How To Use URL Parameters To Track Social Media Success

By Kristina Cisnero


Image via Trading Academy

Social media managers should be able to show how social media activities are affecting their marketing goals, and how social can be used to increase website traffic to generate sales. Recent studies show that 45% of brands say they struggle with measuring social media ROI, and 96% of brands who use Twitter as a marketing tool report having challenges in achieving specific goals.

These challenges can be addressed by learning how to effectively track your social media efforts. If your goals in 2015 include increasing website traffic or blog traffic with the use of social media, you should consider using URL parameters and Google Analytics to see tangible results from link tracking. The steps below will guide you through the process of setting your website up for success with Google Analytics, getting your URL parameters in check, and preparing your Google Analytics report to show proof of your social media efforts.

Step 1: Integrate Google Analytics into your website

The first step to effectively measuring social media traffic to your website is making sure Google Analytics is integrated into your website.

Step 2: Use URL Parameters in your social media posts

Now that you have your website integrated with Google Analytics, the next thing you need to do is use URL parameters for proper link tracking. If this term is unfamiliar to you, don’t worry—it’s really not as technical as it sounds. These parameters are basically user-defined rules that determine how data is tracked. In Hootsuite, you can create custom URL parameters for each campaign URL, or if you are publishing posts out of your company’s social media networks, you can set it up so that every post has a parameter attached to it.

Here’s how to create custom URL parameters in Hootsuite:

How to create custom URL parameters for link tracking in Hootsuite

But what do all these different URL parameters mean, you may ask. Here’s a chart that shows when and why URL parameters are used. Keep in mind that you should always be using campaign medium, campaign name, and campaign source.

URL parameters use cases

Step 3: Track your custom URL Parameters in Google Analytics

After steps 1 and 2, you can start tracking your social media traffic effectively within Google Analytics. You can do this by using the secondary dimension function to track which source is bringing in the traffic to certain pages of your website, or to your website overall. Which is why it’s important to make sure your URL parameters include the campaign source.

In your Hootsuite dashboard, you can track the performance of your social media efforts with our built in Google Analytics report. In there you’ll be able to see which source is bringing in the most traffic. However, you can’t track individual URLs.

Here’s how to set up Google Analytics in Hootsuite:

  • Go into Analytics

Custom URL parameters in Google Analytics - Step 1

  • Under Templates choose the Google Analytics template

Customer URL parameters in Google Analytics - Step 2

  • Then Add your Google Analytics Account

Customer URL parameters with Google Analytics - Step 3

  • Choose the Twitter handle you want to track and click Create Report

Custom URL parameters with Google Analytics - Step 4

Step 4: Assess your performance with your Hootsuite Google Analytics report

In Google Analytics Report from Hootsuite, there are 5 analytic modules to evaluate the performance of your social media efforts to drive traffic to your site.

Track performance of URL parameters and web traffic
This is an example from the Hootsuite Google Analytics Template

Site visitors will allow you to measure the effectiveness of tactics on the front-line and see immediately which messages resonate with your audience.

measuring URL parameters performance web traffic with sparklines
This is an example from the Hootsuite Google Analytics Template

Sparklines show a statistical overview to quickly see how campaign elements are performing, enabling you to prioritize the areas that need the most attention.

URL parameters performance in GA show geographic locations
This is an example from the Hootsuite Google Analytics Template

Regional site traffic allow you to learn which areas produce campaign results so you can geo-target your outreach.

URL parameters allow you to track top content pieces
This is an example from the Hootsuite Google Analytics Template

Measure pageview statistics to determine which content best attracts audience.

URL parameters allow you to determine if your social media efforts is bringing traffic to your website
This is an example from the Hootsuite Google Analytics Template

Determine which channels provide traffic and see where social media stands when it comes to driving traffic to your website.

Step 5: Track Your Performance Consistently

Whether you’re using Hootsuite’s built-in Google Analytics report or performing link tracking directly on Google Analytics’ platform, make sure to always be tracking. As a social media manager, it’s important to prove the value of social media for the business, and one of the best ways to do this is to keep a record of the results of your social media efforts. URL parameters are key to link tracking, and they are an essential tool to prove social media’s effects on marketing goals like website traffic, leads generated, and sales. In order to make sure you’re tracking every link on your social media accounts, go to Hootsuite’s advanced URL parameter section, and check the box beside, “Always apply when creating shortened links.” This will make sure you never miss out on any opportunities.

Start using URL Parameters with Hootsuite Pro.

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