Social Analytics: Track Post Specific Data Using URL Tagging

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Publishing and promoting your content on social media is a great way to drive traffic to your website. Since launching our blog at the beginning of May, almost half our traffic has come from social media.

I'm a member of 10+ groups on Facebook that I actively contribute to and share my posts with. As a result, I know this activity drives a significant amount of traffic to our website.

But just knowing that my efforts "drive traffic" doesn't cut it. As marketers, website owners and businesses, we need to know exactly which posts are most valuable to us.

We can find out this information by using URL tagging, and that's what I'm going to show you how to do.

You should be tagging URLS RIGHT NOW!

Tagging URLs is SO important, because it allows you to track data for each individual post.

If you head over to Google Analytics and look for insights on your social data, you will notice there is a table with the social platforms and their data. Honestly this really doesn't tell us much as everything is tracking as one big lump of traffic.

Atomic Marketing traffic from May 1 to June 1st  2016.

Atomic Marketing traffic from May 1 to June 1st  2016.

From this information we have no idea which posts are driving the most traffic. If you are anything like me and like to share your content in groups, we can't actually see what group related traffic are driving goals and engagement.

The best way to start tagging URLs

Ok, so to tag a URL for your next post, the best way to do this is by using Google's URL builder: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033867?hl=en

Step 1:  Enter your post URL

This is the link you plan on posting, whether it be a blog post or whatever. For example, I want to post this article, so I'm going to copy and paste this article's URL into the field in step 1.

Step 2: Enter the campaign source

This is the social network you plan on posting it to. So if it's Facebook write "Facebook", if it's Twitter "Twitter", “Quora” etc you get the idea.

Step 3: Enter the campaign medium

Type in "Social" as it’s coming from social media.

Skip campaign term & campaign content

These two field are not required for what we're doing.

Step 4: Enter campaign name

The campaign name is the name that you will use to differentiate your analytics data. So if you are posting your link to a group in Facebook you can go ahead and use something like this: [Grp][Group Name][Post Name]

Pro Tip: Use abbreviation to keep labels short and neat.

I'm pretty obsessive compulsive when it comes to consistency so I like to use the above system for all my tagged URLS. Here's what they look like in analytics:

Google Analytics screenshot of tagged URLs in a data table

Step 5: Click generate URL

Once you are happy with your campaign name click "Generate URL" and you will get a long URL which functions the same as your original one, however this URL includes tracking parameters, which you can actually see.

So if you check out the screenshot below, you can see that the source is Facebook, the medium is Social and the custom campaign name.

Custom generated URL for tagging URLs 

Remember: You will need to create a custom URL for each location you plan on posting the link. So if you plan on posting to multiple FB groups you will need to create custom URLs and campaign names for each.

Posting your custom URL

Wherever you plan to post your URL, copy and paste it and you will see it still works the same as the regular URL. However when somebody clicks on your post, the URL communicates with Google analytics telling them that traffic is coming from the location specified.

Instead of displaying all the traffic coming just from Facebook, when you look at your analytics you can see exactly what posts from each group in what networks are driving the most traffic, engagement and goals.

It's REALLY important that you start following this process  as without it you will never be able to tell your content apart.


Written by

Sam Obrart avatar picture

Sam Obrart, Digital Marketer

Digital marketer at Atomic Marketing. I write about web design, business, Squarespace & SEO. Passionate about travel and entrepreneurship. Feel free to get in touch with me on Twitter!