We’re often asked to advise clients about which social media platforms will deliver the best results. We have a general answer based on the results we see across clients and the overall growth patterns on the social platforms, but Google Analytics helps us make custom recommendations.

You may be asking yourself, what does Google Analytics have to do with social media?

The answer? A lot.

If you don’t have Google Analytics on your website, make an action item to create that connection as soon as possible. It’s critical data that can help you achieve greater results, faster.

Next, dive into those numbers. Google Analytics offers a wealth of information about visitors to your website. Here are four important metrics you can learn.

How many people visit your site: This is one of the first numbers you’ll see in Google Analytics. It lets you know what kind of traffic you have to your site. Tracking this from week to week or month to month will help you detect trends. The goal is always to drive more traffic; so if your numbers aren’t climbing, you may want to dig deeper into why.

How long they stay on your site: In the dashboard, this is called the Bounce Rate. The numbers here show you the percentage of time people stay on your website. You want that number to be low. It’s shown as a percentage, and it lets you know how many people view one page on your site and then leave or ‘bounce.’ You’ll also see just how long people are staying on your site. Anything above a minute is good, but again, the goal is to keep visitors longer. Having ‘sticky’ content that draws people in will help those numbers increase.

What they like on your site: This metric is really important—it lets you know what the majority of people are checking out on your site. Click on Behavior in the dashboard to find out where people are going on your site. If you have a blog post that performs well month after month, it’s a smart idea to try to create more content similar to that post—in style, subject matter, or appearance. Conversely, these metrics help you identify what’s not working, so you can stop creating that type of content.

Where they are coming from: This metric lets you know how your marketing efforts are working and can help shape your social media plan, too. If you click under Acquisition in the Analytics dashboard, you’ll find out how people are discovering your site. Odds are, many are coming via a direct link, but social media should be in your top 3 traffic drivers. Click on Social, and you’ll see exactly how many people are coming from each platform. If you love Twitter, but it’s driving the least amount of traffic, it might be time to update your social media strategy.

Google Analytics offer a wealth of information and the numbers can be overwhelming. There are great tutorials online to help, or you can get comfortable with the Big 4 and start updating your marketing efforts to take advantage of this data. Remember, as Peter Drucker so famously said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”