Creating Social Media Traffic Reports in Google Analytics 4 & Looker Studio

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You can find the social media traffic report relatively easily in Google Analytics Universal Analytics. You might know that you can find a few default, out-of-the-box reports in Universal Analytics. 

You can find it in the left navigation under Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels and drilling down into social. You can go to Acquisition > Social > Overview or Network Referrals. 

It’s not so easy in Google Analytics 4. Social media traffic is rolled up into another traffic acquisition reporting in Google Analytics 4 as seen in this hour and forty-minute comprehensive tutorial for beginners. 

There are easier ways to find the social media traffic data in Google Analytics 4 and track campaign data. Looker Studio also offers a solution to easily bring the data together. 

A great thing about Looker Studio is you don’t have to switch screens so much unless you create multiple pages.

Google Analytics 4 lends itself more to analysis and data exploration. Looker Studio not only provides users with those abilities but it’s more friendly towards presenting data in the form of dashboards and reports.


You can either use an audience comparison–what is known as a segment in Universal Analytics–or you can create an Explore report using the free form option.

There are a few differences between the two options.

The audience comparison requires you to recreate it every time you remove it, and the process is quite manual as it requires a lot of clicks to create the reporting view, depending on how many social networks you want to include in your report.

Creating an Explore report provides you with data you can refer to again and again without having to recreate it. You can also add different data visualizations since Google Analytics 4 offers a couple of chart options in the Explore reports.

Watch the video:

Creating Audience Comparison for Social Media Traffic

At the top, click on “Add comparison”. For the dimension, type “Source”, go down and select “Session source”.

Adding audience comparison Google Analytics 4

Creating an audience comparison for social media traffic in Google Analytics 4.

In this method, you have to type in all of the social media networks that you want to include in your report.

For example, type in “facebook”, “instagram”, etc., select your sources, and click apply.

Configuring audience comparison Google Analytics 4

Configuring the comparison settings in Google Analytics 4.

You can compare this audience to other audiences or remove the other one(s) and only view the social media traffic in the reporting view.

The traffic acquisition report will show you metrics including but not limited to:

  • users from each of the social networks
  • the number of sessions
  • engaged sessions
  • average engagement time per session 

The issue with these audience comparisons is that they’re only good for when you want to analyze or to explore something on the spot. Something might pop into your head that peaks your curiosity. 

You’re not able to save these comparisons. One of the signs is that you’re not able to name the comparison. You’ll notice that when you over the comparison, it just gives you the conditions of the comparison.

If you remove the comparison that you added, it goes back to the default, all users. If you click on “Add comparison” again, see that you have to start over and re-configure the conditions.

Basic Settings for Social Media Explore Report in Google Analytics 4

The other option for obtaining social media traffic data is to create an Explore report. In the left menu bar with the icons, click on Explore, which is the second icon, and click on Free form to start a new exploration report.  

For the exploration name, name it something appropriate like, Social Media Traffic Report. Under the variable settings, add a dimension for source. Move it over to the rows in the tab settings.

Variables & Tab Settings Google Analytics 4

Configuring settings for Explore report in Google Analytics 4.

In the tab settings column, go down to filters and add one for source. Select the match type for regex, which stands for regular expression. Use the following regex for the source filter:


Tab Filter Google Analytics 4

Regex for social media sources.

The regex looks for top-level domains and subdomains for each of the values. If you want to add any other social media networks, do so in the second set of parentheses and click apply. 

The report updates the report and you can see the social networks that are bringing traffic to your web property with the number of active users for each in this time frame. You can name the tab appropriately.

Add Other Charts to Your Social Media Traffic Report

The free form report allows you to add some data visualizations. Duplicate your tab by clicking on the drop down next the the title of your tab and select duplicate.

 If you go to your tab settings and click on any of the icons to change the report.

Free form data viz Google Analytics 4

Visualization settings for free form report in Google Analytics 4.

There’s the donut chart so you can view the percentages of traffic by different social networks.

Google Analytics 4 donut chart

Donut chart in free form report for Google Analytics 4.

