social media how toDo you know if your social media promotions or campaigns were successful?

For many businesses, it can be easy to label a social campaign a huge hit or a blatant blunder, but which elements made the campaign successful?

There are an array of powerful and free tools that can be used to help you understand the successes and failures of your social media promotion or campaign.

Let’s dive into four easy ways you can use free products to break down the different elements of a social promotion.

#1: Track Actions Visitors Take

One way to better understand your social campaign as a whole is to understand how your users find out about it.

Event Tracking, as mentioned in my previous post on integrating social media on your website, has the ability to report the behavior of website visitors by tracking certain actions they take.

For example, Event Tracking can be used to track the number of times a video on your site is played, a file is downloaded or a certain link is clicked.

For this article, I will focus on how you can use Event Tracking to show when individuals exit your website to your social media outlets.

Event Tracking can help marketers answer questions like:

  • Are the social media buttons on my website visible and easily accessible?
  • Are my website visitors interested in my social media pages?
  • Am I doing an effective job of displaying the current social media promotion on my website?

This information is beneficial in helping you to:

  • Understand how your users are finding your social outlets.
  • Recognize the way they interact with your brand online.
  • Identify areas of improvement in regard to your social share plug-ins or buttons.

For complete steps on how to add the actual tracking code to your website, visit Google Support here. They do an excellent job of breaking down the steps. If you need more assistance, Google Basic Tracking starts at a lower level.

Once installed, you will be able to determine the number of people clicking on your social media buttons from your website during the length of your social campaign.

If you don’t have access to the actual nuts and bolts of your site, fear not. There are other ways you can easily get information about the details of your social promotion in points #2 through #4.

#2: Identify Social Actions Generating the Most Traffic

Many business owners are familiar with seeing Twitter or Facebook as referral traffic in their Google Analytics accounts. This is often a result of a social media campaign that pushes users to the website for one reason or another; for example, a tweet that describes a sweepstakes on Facebook with a link to the rules found on your website’s blog.

Although you’re able to see that the user came from Facebook or Twitter to your sweepstakes rules, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to identify which tweet or post from your social outlets generated the most quality clicks to that page?

Google URL Builder allows you to do just that and it’s a great way to see which variation of a tweet or post harnessed the most quality clicks. Over the lifetime of a campaign, you’re able to come to conclusions about which tweet or post resonated best with your fans and followers or captured the attention of the social sphere as a whole.

How to Set Up Google Analytics URL Builder

First and foremost, you must have access to your website’s Google Analytics.

  • Go to Google Analytics URL Builder.
  • Copy and paste the website URL you will be linking to in your social media promotion.
    google url builder

    The Google URL Builder makes it simple to create custom links.

  • Fill out the campaign information so it’s easy for you to understand the elements of the campaign later. The three most important elements in understanding the data later will be Campaign Source, Campaign Medium and Campaign Name. The rest you can leave blank.
  • Keep a record of what you enter so that you can refer to it later.

How to Fill Out Campaign Information

campaign terms

Organizing your information correctly will ensure that you understand the results later.

  • Copy and paste the generated link into a link shortener and then into your campaign tweet or post.

How It Will Look in Google Analytics

To help you better understand how to organize your campaign, I will show you a campaign that I set up as an example. The social promotion seemed to be a success overall with more than 5,000 entries in a two-week period; however, the Google URL Builder allows me to dig deeper. (A big shout-out to for allowing me to use these screenshots.)

The information seen below corresponds to the information I entered into the Google URL Builder in the example above.

For this example, I used the Google URL Builder to create two different links to a sweepstakes rules webpage that I included in two different tweets promoting the same Valentine’s Day Facebook sweepstakes.

I pushed them out at alternating times (9 am and 4 pm) and days so that each variation of the tweet was sent the same number of times and had the opportunity to be seen at the same time of day as the other.

