When you’re running any kind of online marketing campaign, it’s important to get the best quality data possible in order to measure the quality and value of any traffic that you’re receiving.  Unfortunately, when you’re running social media campaigns, there are numerous factors that get in the way of your data.

A lot of social content is consumed through platforms that don’t behave in the same ways as common desk top browsers such as Chrome or Firefox.  Slower connection speeds might not give the JavaScript tracking sufficient time to execute, and the presentation of content in a pop up window or iFrame can strip away referrer data.

It’s not possible to get around all of the problems with monitoring traffic, however the most pressing issue for any marketer using social media to promote a product is to know where the traffic is coming from.  If for example you know that Facebook traffic converts three times better than that from Twitter, you will want to concentrate more effort in that network to improve your reach and get more high quality traffic.

URL Shorteners Are Your Friend

I’m a big fan of the service Bit.ly provide.  Aside from being free, it has a number of advantages over other URL shorteners in that it provides some good statistics.  It also allows you to group multiple URLs for analysis, which is helpful.

Use The Channels

Google Analytics, and most other systems, allow you to add a custom channel to your reporting based on URL tagging. Google have a special tool that you can use to generate the tagged URLs using this, it is easy to create custom links to use depending on where you are posting a link.  Typically, you might end up with something like this:

quumf.com/2011/02/quora-a-better-qa/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=abc

quumf.com/2011/02/quora-a-better-qa/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=abc

quumf.com/2011/02/quora-a-better-qa/?utm_source=Linkedin&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=abc

Shorten Away

Once you have built your customised tracking links, you just need to shorten them, and group them for tracking purposes.  Bit.ly call this a bundle, and it takes no time to create one byh just adding your shortened links using the web form.

What about my SEO?

Using additional parameters for pages essentially creates different pages for Google, and this can lead to your website having multiple versions of pages, which is bad from an SEO perspective.  One option is to block any pages that include the utm_source parameter using robots.txt, however this is like using a hammer to crack a walnut.

You’re better off either using the parameter removal tool in Google Webmaster Tools, which essentially tells Google that your parameter enhanced URLs should be ignored, or add a rel=”canonical” element within your page header to tell Google what the default url of the page should be.

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3 Responses to More effective tracking of Social traffic

  1. [...] my last post, I wrote about how you can use custom shortened URLs to improve your tracking of social media traffic, but the sad thing is, that for a lot of social media campaigns, the only metric for success is [...]

  2. [...] trying to measure any kind of conversion attribution using Bit.ly, and if I was, I would ideally be using separate shortened URLs for different placements (ie Facebook, Twitter etc) to give me a bit more insight into where my content was popular, however [...]

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