The line chart will give you social media traffic over time.

Google Analytics 4 line chart by Growth Learner

Line chart in free form report for Google Analytics 4.

If you have a lot of domains in your regex for the filter, the line chart can get pretty messy. It can still help you identify trends and attribute spikes or dips to certain events. 

The bar chart is similar to the data table except it simplifies the data table.

Google Analytics 4 bar chart by Growth Learner

Bar chart in free form report for Google Analytics 4.

Another good chart to add is the geo map chart.

Google Analytics 4 geo map by Growth Learner

Geo map chart in free form report for Google Analytics 4.

You can see the locations that are sending the most social media traffic.

Other Settings in Your Free Form Report

In the variables column, you can change the time frame and compare it to another date.

Google Analytics 4 date range by Growth Learner

Configuring time frame in free form report of Google Analytics 4.

You should also check the top right corner for sampling. If you hover over the right-most icon, you can view the sampling rate. A green icon with a checkmark indicates the report is based on 100% of all data.

Google Analytics 4 Free form Sampling by Growth Learner

Green sampling icon in the Google Analytics 4 free form report.

It’s also useful to look at the data around engagement. Add these to your report by clicking on the plus sign in the metrics section under the variables column. Search for “engage” and you’ll a list of engagement metrics:

Google Analytics 4 engagement metrics by Growth Learner

Search for other metrics and dimensions in the Google Analytics 4 free form report.

Finding Your Social Media Traffic Report

You can find your social media traffic report back on the Explore main page. That’s where it’ll live so you can keep coming back to analyze the data.

If you have configured the tracking in Google analytics 4, you can include reporting tabs for events and conversions.


Using Looker Studio to report social media traffic data is great because you can share it with anyone who might not have access to Google Analytics.

Watch the video:

You can copy the Looker Studio’s acquisition template and create a drill-down for this table. If you want to find a template for the acquisition report in Looker Studio, go to On your Looker Studio home page, click on “Template Gallery”.

Data Studio template gallery by Growth Learner

Looker Studio template gallery.

Click on the drop-down menu or expand the Google Analytics section. Then, click on “Google Analytics Acquisition Overview” template and make a copy of that report.

This template will probably have the data source for universal analytics, but you can connect your Google Analytics 4 data source to it. Make sure that your data source is GA4 for the metrics. 

Data Table For Social Media Traffic In Looker Studio

First, we’ll add sessions and then add the other metrics. 

For this “views-per-session” metric, we will create a field and type in “views/sessions”.

Views per session Data Studio metric by Growth Learner

Creating the views/session metric in Looker Studio.

Then, click on “apply” and create a field for average engagement time by using “User engagement/Sessions”.

Go back to the Data section, then, in the dimension area, switch on the toggle for “drill down”. Add a dimension and type in “source”. When you select a channel grouping and right-click “drill down”, you’ll see all the social media sources: Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and other organic social media referral sites.

If you want this table to only show social media traffic, you can remove all the other default channel groupings. Scroll down to filters in the data section and click on “add a filter”. 

You can name the filter “Social Media Traffic”. Next, click “Select a field” and type in “default”. This brings up ‘Session default channel grouping’. Select “Contains” as a condition, and type in “Social” in the next field.

Data Studio social media traffic filter by Growth Learner

Creating the social media traffic filter in Looker Studio.

This includes both organic and paid social traffic as well. 

Instead of requiring the user to drill down, you can remove the “Session default channel grouping” dimension and leave “Source” in the list. Then, turn off the drill-down toggle. 

Now, by default, it’ll list the social media traffic sources. Add a title that indicates what you’ve created. Copy the title and drag it down beside “Acquisition,” then change it to “Social Media Traffic” in bold font.

Donut Chart for Social Media Traffic Share in Looker Studio

As for the donut chart, make sure you’re in the data section on the right-hand side, and make sure your source is correct for your Google Analytics 4. Click on “Dimension”, type in ‘source’, Toggle off the drill-down option. 

