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Beginner's Quick Web Analytics Guide: How to Track Social Media Links in Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a very nifty and necessary tool to measure your digital and inbound marketing efforts.  As a social media enthusiast myself, I’m always looking to see how my social media engagement drives traffic to our site through our analytics reports.  Though, sometimes, its hard to figure out just what specific links, posts and conversations drove the most traffic.  Google Analytics shows referral traffic from different sources such as t.co (Twitter) or Facebook.com, but besides seeing the date the visits come in, how can I know which particular links drove visitors to my landing pages?

 

Google Analytics Confused Man

Don’t worry, there are many ways to do this!  One of my favorite techniques is the old “URL builder and shortner” trick.  This allows any URL you want to post on a social media channel to not only be shortened to fit any character restrictions (such as Twitter’s 140) but also be tagged with a unique extension so you can see exactly what links are driving the most visitors to your site.  Here’s how you can do it:

Say we want to post a link of our last blog post on twitter…

    1. First we’d copy the original URL (http://infotrustllc.com/blog/social-media-web-marketing/facebook-top-10-apps-and-techniques-to-use-for-engagement), and go to Google’s URL Builder Tool.  We’d then paste the URL into “Website URL” and fill out the fields below.  Once done with the appropriate tags, we click “Generate URL” to obtain our new tagged URL.  NOTE* The “Campaign Name” field is what you will see in your Google Analytics so be specific here.  See the sample screenshot below for our example field names.
      Google URL Builder for Google Analytics

      Google URL Builder for Google Analytics

    1. Now we copy the newly generated URL and go to Google’s URL Shortner Service.  We always log in to our Google Account (preferably the one that is associated with the Google Analytics account), paste the URL in the field, and click “Shorten URL”.  Our tagged URL will be shortened to use on any social media site now, in this example Twitter.  Using this service, we can also see the details of each shortened link such as how many clicks, what platforms were used, what browsers were used, country location of the visitor who clicked, and it even generates a QR code for that shortened URL.  To see all this, we just click “Details” next to the full URL once we generated the shortened URL.  Google’s shortening service saves our history of all URLs we’ve ever shortened, as long as we are logged in to our Google account first.  NOTE* You can use any URL shortener service you like to do this, as long as you go to Google URL builder first.
      Google URL Shortener for Google Analytics

    1. After we post our new shortened link all over our social-sphere (including twitter for this example), it’s time to check our analytics to see if it drove any traffic!  NOTE* Google Analytics won’t show inbound traffic from social media under Referrals anymore, but the tagged and shortened URLs will now show up as Campaigns. See below for an example URL we tagged with the name “June13″, maybe not the most obvious and specific campaign name but for our purpose in our team, this title is understood for its use.
      Google Analytics Campaigns View

      Google Analytics Campaigns

And there you have it!  You now can successfully track inbound links from your social media in Google Analytics.  This can be convenient when testing new topics or blog ideas, but always remember to primarily look at trends with your Google Analytics.  Trends tend to be more useful, insightful and actionable instead of per-click or individual visitor data.  But it is fun to see what specific links work and which don’t, and yes, it’s okay to get sucked in to see what campaigns are more effective.

As always, we’d love hearing your thoughts! If you have any other apps we may have missed, any questions or you just want to chat, feel free to contact me at amin@infotrustllc.com.

Article Written by Amin Shawki

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