In this instance, I was attempting to keep my time constant (although there is some room for error here) and focus strictly on which tweet language generated more quality clicks. To see the results of your own social media promotion, follow these steps:

  • Log into your Google Analytics account.
  • Under Traffic Sources in the left navigation, click Sources and then Campaigns.
  • Under Campaigns, click the name of your campaign. This will be what you entered under “Campaign Name.” Mine was Vday Sweepstakes.
    select your campaign

    Click Traffic Sources, Campaigns and then select your campaign.

  • Under Campaigns, you should be able to see the links you built. Mine are Social Media/Twitter and Social Media/Twitter 2.
    sweepstakes campaign

    The links I created are displayed under my Vday Sweepstakes Campaign.

The Results

At first glance, it appears as though the two tweets were essentially equal with one generating 18 clicks and the other 19 clicks.

Upon further inspection, it’s clear that one outperformed the other in regards to Average Time on Site and Bounce Rate. This means that one tweet generated far higher quality clicks than the other, in that people actually stuck around to read about how to enter the sweepstakes.

average time on site

The second tweet's link generated more high-quality clicks than the first.

The Better Tweet

The Not So Great Tweet

How to Do it Next Time

It’s clear that the tweet that described the sweepstakes in more detail generated more quality traffic than the one that simply listed the prize and name of the sweepstakes. This is information that I can consider when constructing future promotions on Twitter.

Obviously, this is a very small sample and many times you may find that the information you get is inconclusive. In this example I used language, but you can also use time of day, hashtag variations and other elements to help identify which method works best.

#3: Find Out if Your Social Promotion Grew Legs

Another product that can be used to tap into the power of Google to measure the success of your social media campaign is Google Alerts. Google Alerts allows you to see other places on the web that picked up your social promotion and delivers the information straight to your inbox.

Google Alerts can help you answer questions like:

  • Did my sweepstakes grow legs and become viral?
  • Were there other outlets that featured my promotion that I don’t know about?

Most times, if another major outlet picked up your promotion, you’ll most likely get a clue from Google Analytics because you’ll see referral traffic from the source that reposted it. But what if the outlet wasn’t linking to your website, but rather the social media page that the promotion was hosted on? This is where Google Alerts really comes in handy.

google alerts

Google Alerts allows you to get real-time updates sent directly to your inbox so you can use them throughout the duration of your campaign.

Google Alerts helps illustrate outside factors that affected your promotion’s success. If an outlet picked up the promotion, it might be worth grabbing their contact information and shooting them a thank-you email.

Identifying key individuals or outlets serves as a great way to build relationships within the social sphere and to start to compile a list of individuals and outlets to reach out to the next time you run a social media promotion.

To set up an alert, simply fill out the information you want to see and how you want to receive it:

  • Search Query can be as broad or narrow as you choose. Entering the full name of your promotion might work best.
  • Result Type allows you to select where you want Google to look. You can pick from Everything, News, Blogs, Discussions, Video and Books.
  • How Often provides options like As It Happens, Once a Day or Once a Week so you can tailor it to your needs.
  • How Many will allow you to select from all results or results Google deems the best. You can set up several alerts and manage them from your Gmail account.

#4: Get Real-Time Alerts

Like Google Alerts, Google Analytics Alerts are useful while the campaign is still running, in that they can assist you to stay up to date with the success of your promotion. This is especially significant if you work for an agency that runs several promotions at once. It also proves useful for small businesses that do not have time to check their Google Analytics accounts every day.

Netvantage Marketing managing partner Adam Henige says:

A lot of people don’t think about keeping tabs on social media with Google Analytics Alerts, but it can be a handy tool to monitor crazy traffic spikes from social sources.

Just head into Alerts and set up an alert for a significant increase in day-to-day traffic from Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and you’ll get email updates when traffic starts falling from the sky.

To set up an alert in Google Analytics:

  • Log into your Google Analytics account.
  • Select the account/website you wish to set an alert for.
  • Click the Settings button in the upper-right corner.
  • Under Profiles, click Assets > Custom Alerts > Create an Alert.

    Click on Profiles, Assets and Custom Alerts to create an alert.

