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Implications of new Twitter linking method

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 22 Aug, 2011
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More referrals from the t.co domain means you should check how you track Twitter within Google Analytics

Importance: [rating=4]

Recommended link: The Next Web

Our commentary on the New Twitter tracking

Last week Twitter quietly changed it’s method of linking from tweets through to sites. It didn’t post it to its main blog but it was reported by The Next Web - see link above - thanks Dan Barker for alerting me to this.  However, the Next Web didn’t go into the details of how this could affect your analytics, which is what we’re alerting you to here.

What this means in practice is that if you are active in Twitter you will see a sharp increase in referrals from T.co domains which is what we’ve seen:

Note that the traffic using other shortened URLs such as bit.ly or Ow.ly, which is a big proportion of Twitter visits, still won’t be shown in Analytics unless you have referrer strings added.

The change that was made, was that all links longer than 20 characters pasted direct into Twitter will be automatically shorted using the t.co URL shortener as explained in the Twitter Dev blog).

This change makes it easier for users who paste links direct into Twitter by autoshortening them to a shortened URL with domain t.co. These links will now be shown in Google Analytics as being referred from the domain t.co rather than Twitter.com. Note that this doesn’t affect links that are from other apps for posting to Twitter like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite since these are less than 20 characters.

Marketing implications of the new Twitter tracking

Twitter is still increasing in importance, so it needs to be tracked as accurately as possible. Twitter recently announced there are over 200 million Tweets per day and that compares to 65 million a year earlier.

With this change, to track Twitter visits from Google Analytics now you will have to:

  1. Review referrals from the domain T.co as well as Twitter.com. There will still be some Twitter.com referrals where Twitter users click on your profile link pointing to your site.
  2. Change any filtered profiles or advanced segments used to group social media visits to include the “t.co” domain. This Econsultancy post explains approaches to tackle these.
Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. 'Dr Dave' is known for his strategic, but practical, data-driven advice. He has trained and consulted with many business of all sizes in most sectors. These include large international B2B and B2C brands including 3M, BP, Barclaycard, Dell, Confused.com, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, M&G Investment, Rentokil Initial, O2, Royal Canin (Mars Group) plus many smaller businesses. Dave is editor of the templates, guides and courses in our digital marketing resource library used by our Business members to plan, manage and optimize their marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is also keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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