How to Create a Free Social Listening Dashboard by Hacking Google Analytics

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Social Media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have fundamentally changed how businesses interact with customers in their marketplace. From spotting new trends to responding to specific complaints, social platforms have become pivotal for driving customer loyalty and gaining a competitive edge.

One key way businesses harness the power of Social Media is through a process called social listening. Social listening is the practice of collecting and analyzing information from social posts, tweets, conversations, et al. that typically center around a specific topic, person, or industry. There are plenty of tools out there that organizations can purchase to help with social listening, but they can come with a high price tag.

That’s why I’ve put together this tutorial on how to setup a social listening dashboard by hacking together existing free tools. This is a perfect solution for small-to-medium size businesses who are interested in getting started with social listening. I don’t recommend this method for large organizations or major initiatives that require absolute precision.

Follow this 15 minute tutorial below and you will have a free social listening dashboard of your own.

Step 1 — Set Up a Google Analytics Account

  1. Go to
  2. If this is your first time here, sign up with a Google account
  3. Create a new GA Account and setup a Web Property
  4. Recommended naming convention ‘Social Listening Account’ > ‘Social Listening Property’
  5. Once your Property is created, go to the GA Admin panel > go to Property Settings > find your tracking ID (it should start with UA-) > you will need this ID in a few minutes, so write it down or leave this tab open

Step 2 — Set Up an IFTTT Account

  1. Go to
  2. If this is your first time here, sign up for a new account (recommend using Google account as login)

Step 3 — Create an IFTTT Applet that Listens for Mentions on Twitter and Sends Data to GA

  1. Once signed up/in, choose create new applet
  2. Select ‘this’ > find Twitter > select Twitter
  3. If this is your first time using the service, you will need to connect to your Twitter account
  4. Once connected to Twitter, choose ‘New Tweet from Search’
  1. Choose a hashtag (#) or handle (@) to listen for — this can be anything from branded hashtags to a competitors handle — in my example, I’m going to listen for any tweets with #measure.
  1. Once you’re satisfied, click Create Trigger.
  2. Next, select ‘that’ > search for and select ‘webhooks’
  3. Choose ‘make a web request’
  1. In the URL form field, paste the following
  2. In the same URL form field, paste your Tracking ID (the ID that starts with UA)
  3. Finally, paste the following &cid=123456789&ec=twitter&ea={{UserName}}&el={{Text}}
  4. Your final form field should look something like this, but with a different Tracking ID
  1. Under the Method form field choose Get
  2. All other form fields can be left alone
  3. Finally, choose Create Action

Step 4 — Create a Data Studio Dashboard to Analyze Data

  1. Go to
  2. If this is your first time here, sign up with a Google account
  3. From the main Reports screen, click on the + icon in the bottom right to create a new dashboard
  4. Choose a data source to add the dashboard by clicking Create New Data Source in the bottom right
  5. From the list of options, choose Google Analytics
  6. Select the appropriate Account, Property, and View that you created in Step 1, then click Connect in the top right
  7. Click Add to Report in the top right and then click Add to Report when the pop-up appears
  8. Congrats, you are now connected to your social listening data and are ready to start creating your own custom dashboard
  9. It’s up to you what your dashboard will ultimately include, but I recommend starting with a simple table that shows you a list of tweets by date (note: it will take ~4 hours for data to become available, so don’t panic if you don’t see any data right away)
  10. To create your table visual, choose Add a chart from the toolbar and select the first option under Table > this is going to place a Table visual on your canvas with some pre-populated fields
  11. Click on that new table visual and take note of the Data pane on the right hand side
  12. Within Available Fields find Date, Event Action and Event Label > when you find these fields, click and drag each one to your dimension field well.
  13. Using the same process, find Total Events and add it to your metric field well. It should look like this:
  1. Total Event represents the Total Number of Tweets, your Event Action is the handle that created the Tweet, and Event Label should display the Text of the tweet. You can rename these fields by clicking on the Calendar, ABC, or AUT symbols in your field wells.
  2. From here, it’s up to you how you want to view your data. You can create a line chart that shows the number of tweets by day, or even use the CASE function to bucket tweets into categories. The world is your oyster.

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