  • Under Alert Name, enter something that will be easy to recognize when you receive the email.
  • The Period will depend on how long your promotion is running. For short promotions, a day works well.
  • Under This Applies To, select Traffic Sources > Source, and under Conditions select Contains Twitter. This will send you alerts about the traffic you’re receiving from Twitter. You can play with these options to receive different alerts about different outlets such as YouTube, Pinterest or Facebook.
  • Under Alert Me When, select Visits and under Condition select a number that makes sense for you. If you’re looking for spikes in traffic, you will want to put Previous Day as the Compared To value. For this one, I chose 50% more traffic than the previous day.
    create alert

    You can tailor these alerts to notify you of important information in your particular social promotion or campaign.

Overall, these tools can assist businesses to understand which portions of their social campaigns were successes and determine which areas could use improvement next time around.

What do you think? How do you use Google products to help measure the successes of social campaigns? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • $44796859

    Thank you for all of that advice. For those of us on a limited (or zero!) budget, these kinds of tracking tools are essential for measuring social media campaign activity and ROI. 🙂

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  • Mallory,

    A tool is only as good (or effectively) as the person using them. That being said, these tips are very straight forward and helpful.

    Thanks for the advice!

  • TripleStories

    Some great tips and ideas in here. Thanks for sharing! 

  • Gideon Teubl

    Great tips, thank you Mallory.

    I’am going to try them out.


  • Jack Harrington

    As usual, these tips–good as they are–do not provide the most basic measurement of all: given the investment of time and whatever expense, how much new revenue ultimately resulted? Income is the only reason for business marketing, regardless of the media used. Testing for these data are essential.

  • asif

    I loved this , wow, what a great information. 

  • This is a great way to get some sweet data, with out the price tag of some really high end social media tools. I have been using Raven Tools which I love to track our social media, but this is a great way to dial down and run numbers on specific campaigns. 

    Keep up the Great Posts!

  • Melissa P

    awesome article! 

  • Mallory I was only relying on Google Analytics but not on the URL Builder because I manage many of clients social media campaigns but never think about this experiment. Very potential, useful and helpful thank you for taking the time to write this great post.

  • Mallory, thanks for the article. Just wondering why you are referring to the old way of measuring social media in Google Analytics (via the URL Builder) and not referring to the new Social Statistics in Google Analytics. You get info on Sources, Pages, Conversions (with Assisted and Last Interaction Analysis!), Social Plugins (stats on your social media buttons on your website) and Social Visitor Flow.

  • Jen

    Thank you so much.  Jen Fitzgerald  Munro Accountants

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  • Ray

    Nice set of tips. You can never have enough stats these days I guess. Keeping up with all of these things is another story though.

  • Thanks for this very important info you’d shared with us. I really need this tools in the upcoming days to measure and track my efforts.

  • Google Analytics is one of the best website activity tracking tool and too free of cost. I know many of user including me not aware how to use it at its best. But you’ve really mentioned few tips amazingly. 

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thank you for reading. I agree, completely! 

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Agreed. Thank you for reading! I’m glad that you found it useful.

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thank you for reading!

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thank you for reading! Come back and let me know how they worked out for you.

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Hi Jack, thank you for taking the time to read. The point you make is a good one; however, these tools are primarily to be used to see the effectiveness of individual social campaigns. You can then later use this information to measure the success of your overall social strategy against time/investment. These are the small pieces of the puzzle that will give measurables later on when it comes time to analyze your social strategy for the year and decide where you need to improve and where you had successes.  

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thanks for reading!

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thanks for reading, Tim! It is always nice to take advantage of free tools, especially if they provide added value. 

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thank you for reading Melissa!

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Hi Mark, thanks for reading! It is mostly just a preference. Because I use other more sophisticated social reporting software, when it comes to measuring individual campaigns, I find this method more effective for separating data. I’m not a big fan of Google’s Social Stats, mostly because they favor Google+ and require full fledged website integration. These are just fast tips for ways people can get more information about individual campaigns; however, many do find Social Statistics helpful. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thanks for reading!

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Agreed, Ray. Thanks for reading!

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thanks for reading!

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thank you for reading and your kind comments.

