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David A. West

Senior Internet Consultant & Professional Speaker

Canadian Social Media Advisor & Search Engine Strategist

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David West

Create & Share “Trackable” Links with UTM Parameters

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

I am working on a Social Media Strategy for a client today and while exploring analytics and tracking ended up with the following article as part of the plan.

Google has produced some good content to help community coordinators and social media managers better understand custom campaign analytics.  Leveraging these tools will ensure that the client will be able to track which efforts are performing.

When sharing online the community coordinator should take care to ensure that URL’s (links) contain campaign parameters. These campaign parameters will translate inside of Google Analytics by segmenting traffic sources.

Understanding UTM Parameters

This Google Analytics URL tool is available to assist with creation of appropriate URLS:  http://goo.gl/X1mWk

Here is an example of a properly formed URL that contains:

http://www.kayk.ca/?utm_source=DavidAWest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=social

Translation: website address – source = DavidAWest and medium = social and campaign = social

There is a very good article on Sprout Socials website explaining UTM parameters here:  http://goo.gl/vn1Kd

Shortening URL’s for Social Sharing

Once a URL has been marked up to include UTM parameters it can be shortened. Shortening URLs prior to sharing them on social networks gives two immediate benefits and a possible third benefit that I may address in a future article.

  1. Shortened URLs allow for more characters on social networks where there are character limitations such as Twitter, they also look neater.
  2. Shortened URLs can provide immediate ‘click through’ data.

Best Practice for Linking to Shared Content using UTM Parameters

The following best practice only applies when sharing resources where the URL links back to the target website:

1)    Append UTM Parameters to the website address that you are sharing. Resource: http://goo.gl/X1mWk

2)    Shorten the URL at http://goo.gl

3)    Share the conent as usual.

CAUTION:  Normalized Data for UTM_ parameters

Create a list of UTM_ parameters and ensure that the community manager uses them consistently or the resulting analytics will become muttled. For example if you were to use UTM_Source = Twitter and then later accidently type UTM_Source=Twiter you would effectively have created two unique “Sources”.  The same issue applies to all UTM Parameters.

Part of my quest now is to find a tool that will combine the URL builder and URL shortener into one step.

Now I am shooting off to finish the Social Media Strategy for our Calgary based client.

If you think you could use an entertaining social media trainer for your next event in Western Canada, call or e-mail the office of David West today to find out about scheduling and details.

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Some of David's Clients

  • Cir Realty
  • Canada Mortgage Network
  • Canasa
  • Calgary Residential