At the most recent breakfast hosted by Indy Social Media, Douglas Karr of DK New Media talked about Analytics and Measurement of the Social Web (check out a UStream of Doug’s presentation here). It was a great presentation and the thing that stuck out to me the most was when Doug mentioned how inaccurate analytics software was when it comes to social referrals.
For the most part, by looking at your analytics software (I’ll use Google Analytics for example, since it’s what I use and it’s free), you can click on the Referring Sites section and see how many visitors came to your website from Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare and other social sites, but the real fly in the ointment is Twitter. You’ll see Twitter.com in your Referring Sites section, but it’s likely that you’re getting more visits from Twitter than just the ones you see.
The visits you see from Twitter.com are just that – they’re only visits made by people clicking on your link while looking at their Twitter accounts on Twitter.com. In fact, Mashable just reported that Twitter just announced that 40% of all tweets come from mobile devices – an astounding number. This only underscores the importance of making sure you can track all Twitter traffic accurately. Currently, you won’t see mobile or desktop applications like TweetDeck, HootSuite or Seesmic show up in your analytics data. So, there’s a large group of visitors that you may not be properly attributing to Twitter.
If you’re using Google Analytics to track your web stats, it’s actually pretty easy to begin capturing all of your referrals from Twitter. We’ll be using Google Analytics Campaign tracking codes to do this. The first thing to understand is what Google’s campaign parameters are and how to add them to your links. Below are the basic Campaign tracking parameters that we’ll use.
- utm_campaign: Your campaign name
- utm_source: The source for the link (HootSuite, TweetDeck, TwitterFeed, Email Newsletter)
- utm_medium: Identify your medium (email, search, social media, twitter, facebook, etc.)
For example, if I wanted to point people to the Interviews section of Digital 317, I would post this link on Twitter from TweetDeck: http://socialmediarology.com/category/interviews/. But to more accurately track those visitors from Twitter I’ll append the following data to the URL above:
So the full link would look like this: http://socialmediarology.com/category/interviews/?utm_source=TweetDeck&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Interviews. Nice long URL, huh? Not to worry, your standard URL shortener will compress all that to a nice small URL to post to Twitter (http://bit.ly/fwzSam).
Now, next time you log into Google Analytics, look under Traffic Sources then Campaigns and you can search for all the campaigns you ran through Twitter and find out how many people clicked through. You can even have one Campaign with different links you post to Twitter, Facebook, Email and other mediums and all you have to change is the utm_medium or utm_source parameters.
The best part is you don’t have to remember how to add all the parameters to your links, just check out Google’s free URL Builder and it will create the URLs for you. In fact, if you use TwitterFeed to push your blog posts through to Twitter or HootSuite to manage your social media presence, you can set up their baked-in URL shorteners to automatically append analytics tracking data.
Log in, and either create a new feed or edit an existing feed. On Step 2, you can add services to push your feeds to, add or edit one of your Twitter services to see the ability to add UTM Tags.
I really like the ease of using TwitterFeed because there are several options they allow and you can push your feed to multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts. The ability to add in custom tracking parameters is a real plus.
HootSuite is just as easy. When you’re logged in, click in the box where you add a URL to shorten, Then click on the down arrow to the left of the Shrink button. Select Custom URL Parameters and you can fill out either one-time parameters or you can add parameters in as a default. Now these parameters will be added to the end of any link you shorten through HootSuite.
If you selected the Always apply when creating Ow.ly links box, the parameters will be appended to every link you create, so if you’re linking to external websites, they’ll see your tracking code on their site as well, but as long as it’s included on links to your site, that’s what really matters.
Hopefully this brief walk-through helps you to start tracking more of your visits from Twitter. Have you noticed that your referrals from Twitter didn’t look as strong as you expected them to?