As a webmaster, it’s probable that a challenge you’ve had with social media is that it’s hard to track results and the ROI that goes along with them. If that’s the case, there’s a free solution right under your nose, in Google Analytics, especially if you’re already running Analytics on your site.
?
??
?

Google upgraded Analytics to include social media campaign tracking awhile back, but it’s been an underutilized feature of Google’s popular web stats service. You can get Analytics up and running to monitor and report on your social media campaigns in three simple steps.

?

Step 1: Set Up

?

The setup process involves determining your tracking goals and using Google’s URL Builder to mark up your URLs for tracking purposes. The URL Builder actually makes this process quick and painless.

?

Depending on your campaigns, you’ll set up a different tracking URL for each social source, i.e. a unique URL for your Facebook campaign, and another for Twitter, etc. This will allow Analytics to determine where your traffic is coming from between the different social campaigns. As you fill out the fields in Analytics, keep in mind that it’s okay to leave the fields you’re not using empty. Your campaign tracking URL will be generated upon click on submit.

?

Step 2: Shorten Your URLs

?

Since a new URL will be created for each social source, you’ll notice that the campaign tracking URLs are long. For purposes of using these on social, especially somewhere like Twitter where there’s a strict character limit, as well as for vanity purposes, use a URL shortener like bit.ly or goo.gl. This will allow you to share a short and clean URL, yet retain all of the tracking data, since the shortened URL is actually redirecting to the long campaign tracking URL.

?

Remember, if you begin using another social network as a potential traffic source, or are using the URLs differently and want to track a specific activity, setup a new campaign URL for that activity.

?

Step 3: Monitor Analytics for Performance

?

Now that your tracking URLs are being shared via your social channels, you’ll begin to see clicks and visits from these sources in your Google Analytics. To ensure that the tracking is working, click on your links to make sure that the data is registering in Analytics.

?

You’ll find the reporting for this in the “Overview” section of “Traffic Sources.” This will be listed under “Campaigns.” Your campaign report will compare your different social campaigns to see which is performing better, and all the other details collected via tracking. Now, with some actual data to go by, you can determine how much emphasis to place on each of your social channels, as well as get ideas to make improvements to these traffic sources.