Twitter meets Google Analytics

Repost by Google Analytics Blogger Justin Cutroni

A couple of weeks ago I decided to start Twittering. I’ve had a Twitter account for a while, but never really got into it. But after observing some friends for a while, and reading up on how others use Twitter, I started to see some value in the service.

One thing I’ve noticed is the amount of promotion done with Twitter. Whether it be self promotion, like me promoting a blog post, or corporate promotion, like a sale, people are driving traffic to websites using tweets (posts on Twitter). Check out how CNN is driving traffic to their Political Ticker blog using Twitter.

Here’s another great example that was mentioned on the GokDotCom blog. Bryan Eisenberg found a t-shirt coupon posted as a tweet and passed the information on to his coworkers. Here’s the original tweet that Bryan read and sent on via email (I assume he used email):

Who wants a FREE $50 gift code? Here it is: TLTW7897 First come, first serve – and all tees are ON SALE FOR $12!! http://tinyurl.com/yqe9f

This got me thinking, how are people tracking Twitter as a marketing activity using Google Analytics?

Default Tracking Method

By default, traffic from Twitter will be tracked as referral traffic in Google Analytics. if someone clicks on a link to your site from a tweet you will see ‘www.twitter.com’ in the Referrals report.

This data will give you a basic idea of how much traffic your tweets are generating. It’s good, but there is an issue.

What happens if your tweet gets passed along to others, as it did in Bryan’s case? Bryan’s co-workers never clicked on a link at twitter.com, they received a link in an email. How can we identify these visitors as coming from Twitter and not an email?

Preferred Tracking Method

A better way to track a Twitter campaign would be to use GA’s campaign tracking feature. This method will track anyone visiting the site as a result of your tweet, regardless of where they clicked on the URL. It doesn’t matter if it’s in an email client, hosted email app. etc.

Here’s how to make it happen.

Most tweets that include a URL use some type of URL shortening service, like Tinyurl.com. This service shortens a URL by creating a redirect that is hosted on http://www.tinyurl.com.

The cool thing about Tiny URL is you can add GA’s campaign tracking parameters to your Tiny URL, thus encoding campaign info into the URL you use in your tweet. When someone forwards your tweet using email the tiny URL will contain campaign info identifying the visitor’s source as your Twitter campaign.

This is the secret to tracking tweets with GA: adding campaign information to your tiny URL.

Here’s an example. Here’s a tweet that I posted with a link to this blog:

Help me test tracking Twitter with Google Analytics: Please click on this link http://tinyurl.com/5eyfjo

I added GA campaign parameters to the Tiny URL in the tweet above. If you click the tiny URL in my tweet you get this URL:

http://www.epikone.com/blog/?utm_campaign=blog& utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=micro-blog

The campaign information in the URL will bucket the visitor as part of the blog campaign and as someone who was reached by the ‘micro-blogging’ medium. Here’s how the data looks in the All Traffic Sources report:

There it is in all its glory. But let’s dig deeper. I’m really interested in knowing how people are using Twitter. Are they on their mobile (like me) or PC? This can have a big impact on how they interact with my tweet. Let’s segment the tweet by OS:

7 of 25 users are on the iPhone, interesting. I know that I’m an iPhone user and it’s one of the only reasons I twitter. It’s just easy on the iPhone! 🙂

So if you’re using Twitter to drive traffic to a site:

1. Always use a Tiny URL
2. Always add Google Analytics campaign tracking information to your Tiny URL

If you’re unfamiliar with campaign tracking you may want to check out these posts:

Google Analytics Campaign Tracking Pt. 0: An Overview
Google Analytics Campaign Tracking Pt. 1: Link Tagging
Google Analytics Campaign Tracking Pt. 2: The EpikOne Link Tagging Tool

Update: You can use a number of URL shortening services such as TwwetBurner and SnipURL. Both of these services also provide some basic reports on the number of clicks your shortened URLs generate.

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~ by vwbora25 on 10/17/2008.

2 Responses to “Twitter meets Google Analytics”

  1. There’s a more elegant way to do this also seo friendly. Have a look here: http://redir.ec/twittertracking

  2. How does twitter work? If you post a message on your twitter can someone else reply to it?
    if yes, where does this reply show up? who can see the reply?

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