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Why UTM Parameters Are Important for Social Listening

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One of the most elusive challenges in marketing is attribution. That is, the only way we can assess the ROI from any given marketing channel and/or campaign. How many of the new users came as a result of a certain activity. This is where UTM tracking comes to help.

What is UTM Tracking?

Urchin Tracking Modules (UTMs) are codes inserted into a shared link that allows us to identify its source among other things. Here are some of the common parameters (the first three are required):

  • utm_source - typically used to signify the platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
  • utm_medium - paid, referral, organic social, organic search, etc.
  • utm_campaign - name of a campaign if you're running more than one
  • utm_term - this is entirely up to you, typically refers to a keyword you're targeting
  • utm_creative - sometimes used to signify different versions in an A/B test

Are you confused yet? If you're not, then you're already familiar with all of this and you want to know what this has to do with social listening. You can skip all the way down to here

If you are confused, then you're not alone. This is a loose structure that is designed for you to make what you will out of it. There is no right way of structuring your UTMs, but it is better to have a consistent style and naming conventions.  

Remember, data is worth more when it is richer with actionable information. When designing our metrics, we should consider what metric we want to track and why we want to track it.

Enough of this, let's build one of those things.

How to build and track UTMs

You can write out the whole thing by hand, but I doubt it will have the same effect as "hand made" has with Persian rugs. A quick and easy tool to use is the GA Campaign URL Builder

GA Campaign URL Builder

Some publishing platforms have built-in UTM tracking features, when sharing links on social media networks. There are advantages to this approach, in that it removes the hassle with having to deal with it manually. However, if you have your own shortening domain and share things across different channels it may be better to consider a tool like bit.ly.

How to make use of UTM tracking

 

UTM variables provide us with a way to track links, where they came from and whatever else we can design into our campaign. So how does that translate into actual use?

Create content that connects

One of the great things about UTM tracking codes is that it allows us know how a particular piece of content is doing. How it's doing with traffic from Twitter vs traffic from Facebook. If we use 'utm_term' we could further track things by topic.

Measure conversions

UTM tracking is the beginning, but tying it together with in your Google Analytics by setting up goals helps you understand how the content is converting.

Function-based web analytics 

Different departments have different interests in your analytics. The Sales department is interested in different numbers from your Customer Service department. Using the right UTM Tracking codes, we're able to map out how content is being consumed.

We talk about "the right" tracking codes, but again, it really is just a clear way of defining how you build a URL. As long as you are consistent, your data can be understood.

Measure advocacy marketing impact

If your social media presence is strong enough that you have brand ambassadors and advocates, you probably have wanted to share and track traffic resulting from their advocacy. 

UTM tracking can help us take organize and structure our marketing activities, by attaching unique UTM codes to our advocates.

Measure influencer marketing ROI

It is no secret that one of the most frustrating things about influencer marketing is the difficult of tracking ROI. UTM tracking helps us address some of those issues by assigning unique UTM codes to individual influencers.

Optimize your social advertising efforts

You can't run any meaningful social ad and not expect to use UTM codes so you can accurately measure conversions. UTM codes make it easy to distinguish between organic traffic, paid campaigns, and other types of traffic.