UTM parameters and Social Posting

If you are looking at your Google Analytics reports you can already find out quite a bit about how your website is performing: how many visitors, page views, sessions, etc. You can learn quite a bit about the behavior of your visitors: which browsers are they using, where the world are they, how long they spend on the site and even which pages they are seeing. You can even learn a bit about where the traffic is coming from (i.e. referrers).

You will however be missing an understanding of what kind of content that you publish to social media is actually producing results. For example, if you published several posts on several subjects to your Facebook, Twitter and Google+, how can you tell which specific posts have performed the best? Let's say you published to several Twitter profiles - how can you tell which specific profile is delivering the results?

Google Analytics actually offers a way to track that. It is called a UTM code.  A UTM code is a simple code that you can attach to your links in order to track a source, medium, and campaign name. This enables Google Analytics to tell you where searchers came from as well as what campaign directed them to you. 

 

How do UTM codes work?

It is quite simple actually. You simply need to append few parameters to your link. For example:

http://www.socialreport.com?utm_campaign=Blog&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

As you can see I've added 3 parameters. While there are few more available UTM parameters, in this article we will only discuss these 3 as they the most important once and offer you the simplest way of getting started. 

  • utm_campaign: generated from the "Campaign Name" setting that the company Account Owner or Manager defines. Currently, Custom URL Tracking can only support one campaign per domain.
  • utm_medium: automatically generated with a value of "social"
  • utm_source: posting to individual network = specific network (ex. "twitter" or "facebook" or "googleplus")

Once you start using these codes, in Google Analytics, you will find some very interesting results by going to Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns

ga_campaigns.png

You are now able to see how each campaign (utm_campaign parameter) is contributing.

If you click on Source or Medium you will see results breaking down by Source (utm_source) or Medium (utm_medium) respectively.

ga_source.png

As you can see you can now understand the traffic using a totally unique source that represent your specific social profiles or any other destinations.

 

Where to Use Custom Campaigns With UTM Parameters

You should consider using them everywhere where you are linking back to your website. Here are some ideas of social media links you would want to distinguish clicks from using UTM parameters.

  • All of your social media posts
  • Links in profiles on social media (i.e. link in Twitter profile, link in About on Facebook)
  • Links in outbound emails and email marketing.
  • Links in comments, replies and direct messages.
  • Links you share through instant messengers.
  • Links you share through text messages.
  • Links in your include in blog posts.

If you don't like the long looking links with all of the parameters appended to it, you can always shorten it by using any of the free link shorteners available. Note that if you schedule your content through Social Report, adding utm parameters and shortening links will be done for you automatically.

 

How to Create URLs With UTM Parameters

There are quite a few free tools that enable you to build URLs with UTM parameters. Here are some useful links:

https://www.facebook.com/business/google-analytics/build-your-url

https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/

These tools are quite similar. They offer a way to enter your utm parameters and generate URL

ga_link_builder.png

 

URL Tracking in Social Report

Social Report makes it seamless to append tracking data to the links you post. All you need to do is to identify which domains you want us to include UTM codes for (i.e. you want to do this for your own domains, not for domains of other people's websites). Now, any time you publish, we will automatically generate the relevant URL parameters, instead of requiring you to use a URL Builder to generate rich destination URLs each time. You will find these options under Settings > Project.

url_tracking.png

We've actually made it very simple. Even through you can enter campaign name (utm_campaign), campaign source (utm_source) and campaign medium (utm_medium) - all of these fields are option and Social Report will offer you super smart defaults of these:

utm_campaign - will default to the name of the content group (learn more about content groups)

utm_source - will default to the name of your social profile (i.e. 'twitter', 'facebook'). If you have given a custom name to you profile (i.e. MyTwitterProfile) - we will use that instead.

utm_medium - defaults to 'social'

 

URL Tracking Report in Social Report

Once you start url tracking in Social Report, you can get a detailed report on which posts and which profiles are delivering you the most traffic to your website. 

urltracking.jpg

 

You can even drill down further by clicking on specific posts and figuring out how many sessions (page visits) each post delivered

urldetails.jpg

 

Conclusion

Setting up URL Tracking is super simple and important to be able to connect your social efforts with performance and impact they have on your web presence. This will help you better understand what drives traffic to your website and what keeps users on it. This will also help you separate your paid activity from your organic work.