5 Most Common Mistakes in Tagging Links to Track Performance of Social Media

Social Media evolves as a marketing medium and so do the performance metrics. If a year ago it was OK to measure the success in the number of “Likes” a Facebook page has, then nowadays marketers put more rigorous measurement practices into evaluating the performance of their social media efforts.

One of the most common efforts is tagging the links that are published to social media. Tagging links allows tracking traffic and conversions from social media that are taking place on advertisers’ websites, but requires a lot of manual input. Moreover, the process of tagging links is a subject to human error, so we decided to highlight 5 most common mistakes marketers make.

Mistake #1: Not tagging links at all
That’s an obvious one, right? However, if you take a look at the Facebook pages of even the largest retailers, you will notice that very few are consistently tagging the links. Why is that a problem? Facebook (apparently due to privacy protection considerations) parses all outgoing traffic, which leaves a web analytics suite with very limited data about the source of traffic. Hence, if you use, for instance, Google Analytics, without tagging all traffic from Facebook (traffic from your fan page, ads, people sharing your content, etc.) will be put into one basket leaving you with little data for performance analysis.

Mistake #2: Limiting tagging to Bit.ly wrapper
Some of the marketers take a step further and shorten the links with a Bit.ly wrapper. Bit.ly is an amazing service that allows tracking clicks, get some insights into the demographics and sources of clicks. However, besides limited metrics, there is one more problem: Bit.ly, by default, reuses the same short link for each unique URL. Thus, if you use a campaign site and multiple channels (i.e. email and social), then all the data will be aggregated. It is very common to see 99% of the clicks on a given Bit.ly short link coming from an email distribution and only 1% coming from social media.

Mistake #3: Cross-posting tagged link
Another common mistake is cross-posting a tagged link into multiple social media channels. For instance, a link that was tagged with “source=Facebook_Page” is wrapped with Bit.ly shortener and cross-posted to Twitter. Logically, web analytics suite will attribute all traffic to Facebook, and Twitter will get no credit. Might look like a mistake, but we see it happening all the time!

Mistake #4: Not tagging links in replies
It is also very common NOT to tag links published in Twitter replies (even if tagging is properly implemented in regular tweets). Tagging takes time and requires a certain knowledge, so in most cases links in replies would be left untagged. As the result, the traffic coming from such replies would most likely be attributed to “earned” media (meaning, people sharing the links; logically, not tagged links) rather than to the “owned” channel of the advertiser. The “quick and dirty” solution would be to agree on a common tag for all replies and copy paste them to all links.

Mistake #5: Calling Facebook “Twitter”
The last one is mostly related to a human error or miscommunication between social media and web analytics teams: we see many links published to Facebook that are tagged for Twitter. This mistake is similar to cross-posting tagged links, meaning that it results in incorrect attribution of the traffic and conversions. Solution: just pay attention!

Hope you find it useful and let us know in the comments if we missed something!

Have a great weekend!