types of Facebook referrals?

There are two main reasons:

Different Sub-Domains – Facebook is available on multiple sub-domains.

If a user finds you through the Facebook app on their phone, this would be reported as m.facebook.com. There are other subdomains from other countries that operate differently on mobile so that users aren’t charged for mobile data usage. This traffic is reported as another type of referral traffic.

User Protection – Facebook is concerned about user safety.

Facebook uses something called Link Shim’s that redirects outside traffic through an interim step that checks URL’s before a user lands on them to make sure they don’t land on a malicious site. Referral sources from Link Shim’s may show up as l.facebook.com (desktop) or lm.facebook.com (mobile).

Facebook Ads

Users that find you through Facebook advertising are reported a little bit differently. For example, if you share your website link on Facebook without any type of campaign tags – then traffic coming from these clicks is going to follow the structure as other types of Facebook clicks (like we’ve already covered).

Without a distinction, you won’t be able to analyze data from advertising vs. organic.

One way you can alleviate that issue is to direct particular links to a different page on your website. Use this landing page only for advertising via Facebook. That way, you will be able to see which pages are receiving traffic and you can determine which ads are helping generate leads.

Don’t forget that companies like Spot On Solutions are PROS at social media marketing and interpreting data in Google Analytics. If you need extra help or don’t want to waste your time trying to do your own marketing, our social media management team can help you grow your Facebook page with more likes, more followers, more engagement and activity. We can promote ads and help you track how your social media efforts are working and strategize to grow it more!

If you are tired of trying to do it on your own – contact our team today!

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