You are probably active on social media, but are you measuring your ROI and the success of your efforts?

In this "Chart of the Week" from Marketing Sherpa, only 7% of companies are confident social media is producing a positive ROI. The article says 7% is "outstanding" because social media is still so new. I respectfully disagree.

Social media is not new. Anything in digital marketing that has been "the rave" for two years is no longer new. 

I save "new" for the types of projects we don't know about yet that will change our lives in the new decade.

Instead, I think this might be a classic "measurability" problem. Like I always say, "If you can't measure it, it's probably zero." So I thought I'd share some tips & tricks for measuring social media without enormous budgets or expensive software.

We’ll start with the simplest way that requires no effort (assuming you have Google Analytics installed on your site. If you don’t, tisk tisk. Go here.)

Google Analytics – Referral Sources

The easiest way to measure the success of your social media program is to use the data that is gathered for you automatically. Google Analytics (GA) is smart enough to know where traffic comes from so if someone clicks a link to your site on Facebook, GA logs that visitor as a link that came from the Facebook domain. GA calls this the "Source" of the traffic.

To see this data, click “All Traffic Sources” in the left nav bar under “Traffic Sources”.

At the bottom of the screen, next to “Filter Source/Medium Containing” there is a text box.

Enter “facebook” in the text box and press the “Go” button.

This shows you how much traffic came to your site from the Facebook domain.



If you have goals or ecommerce tracking set-up in GA, then it gets so much more powerful!

Click the “Goals” tab or “Ecommerce” tab and you’ll be able to see how valuable the traffic from Facebook really is to your business. This is sometimes all you need to calculate your social media ROI. In this example of an Adept client, you can see that 6% of all Facebook traffic makes a purchase and outperforms the average visitor by 230%! Also, you can see that the average visitor from Facebook is worth $6.13!! That is 230% more valuable than the average site visitor. Can you say, “mo money!?” If that doesn’t justify spending more time and more money on Facebook, I’m not sure what does.


Social Media Marketing ROI Facebook Columbus, Ohio 

The same method works for Twitter (or any other referring site) by simply typing the keyword in the “Filter containing” box.

Cool, huh? Ready to take it one step further?

Google Analytics – Destination URL Tagging

This method for measuring social media success is much more customizable and gives you a lot of control over what you want to measure.

GA allows you to add a few variables to the end of any URL that will be captured in your analytics profile anytime that URL is visited.

The most commonly used variables are Source, Medium and Campaign.

Here is an example...

The page you want users to visit when they click your link on Twitter is

As mentioned previously, Google Analytics will track that the user came from the “Twitter” domain but you won’t know where specifically. With URL tagging, you can add the following to the end of the link and have tons more data.

“” - This is the address of the page/website to which you want to point traffic.

“?utm_source=twitter” – This example tells GA to log any visitor who clicked this link as coming from Twitter.

“?utm_medium=JustinsProfile” – This tells GA to log the visit as from Twitter and part of “JustinsProfile.” You can use the same link and only change the medium to track multiple profiles on Twitter individually but within the "Twitter" primary referral source. So, you could change it to “BriansProfile” and track which traffic from Twitter is coming from Justin vs. Brian.

“utm_campaign=WhatWeDo” – This tells GA that the traffic from this link is part of the campaign we are calling "WhatWeDo."

So the final URL would look like this:

You can literally put anything you want as the source, medium or campaign and Google Analytics will automatically capture and organize the data with those variables. There is no additional set-up required in Google Analytics. If you have the basic tracking scripts in place on your site, this will work automatically.

To view the data, you simple log-in to Google Analytics and click “Traffic Sources” > “All Traffic Sources.” Then, under the graph, change “Show: Source Medium” in the drop down to just “Source.” This will display all Sources and after you have data for your URL tags, your sources will appear in this view. You can click any source to view the “medium” and click any medium to view the “campaigns.”

In the image below, we track “members” as the Source. Then, by clicking the “members” source, we can see that all traffic in that source came from the Medium “email.”



To easily create these types of URLs, check out this great tool provided by my friends at ROI Revolution.

"But it’s too long!"

I know what you are thinking… “If I add all that tracking stuff to my URL, it will be long and take up way too much space on Twitter and Facebook.”

Agreed. But there is a simple solution and it's called Bilty. Bitly allows you to shorten any URL just like does except with Bitly, you can track how many clicks your links generate. You’ll have the data in Google Analytics but it’s nice to have a simple back up!

I use Bitly to measure a lot of things for my client social media programs. For example, if you are sharing someone else's blog post on Twitter you won’t be able to use the Google Analytics destination URL tagging to see how many clicks your tweet generates. Your Google Analytics account doesn’t grab data on that blog so you won't have any idea how much interest you generated. That's where Bitly comes in and allows you to track how many times a link is clicked no matter where that link happens to travel in cyber space.


BItly Social Media Measurement