Using UTM Parameters to Track Social Media Success

Track Social Media Success with UTM Parameters

-Kevin Ramos, Paid Media Specialist

Your brand has killer social media marketing, and you are sending waves of traffic to your website. Great! Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have built-in analytics to show how you’re performing in the social space. But how do you translate that success over to your website and track its performance? Two words: UTM parameters.

What Are UTM Parameters

So what are UTM parameters? In short, they are tags you can add to the end of the URLs you use. When a user clicks on a URL with UTM parameters, analytics software such as Google Analytics can identify those tags, and then track the source of that visitor and how they interact with the website. 

Not only can you use UTMs for organic social media, but they are also a potent tool to use as well when paired with your paid social efforts. The best part is that UTM parameters function the same regardless of organic or paid.


How to Use UTM Parameters for Social Media

The best thing about UTM parameters is that you can create and set them up without the need of a developer. Here’s another great benefit – Google provides a free UTM builder that generates your URL with the parameters based on the information you provide. How great is that?

Give the tool a look and create your very first UTM here:

Different components make up a UTM parameter, but the three you should always use and include are Source, Medium, and Name.

  • Campaign Source: Identifies the source from which the visitor is coming from (Facebook, Twitter, Google, newsletter, etc.)
  • Campaign Medium: Identifies the type of channel that is driving the traffic (organic social, paid social, display, etc.)
  • Campaign Name: Identifies which campaign the posts are associated with (facebook_promo)

Let’s say we want to create a UTM parameter for a blog post we are sharing organically through social media. Our parameters would be: 

  • Campaign Source: facebook
  • Campaign Medium: organic social
  • Campaign Name: [identifier of blog post]

Drop in the website URL and the parameters into the Google builder and your final URL should look like the following:

Now, whenever a user clicks on that link, Google Analytics will be able to tell you that specific user came directly from that organic social post! Another great benefit of UTM parameters is that you can create different variations that you want to track. If we wanted to A/B test another organic social post that sends users to the same blog post, we could create another variation of the UTM parameter to track. With that information, you can see which social post sent the most traffic to the blog.

How To Know Social Media is a Success with UTMs

Now that we know the basics of a UTM parameter, how do we use them to track social media analytics on a website? That’s where the power of Google Analytics comes in.

With Google Analytics, we can apply a multitude of filters to help us identify the sources of overall website traffic. One example is the Source/Medium filter. By using this filter with our previous example, you can quickly identify the UTM parameters set for those two components. From this view, we can also see additional metrics such as bounce rate, average session duration, and conversions. We can also utilize the different reports Google Analytics provides to get granular and see how traffic with our UTMs behaves on specific web pages. 

With this data, we can answer questions such as how long are visitors spending on the site and how many form fill completions there were from social media. This type of information will help you determine if your social media efforts are meeting your goals for website traffic, engagement, and conversions. Based on the data collected, you can optimize your social media efforts for better performance.

In short, these are the benefits of using UTM parameters in social media: 

  • Tracking social media analytics on a website with ease
  • Seeing the precise amount of website traffic and conversions that can be attributed to social media
  • Comparing the performance of different posts and ads through A/B testing
  • Tracking the overall value of your social media marketing and campaigns

We are advocates of using UTM parameters to track our clients’ social media efforts. We strongly recommend you start implementing them, so you can see how successful and valuable your efforts are to your brand.

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