Coastal Media Brand

Is your small business wasting time and money on social media marketing? Many small business owners post links on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, but have no conception of what’s supporting their marketing objectives and what is waste, or even how to determine which analytics are important.

There are many factors involved in tracking social media marketing success, like engagement and reputation, but one one metric that’s simple to track is inbound referrals to your website. A large percentage of social media marketing activity involves promoting your website to your target audience, so you absolutely must know what traffic is coming from where.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to setup your small business social media tracking and analytics system.

Required tools

  • Google Analytics account: if you don’t have one, sign up for an Analytics account. It takes a bit of effort (you may need to involve your webmaster), but the payoff will be apparent for the life of your website.
  • Google URL Builder: in conjunction with Analytics, the URL Builder allows you to gain quick insight into the performance of your social media links
  • Spreadsheet program: such as Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet

Social Media Tracking Method Step 1: Let’s say your small business sells hand-made t-shirts in-store as well as online. Your marketing strategy revolves around a “hot deals” page on your website that offer “buy now” opportunities for your 6 top-selling designs. All inbound activity will be directed to this landing page.

Step 2: Your small business has a decent following on Twitter and and active fan group of Facebook, so they will be the primary target of your social media marketing activities. You also post images of your products on Flickr, so you’ll track inbound links from there as well.

Step 3: a guide to the URL Builder

  • We’ll start with Twitter
  • Enter the base address into the “Website URL” box
  • “Campaign Source” = the site where you’ll post this particular link, so for the Twitter links, enter “Twitter”
  • “Campaign Medium” = the kind of link you’ll be using, like a banner add, text link, email campaign, etc.
  • “Campaign Content” = used to differentiate different kinds of content pointing to the same landing page
    • The Twitter component of this online marketing campaign will have two sources:
      • Post links, i.e. links you’ll post in your feed
      • Bio link, i.e. the link in your profile information

    • You’ll give them both unique names for tracking purposes
    • Since we can only build one URL at a time, we’ll do to the post links first, so enter “post_link” into this box (you can’t use spaces)
  • “Campaign Name” = used to identify the larger campaign this link is a part of. Since your marketing efforts are focused on the Hot Deals landing page, enter “hot_deals_fall_09?
  • Finally, click “Generate URL,” and your URL is built!

You’ll have to go through this process for each different link on your social media properties. So two for Twitter, changing the Campaign Content field for each kind, and for each Facebook link and Flickr link you’ll post.

Step 4: As you can see, this analytics systems results in a large inventory of URLs. To keep track of what values you’ve used for each tracking parameter, setup a spreadsheet that store each value used. Use the furthest-right column to leave yourself notes about how each URL was used, where and when. Again, the initial setup is a bit time consuming, but your efforts will provide solid social media analytics so you can focus your marketing efforts on activities that bring results.

Step 5: Now that you have your list of URLs in your handy spreadsheet, implement them on your target social media sites.

Step 6: Once your links are in the wild, you can move on to the exciting part: tracking the campaign results. Login to your Google Analytics account and click on “Traffic Sources” in the navigation on the left. The two sub-sections of interest in our case are “Campaigns” and “Ad Versions.” These reports will quickly overview the progress of your campaigns and the versions of your links you’ve posted on the social networks.

Additionally, you can view the Campaigns based on the other dimensions you set when building the URL, namely source, medium, and ad content.

Step 7: Watch your campaign for the next days and weeks to see which links are driving traffic to your website. Maybe you find that posting image links in your Facebook status drives twice the traffic as the Flickr photos, so you spend more time on that approach. Any combination of results is possible, but without analytics and metrics, you are completely in the dark about the effectiveness of your small business social media marketing efforts.

Now you’re ready to begin tracking and measuring the effectiveness of your small business social media marketing efforts.

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