For the metric, we’ll type in “Sessions” and add a filter. Then, choose the existing social media traffic filter that was just created. Now, it’ll display the share of traffic among social media sources.

Data Studio social media traffic donut chart by Growth Learner

Looker Studio social media traffic donut chart.

Under the Style section, the donut chart displays ten slices. Change the title to ‘Social Media Traffic Sources’ or ‘Share of Social Media Traffic Sources’. 

Line/Time Series Chart for Social Media Traffic Trends in Looker Studio

Now, change the time series chart (line chart) to show the social media traffic over time. Clear new users so you can use active users. 

Click on the breakdown dimension and type in “source”. Scroll down to the filters section, choose your social media traffic filter, click on Style, then scroll down to the legend section. 

If needed, you can remove an area to expand the line chart area. Click on the elements like the title and subtitle to expand them together. 

Change the width of the chart area so you can read the legend better. Now you can see the top social media traffic sources and see how they’re trending over time. You can change the title and call it “Social Media Traffic Over Time.”

Social Media Traffic Time Series Chart in Data Studio by Growth Learner

Social media traffic time series chart in Looker Studio.

Bar Chart for Social Media Traffic Data in Looker Studio

If you’re creating a bar chart from scratch, you should click on “Add a chart”, and select the “horizontal bar chart”. If there’s already an existing chart that you want to change, you can change the option with the drop-down on the right-hand side and select the bar chart option.

Then, collapse that area, and type in “source” for the dimension option. Change it from “date” to “source”. Remove the breakdown dimension. 

Under “Metric”, choose “active users”. Click on the “Style” heading. Since there are only active users for the metric and the source for the dimension, you can remove the legend and change the title to indicate what this chart is showing.

You could call it “Social Media Traffic by Active Users.” Click on the chart area and change the width so that you can actually read the axis labels. Now, you can see which social media network gives your web property the most traffic.

Social Media Bar Chart in Data Studio by Growth Learner

Social media traffic bar chart in Looker Studio.

Stacked Area Chart for Social Media Traffic Data in Looker Studio

Another chart you can use is the “stacked area chart”. Again, if you want to create it from scratch, you can choose it from the “Add a chart” drop-down menu. 

Choose the stacked area chart in the configuration area. There is a “100% stacked area chart”, and we want the “100% stacking” option enabled in the Style section. This only shows us 100% of social media traffic broken down by source. 

You can see when certain social media sources provide the most traffic. For example, on March 11th, had 37% of social media traffic, while Facebook, with three different subdomains combined, produced almost 50% of social media traffic. 

Of course, you can change the title to “Social Media Traffic Share by Source.”

Social media stack area chart in Data Studio by Growth Learner

Social media traffic bar chart in Looker Studio.


Those are a couple of ways to show social media traffic data. You can choose which type of chart or table you feel is most appropriate for your report or dashboard. 

One thing to keep in mind is if you feel like there are certain sources that should not be categorized as social media traffic, you can always adjust your filter. 

For example, Google classifies traffic from as a social media source. If you don’t want to include that, it can be excluded. 

You would go to edit your filter by clicking on the writing utensil. Then, change the condition from “include” to “exclude”. Choose “source” and set the condition to “equals to” “” or whatever condition you want to include. 

Click on “save,” and you can see that Looker Studio has removed from every chart that uses this filter.


Though social media engagement may not be as tangible as a traditional company’s revenues and earnings, the use of social media provides a valuable opportunity for companies to improve their brand, promote new products or services, and interact with their customers. The way in which a company chooses to engage with a customer on social media is a direct reflection of how it perceives its relationship with them.

If you have a conversion funnel set up, you can still attribute conversions or sales to social media with working campaigns. 

It’s not so simple to find social media traffic data in Google Analytics 4, but there are ways you can obtain the data that you want and find insights.

If you’re looking for Google Analytics support, take a look at the help available at Fiverr.

AUTHOR: Isaiah Stone

Isaiah Stone is a digital analyst in the consumer goods industry. He is fascinated with productivity, business growth, and accomplishing more.