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thank you for reading!

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thank you for reading! I’m glad it was useful to you. 

  • Mallory, 

    Good recommendations. While there are a number of paid for tools that can aggregate much of this into one platform, for a marketer on a limited budget these are good ways to track activities. One piece you might add is setting up unique landing pages on your site for the special promotions, then using Google Analytics Goals to measure inbound and approximate value for reaching the destination page. Again still free. 

  • The detail and explanation you offer is phenomenal. The charts were a great addition. Thanks

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  • thanks mallory for this excellent job in order to measure our social activities through such informative tips!

  • Kevin Kavanagh

    Love your article I really enjoyed it, you might like to know that I’ve some great online social Media tips at my website 

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  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    So happy you found it useful. Thank you for reading!

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thank you for reading Kevin! I’ll have to check it out.

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thank you for reading!

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  • Great article!  I love that you showed the “what’s next” instead of just looking at getting more fans, followers, etc.  It’s also really helpful that you provided tools and how-to for doing this.  

  • Mallorly   This is a great article. But I currentlly use a Free Service from a company called  What do you think of them  Mark     

  • Great stuff 🙂

  • Awesome! Everyone is on social media, but not many know how to measure social media success. Great!

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  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Michele, thank you so much for the insightful feedback and for reading! 🙂

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  • Assaf

    You can use the chrome extension for Google Url Builder. it has Bit.lty inside, auto-capture URL, pre-configured sets for quick use and more… 

  • Excellent advice, thank you very much for your article!

  • Angelique Mitchell

    This is wonderful information, Mallory!  Thank you for sharing.  I did have one question as it relates to email newsletters.  Our newsletters include articles from our blog.  The articles posted on the blog are shared between Twitter and LinkedIn as well.  We also have social media links to our channels featured in the newsletter.  I want to track just how many folks are getting to us via the newsletter to the blog to our website – or through these other channels to measure the impact of our newsletter.  It’s easy to notice the spikes in traffic on days 1-3 as a direct correlation, but what about 7 days later when folks who were on vacation read the post from the newsletter? Ideally be able to see that clearly in Google Analytics than the manual process I take to demonstrate this.  I’m not sure if URL Builder is the medium in which to do this or not.  Any ideas?

  • Alex

    Nice article, definitely going to help us out. One other
    tool that I found useful was Fanplayr. It lets you gamify your social marketing
    campaign which makes a fun and pleasant way for clients to shop 🙂

  • Hi Mallory, as you are writing about URL Builder, you can also try Simple Tag:

    Tagging URLs with Simple Tag is really easy – just one click to the button…


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  • You guys are just amazing.. I’ve been doing social media marketing for 4 years now and i still learn new things in every post i read at this site.

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    I’m thrilled to hear that! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thank you for reading! 🙂

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    I don’t have any personal experience with that particular tool, Mark! How do you like it?

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thanks for bringing this up! There are indeed other ways to capture the URLs you need to track. Thank you for reading and your insightful feedback!

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Thank you for the tip- and for reading! I’ll have to check it out.

  • Mallory L. Woodrow

    Hi Angelique, my apologies for the delay in response! Let me see if I understand correctly, you want to see the number of people that click from your newsletter to your blog to your website? Is your blog hosted on your website? Google URL builder is best suited for one click measuring- it’s easy and fast! If you’d like to discuss this, shoot me an e-mail. I have an idea if you are still looking for solutions. Mlorenw at gmail dot com. Thanks for reading and your kind words! 

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  • google alerts! –  I have heard so heard so much it but have not rolled it into my strategy, maybe its times 

  • Anne Marusic

    Thank you so much for this helpful article and I have found this site in general is great. 🙂

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  • Lauren B

    Mallory and staff: I know this article was written a year ago, but I am just now starting to use Google URL Builder. I spent two hours setting up tweets that have been running for the last two days now. I don’t have any data showing up in Google Analytics under “Campaigns”, however, so I’m wondering how long it takes for the data to come in, and/or if this just means that my URLs are just not being clicked. (Big sad face, if so.) Thanks!