Do you ever share links on your personal social accounts? While there are many reasons why you may want to do that, did you know that it's important to link back to your own website from all of your social media profiles?
This is especially true if you're using a URL shortener with UTM parameters. We'll get into what those are in just a minute.
For right now though, let's discuss something more basic. You've probably seen how other people link back to their websites when they share things on Twitter or Facebook , right? When someone shares an article about phones, phones might be included in the actual content of the tweet along with the name of the author and perhaps even who wrote it for whom--but often times, the tweet will also say something like "via @TechCrunch".
This is what's known as a branded link. Whether it's used in email signatures or Twitter profiles, brands often want to include their website URL so that people know where they're coming from.
It makes sense not just for individuals but for businesses themselves to do the same thing. You don't want anyone who stumbles upon your social media accounts thinking that you're actually just an individual with personal opinions and corporate endorsements rather than an actual brand representative simply because you neglected to put in your company website on all of your web presences. With some easy-to-pick-up strategies, you can make sure that nobody gets confused about where you stand when it comes down to your company's brand.
There are actually a few different ways that you can do this in conjunction with social media, including the use of URL shorteners, UTM parameters, and Bitly . To start with let's talk about what URL shorteners are.
URL Shorteners & UTM Parameters
A URL shortened is an automatically-generated link to any website or file on the Internet which wraps around another web address. These are often used for things like Twitter posts because its tweets only allow 140 characters per message--and they're also used in email signatures when links tend to be too long to fit within certain character limitations. They're most commonly seen using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer where all of your most-used URLs are canned and ready to be pasted into your social posts.
However, they can also be used together with UTM parameters which are inserted into the URL itself before the actual website address to help track who's sending people to where. This helps you see how much traffic is actually coming from social media sources so that you know which social networks are driving the most people or conversions for your business.
What You Need to Know - A Quick Tutorial on UTM Parameters & Bitly
To set this up yourself, it takes only a few minutes once you understand what each thing does . The first part of any link shortener code is something called "UTM". It looks like this: utm_source=facebook &utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=phone-blogpost&__key__=KEY
If you're using the popular link shortener Bitly, they'll append most of these parameters for you automatically. Here's what each one does:
Source - This is the social platform that you used to send people to your website. For example, with Facebook it would be "facebook". You can use this to see how much traffic comes from your personal accounts versus any corporate accounts on your business's behalf. Medium - This is the type of campaign--which means whether or not it was paid (such as promoted Tweets) or organic (meaning non-paid like hashtags). If multiple kinds are happening at once, you can choose one or mix them together to see what happens. Campaign - This is the name of the campaign/promotion that you are running. It's typically best to name it after your website, product, or service. This lets you see how much traffic relates back to specific campaigns which helps you determine ROI (return on investment). So for example, if I wanted to track my personal link shortener code and it looks like this: utm_source=facebook &utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=phone-blogpost&__key__=KEY
My campaign would be "phone-blogpost". If yours is branded differently than your website URL itself, make sure to change it accordingly. Keyword - The final piece is a keyword parameter which helps identify any additional information related to the medium and campaign. For example, if you're using Google Adwords to promote your business, the "keyword" might be an exact search like "smartphone cases". On Facebook, it could simply be your website name or product name instead of something that's visible on the page (like an image or word in the post) since they can't track that information yet.
Now let's say my Bitly link shortener is set up like this: utm_source=facebook &utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=phone-blogpost&__key__=KEY
If I posted this to Twitter, Facebook, the company blog, the Google+ page for my company. Bitly would show me how much traffic comes from each of those places--so if Rick wanted to see all of his personal social networking activities combined he could simply use one link shortener on any platform that allowed him to shorten links!
Which brings us to where still more people get confused: Bitly itself. You probably noticed some additional parameters in the URL above that are tagged onto yours which look like this: & [email protected] & __a=1 & __rnd=1401127423343 So what do they mean?
Bitly - If you're using Bitly (which is likely), this parameter lets Bitly know which shortener account to use. It's like how Facebook and Twitter also set up their own profiles on the service. If you want to be sure that your link shortener shows up everywhere, it should include this at the end of your custom URL...but sometimes (not always) it may not and Bitly might still work anyway.
Email & Password - This next one needs to be kept secret because it gives anyone who knows your email/password access to all of your shortened links and activity through Bitly. Since we aren't going to share any links here as an example, just leave those blank as well as password unless you're comfortable with showing us your Bitly profile!
Followers & Following - This is a value that's unique to you which keeps track of how many people follow you on various social networks. Each time someone clicks a link from one of your social profiles, they get counted here--like a form of "social proof." The higher the number, the more likely it is for other people to click links from your account because you already have a following. It helps build trust and credibility so if you ever want to post links without adding anything else (such as writing an entire blog post), it might be worth doing so since people are more likely to read it through.
RAND/Time-based - The last two parameters tell Bitly how to identify which link gets counted as the original one and how often it should be shared. The first one ( __rnd ) is a random number between 0 and 100,000 so the lower the number the more likely it is that someone will click on your link--but if you're using it for benchmarks only, simply replace this with 1. If you use an email address or phone number instead of a user value in any of your shortened URLs then it automatically becomes time-based and uses their last visit date to your website. You can also remove either parameter depending upon how you'd like to track sessions/clicks though I recommend removing both.
Conclusion - As you can see, there are some additional parameters are required by Bitly
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