Why You’re Probably Not Tracking Your Social Media Efforts the Right Way


by  Chris Makara WHEN  it comes to posting on social media, you are probably like most people and just grab the link to your blog and ...


WHEN it comes to posting on social media, you are probably like most people and just grab the link to your blog and post it across your various social media accounts.

Seems simple enough, right?
This approach, while easy can be doing you more bad than good.
This is especially true if you are trying to want to prove that your social media efforts are paying off. Luckily, there is a way to use social media analytics to prove the effectiveness of your social media activities.

Is Social Media Worth Your Time and Effort

A common question among those who are looking to use social media for their business is, “is it worth it?”
According to Social Media Today, 60% of small businesses reported no return on investment for their social media marketing. Ouch.
The good news is that 40% are seeing a return on their investment.
Don’t you want to be part of that 40%?
Now, depending on your industry and goals social media may or may not make sense for you. However, if you are looking to get started or just want to know if what you are doing is driving a real results – there is a pretty simply way to find out.
Let’s take a look on how you can do this.

How Social Media Analytics Can Take You From Zero to Hero

The strategy we’re going to look at is what I call the “Social Superhero Approach.”
I’ve used it to help prove which social channels and initiatives were driving email subscribers for one of my clients. Not only could they pin-point what channel(s) were driving conversions, but they were able to directly tie it to their own social media efforts.
Check this out:

Not sure what you are looking at? Let’s break it down.
You see, most of us will usually just look at our Google Analytics account and look at the source of traffic sending visits to our site. While this gives you a high level view of how much traffic you are getting, it doesn’t give you any insight into what activities on those channels are driving the traffic.
An approach like that keeps your efforts lumped into one huge bucket. There’s no way to know if what you are posting is working or not. Through the eyes of Google Analytics, your efforts look the same as everyone else driving social traffic. You are essentially a zero in providing attributed goal completions.
But here’s the deal – you need to become a hero.
To become a hero, you will need a powerful weapon on your side that will cut through the noise and show real results you can prove. The weapon you’ll need is the use of the urchin tracking module parameters, or more commonly referred to as UTM parameters.
You’ll need to use UTM parameters when sharing your links on social media which will give you detailed information on your social media efforts.
The way UTM parameters work is that they append additional data on a URL which when triggered will pass this information into your Google Analytics account. Then you can see exactly what is driving traffic to your site within your analytics dashboard.

Why UTM Parameters Matter

Without UTM parameters, in Google Analytics your link looks like most others when shared on social media. But when you add UTM parameters, your link has data attached to it. Data that tells the story of the link.
Here’s how your link would typically look:
When you add UTM parameters it will look like this:
You’ll notice there are 3 different UTM parameters used. These are source, medium and campaign.
  • The source can tell you what website the link was posted on. In this case, Twitter.
  • The second UTM parameter used is medium. Medium tells you the method in which the link was posted. This can be email, banner_ads, or in this case “post.”
  • The final parameter is campaign. The campaign can detail the initiative or campaign the link is a part of. In this example, it is part of an evergreen social media strategy.
Please note that all 3 parameters are required when building out the URL. It’s best to use a URL shortener such as Bitly to shorten your URLs when sharing on social media. When sharing your updates, this will allow you to utilize UTM parameters without taking away character count from sites like Twitter.

Set Your Goals

One last thing before you can really see the impact of your social efforts, that you will need to set up goals in Google Analytics.
There are a number of ways to define goals.
Most of the time, I like to use a destination URL – for example, a thank you page someone gets to when they submit a form or complete a purchase.
Once setup, anytime the goal is triggered it will show up as a goal completion in Google Analytics. Not only that, but with your UTM parameters you can see if they triggered the goals as well.
Here’s how you can see these results.

Seeing The Impact of Your Social Efforts

In order to really get the most out of your UTM parameters, you’ll need to be sure to create unique sources for your URLs. This means that when building out your URLs, you used “twitter” for Twitter, “facebook” for Facebook, etc. Keep in mind that UTM parameters are case sensitive, so be sure to be consistent when using them (check out the image below and notice how “Pinterest” is misspelled for #6).
After you have posted on social media using your UTM URLs, you can jump into Google Analytics to see the results. To access the report for UTM parameters, you’ll need to go to “Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns.” Then select a secondary dimension of “Source/Medium.”
You’ll see a report like this:

You can easily see what source (website) brought you results. You might need to select the right goal from the conversions drop down to show the results you are interested in.

Find Out What Works, Do More of It

When you are properly tracking your social media efforts, you can make informed decisions. Most notably, you are able to understand what is working.
In the screenshot above, you can see each of the channels links were posted using UTM parameters. Some channels performed a lot better than others, while others left a lot more to be desired.
In this case, you can see that Pinterest and Facebook are not working so well. Perhaps the messaging needs to be tweaked for these channels. Or it’s quite possible they don’t have a receptive audience and it may make sense to focus more efforts on the channels that are driving results.
The bottom line is that by using the Social Superhero Approach, you can have this type of insight to see if your social media efforts are paying off. Without it, you would never know.
When you see what is working, you can make a more concentrated effort to do more of what is working and less on what isn’t.

Track Your Social Media More Efficiently

By implementing this approach, there will be no doubt about the results of your efforts – both good and bad. So just to recap the process:
  • Use UTM parameters designated for each channel (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  • Append these parameters to every social media update you post for each channel that links back to your website
  • Monitor Google Analytics for goal conversions from these sources
One great thing about viewing this data in Google Analytics is that you can schedule weekly or monthly reports to be emailed to you. Setting this up will help keep you on top of your social initiatives and be able to make adjustments as needed.
Do you currently track the impact of your social activities?
If so, how? If not, why?
Let us know in the comments how you will use this approach to better understand what social media initiatives are working and on what channels.



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#DIGITAL: Why You’re Probably Not Tracking Your Social Media Efforts the Right Way
Why You’re Probably Not Tracking Your Social Media Efforts the Right Way
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