Using tracking urls to learn more about your social media traffic
Much is discussed about how to track the ROI of social media marketing efforts and it seems that in the space of time it will take me to type this that 3 new Twitter software tools will launch that claim to do this. However, most of us have some tools are our disposal right now that do a darn good job of getting us very detailed information if we are prepared to take an extra step or two. By combining tracking urls like those generated by Google analytics with a URL shortener like bit.ly you can not only get information on the clikc activity of your inbound links from social media posts but you can filter your analytics to create reports on what the traffic is doing once they enter your site.
This is not complicated or difficult to do but for some reason I have seen very little discussion of it. The first step is to make sure you have an account with a URL shortening service that generates reports on the click activity of those links. My personal fave is bit.ly. Now let’s say that you are creating a Twitter post that links back to a landing page on your site. If you use Google analytics you can use a tool called their URL builder to create tracking URLs that the analytics will recognize. Enter in teh destination URL and a few other parameters that help describe the source of the click and the tool will give you long URL containing the tracking code.
Now that you have the long tracking URL you can jump over to bit.ly and shorten it. If you use the resulting shortened URL in your posts you will have the ability to track the activity through that link in two ways. Bit.ly will tell you how many people clicked on the link along with other information like when and where they clicked on it. That’s fairly useful but even more helpful is to be able to go into your Google analytics account and create reports on the visitor activity that came through the tracking URL. Now you can track the activity through whatever funnels you like to track on your website.
Someday soon, our web analytics tools will be integrated with social media tracking tools and there will be fewer steps for us. But for now, there is quite a bit you can do to get down to the level of ROI tracking that you are used to having from oher online ad campaigns, email campaigns, and search campaigns. Any other thoughts and ideas…let me know.