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How to track social media campaigns using Google Analytics

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 22 Aug, 2017
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Understanding how GA 'UTM' values can give you more insight into your social media marketing

There are some key questions every marketer should ask of any social media initiative... Is anyone actually listening? How are they interacting and what are the business outcomes? To answer the last question on how social media links back to leads and sales on a business website, Google Analytics and using UTM values for campaign tracking are a vital, but often missing ingredient which we explain in the new CommuniGator social media measurement whitepaper.

This form of media has now become an integral part of our lives and continues to evolve. A few years ago the emphasis was on B2B companies being active and creating pages on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter… now the conversation has swung and is moving towards the idea that every marketing campaign must be social.socialmedia_123stock17877227_s

With every month that passes, there seems to be an endless stream of new channels, terminologies, and the dialogue can be fascinating. But it can be very easy to get caught up with the new innovations and forget about what you’re currently doing. It seems that before you have got to grips with one channel there is another one to topple that, and it requires your undivided attention.

The evolving digital landscape

The latest research on the use of different social networks shows that there is a huge choice of existing social media channels and a stream of new channels. We need to keep an eye on the new options, but this can sometimes get in the way of making social media marketing measurable in a meaningful way. We are too busy ‘doing’ social and trying to figure the best way of using them so measurement can be neglected.

As the digital world keeps expanding (let’s not forget you are dealing with email, website, PPC, SEO, remarketing, and content to name a few) it is very easy to get overloaded and overlook the key reason you attempted social in the first place.

Interestingly the 'social' nature of these channels are really useful for engaging prospects and customers (here’s a really interesting infographic summing up the 6 major social channels). Rather than the dodgy reputation that haunts sales departments ('why are they not listening to me? Maybe it’s end of the month and they need to hit their commission'), social media allows you to build a relationship in an informal, personable, low-pressured way. Sounds like a good thing to do right….?

Also, social media is evolving from company-buyer into peer-to-peer influence. A recent Nielsen Survey showed that only 33% of buyers believe what a brand has to say about itself because people view any brand-to-buyer communication as an advertisement.

So peer-to-peer word of mouth is an effective way for reaching far beyond your initial database. This type of word-of-mouth is one of the most credible forms of advertising, because people who don’t stand to gain personally by promoting something put their reputations on the line, by telling other people how much they like a business, product, service or event.

Measuring social engagement

So you need a way to measure engagement and how this translates to business results on your site.

When we talk to customers we find that most B2B marketers are naturally cynical and fall into one of two camps when it comes to social media marketing:

  • 1. Those not doing it and thinking it is a waste of time and
  • 2. Those doing it and wondering if it is a waste of time.

There's that niggling feeling that there must be a way to make social media work that just won’t go away. In our experience that uncertainty is born out of a total lack of meaningful measurement.

Social media has a whole range of self-fulfilling metrics that enable those charging for their social media services to justify their own existence. The value of a retweet to the bottom line of your business is quite intangible.

Like any marketing activity, we must be able to track and measure its ROI. What is it delivering to the business in terms of opportunities? You cannot improve what you cannot measure after all.

Introducing how to use Google Analytics UTMs for measuring social media marketing

Do you know what UTMs are and do you use them? If you answer ‘no’ I would suggest you're missing out since tracking campaigns with them is one of the most underused and undervalued things in digital marketing.

Every digital piece of content you produce should be tracked and encoded with a full set of UTM values to help you understand how much content on your site is being accessed when they’re accessed, whether they generate leads or sales, all broken down by which (social) channel.

At a practical level UTM parameters are bits of text added to the end of your URL, technically called a query string since they're separated by a question mark from the web address.

For example, a URL with UTM values from this post taking you to CommuniGator’s GatorSocial page could be tagged as:


It helps you track where your links are coming from but more importantly the actual source and content. Once you have goals setup in Google Analytics you can use them to track all of your links and measure the success of marketing activities, like social media and guest blog posting.

To explain the full details of measuring social media, download our social media measurement whitepaper which will help you get the most out of you social media and make sure you are able to ascertain what value it is providing to your business.

The paper covers the five key areas below – I hope you enjoyed the read and find it useful.

  • 1. Social Profiles: First Impressions Count
  • 2. Audiences: Follow You, Follow Me
  • 3. Content: A Kingsize Challenge
  • 3. Analytics: Meaningful Measurement
  • 4.Conclusion: Managing the Marketing Mix

Image Credit / Copyright: Marcel De Grijs/ 123RF Stock Photo.

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