Engagement was the buzzword of 2013, so what will be the buzzword for 2014? I believe that word will be “advocacy.” We all know how important customer reviews and recommendations are to compelling people to make a purchase. This is because positive reviews help to build confidence in your brand and your products. So how do you get more positivity on the web? Through brand advocates.
Over the last few years, we have all heard about the importance of growing relationships with brand advocates – the people who speak positively about your brand, and share your content on social media. In fact, it’s been found that offers or promotions shared by social media advocates convert at a much higher rate.
So how do you identify your potential brand advocates?
Social media channels have proven to be great marketing tools for companies, but measuring success can be difficult. You may be working significant hours each week to enhance your company’s social media efforts, but how can you be sure that you are tracking everything as optimally as possible?
First, it’s important to mention that social media success is not necessarily going to be visits to your website or immediate purchases of your products from social channels. Success can also be measured by engagement with fans or followers and the conversations held within the channels.
That said, there are times when you’ll want to drive traffic to your own website or blog pages from channels such as Facebook and Twitter. When doing this, you will want to make sure that you tag those links for Google Analytics (GA). For basic instructions on how to tag links for GA, please see the blog post title, Yes, Google Analytics can track that, too!
If you are not familiar with tagging for analytics, you should read the above post first, because in short, you will not be able to successfully track social media visits if you are not going to code all of the links for Google Analytics first. At this time, Google Analytics depends upon those query parameters to know what referral information to write into the GA referring cookie (the __utmz cookie).
Below are a few examples… Here’s a hypothetical tweet on Twitter:
“Social media made simple from #morevisibility!!! http://bit.ly/1jiXS ”
Of course merely reading the tweet will not show you anything in GA (although it may provide value in terms of the information tweeted) but a visitor clicking on that bit.ly link will show you the following in GA (you can click on the link to get the full effect):
This is because, as you can see, there are no query parameters at the end of the URL once you get to our website’s homepage after you click the bit.ly link. The path that a visitor takes looks like:
Twitter >> Bit.ly >> MoreVisibility
Since bit.ly is merely a re-direct to MoreVisibility, Twitter isn’t credited with the referring information.
Another example with a different bit.ly link:
“Social media made simple from #morevisibility!!! http://bit.ly/f4Bfqg”
A visitor clicking on this second bit.ly link will show you the following in GA:
Campaign: January 2011 Tweets
Content: Social Media Made Simple
This is possible due to the query parameters at the end of the URL after you’re redirected to our site. The path that a visitor takes is still:
Twitter >> Bit.ly >> MoreVisibility
But since we added the query paraments into the bit.ly shortening tool, it will show twitter as the source in Google Analytics, social-media as the medium, and so on, when clicking on that bit.ly link.
Last example: Same tweet, only this time we are not using a bit.ly URL:
“Social media made simple from #morevisibility!!! www.morevisibility.com”
Now, if anyone clicks on this link you will see the following in GA:
twitter.com is now the source and the medium is a referral because that is a link on Twitter’s website that someone clicked on to get to the website. The path would obviously not contain bit.ly because we did not shorten the link this time:
Twitter >> MoreVisibility
As many of you knowTwitter only allows 140 characters per tweet. Almost any page other than a homepage will use up quite a bit of valuable space, so that is why shortening links can be helpful.
Facebook does not have quite as strict restrictions on character counts, so you could use the actual URL (without Google Analytics tagging) and it will show up as a referral in GA.
Browser-based apps vs. desktop-based apps are also something to consider. If it’s a desktop-based app (one that you actually install on your PC where you don’t use a browser such as Chrome or Internet Explorer to control), then any clicks on links without GA query parameters will appear as direct traffic. If the links are tagged with the GA query parameters, then the traffic will appear with the source / medium combination that you have used in the query parameters.
Browser-based apps (ones that you log-in to a website and are using a browser to control) could appear as referrals from that website that you’re logged-in to, like Hootsuite.
So as you set out to track your social media efforts, it’s important to understand the intricacies of tracking and the ways in which this traffic may appear in your Google Analytics.
With the rise in use for social media for business, there is a great amount of discussion around how organizations quantify its success. Is it through the number of followers, likes, mentions, or retweets…? Although you may have not seen a direct correlation between user engagement and revenue in the past, social media has truly become a force to reckon with. Companies are now adding lead generation forms to their social media company pages and are actively collecting prospects’ contact information through their regular “social media-only” promotions.
Aside from collecting actual measureable leads, analytics is very useful in understanding the value of social media. Over time, social media outlets have rolled out analytics data within their platforms to help companies start to quantify their investment in social media. Facebook for instance, has “Insights” available as their form of analytics, viewable only to administrators of the company page. Admins are able to select a date range to view the number of “likes” and “post views” within the desired timeframe. This data, previously only collected by individuals manually, is now readily available.
LinkedIn, now allows you to view statistics on different companies’ growth, number of employees (on LinkedIn), job function composition, etc.. In the future, I anticipate that all social media outlets will launch some sort of analytics for their users. It will be interesting to see the additional analytics tools that are added and the value added as a result.
Although these tools will most definitely help businesses get insight on the success of their pages, I would definitely suggest accessing Google Analytics data to get a better understanding of the amount of “referring traffic” being driven to your company website. You can also track the number of leads as a result of that traffic.