How do I use Link Tracking?

Link Tracking helps you determine the impact of your digital campaigns so you can see the ROI of your social content and optimize accordingly.

The automatic population of link tracking rules is available on Sprout’s Advanced+ Plan. However, in the Professional plan you can manually add tracking parameters to links you share through Sprout to appear in your analytics tools.

With Link Tracking, you create tracking rules to automatically append parameters to your links in the posts you share in Sprout. These parameters then add the tracking results in your analytics tools, such as Google Analytics. 

However, it's important to note, that GA4 is the only supported version for UTM links posted after July 1, 2023. If you want to keep your link tracking up-to-date and accurate, you must migrate from UA to GA4.

This article contains the following sections:

What are some Link Tracking scenarios?

Sprout Coffee wants to measure traffic from the brand’s social channels to the site www.sproutcoffee.com/careers for the announcement of a new set of open roles. As a result, the social media manager needs to create Link Tracking rules to ensure the traffic gets captured.

To get started, the social media manager names the parameter set and then selects Custom Value for the utm_campaign parameter and enters Recruitment.

For utm_source, they’ll leave the value as the default Social Network. The source shows as the name of the network the post is published to. For example, the source appears as “X” when publishing to X. If they were publishing to multiple networks, the networks appear in alphabetical order in a list separated by commas.

For utm_medium, they’ll change the value to Social Account because any incoming traffic is resulting from posts to one of the social channels.

For utm_content, they'll leave the default as a Unique ID for the value. This means Sprout generates a unique ID every time the link is used, so any incoming traffic is attributed to specific outgoing messages.

Next, they'll enter www.sproutcoffee.com/careers in URL Matching and review a live preview of the link to verify the correct tracking information appears. They’ll click Save to save the tracking rules. Now whenever the link www.sproutcoffee.com/careers is added to Compose, the Link Tracking rules are automatically applied and traffic is captured in Google Analytics.

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Additional scenarios include:

  • A company wants to easily roll up all social traffic to their domain from posts published in Sprout within Google Analytics so that they can see it as a single channel.
  • A marketing manager asks a community manager to promote the launch of a new product and wants to easily track conversions on the new website without the community manager having to think about it at all.
  • A community manager wants to compare the conversions occurring as a result of posting to individual networks at one time vs. multiple times.

How do I create Link Tracking rules?

Only Account Owners and users with Manage URL Tracking permissions can configure Link Tracking. Setting up Link Tracking via the Publishing Settings is only available to users on the Advanced+ Plan and set up at the group level, so you need to add rules for each group in your Publishing Settings.

With these rules, you can specify the social network, account and other values to ensure you’re properly tracking links. 

To create new Link tracking rules:

    1. Navigate to Settings > Publishing > Link Tracking.
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    2. Click Add Parameter set. The Add Link Tracking Parameters pop up appears.

    3. Give your parameter set a Name.
    4. Define your default parameters. Default parameters include the campaign name, source and medium. To do this:
      1. Select the value you want to use from the dropdown. Choose from:
        • Social Network
        • Social Account
        • Message Tags
        • Unique ID
        • First 25 Characters of Post
        • Custom Value
      2. Enter any additional information for the value you select.
      3. Select whether to enable or disable the parameter.
    5. (Optional) To define any custom parameters:
      1. Specify a parameter name of at most 100 characters.
      2. Select the value you want to use from the dropdown.
      3. Enter any additional information for the value you select.
    6. (Optional) Enter the URL you want to track in URL Matching. This parameter set automatically applies to a URL within Compose if it matches the URL input here.
      • Note: The URL you enter in Compose must be an exact match to the URL you specify in the URL tracking rules.
    7. Preview the link.
    8. Click Save.

If the domain you enter is www.sproutsocial.com, UTM parameters appear only when the exact link www.sproutsocial.com is entered into the Compose window. sproutsocial.com without the subdomain www is considered a separate link, so the UTM parameters wouldn’t appear.

If you want your link tracking to apply to each network, add the dynamic parameter value Social Network in your link. An exception to this is if you shorten your link in a multi-network post before you publish. When you shorten links, it combines the tracking to include all networks selected in your post. Either leave your links un-shortened or use the Schedule + Duplicate workflow to schedule and shorten each link individually.

How do I use Link Tracking rules?

If you have added a URL to URL Matching in your parameter set, the UTM parameters automatically populate when you enter the exact link in Compose.

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If you haven't added a URL to URL Matching in your parameter set, you can add the UTM parameters to any link in Compose:

      1. Click the link in Compose.
      2. Select Edit in the Edit Link Tracking pop up.
      3. Choose a saved parameter set from the dropdown.
      4. Preview the link.
      5. Click Save.

If you shorten links, it’s important to note that the tracking parameters don’t update by network when using the Schedule + Duplicate feature.

How do I edit my tracking rules?

You can edit or remove your Link Tracking Rules within Compose when you create a new message by either editing individual parameters or choosing from a saved parameter set.

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To edit your Link Tracking Rules:

      1. Navigate to Compose.
      2. Select the profiles you want to publish to.
      3. Enter your message and the URL you want to add.
      4. Click the URL in the Compose window, and then click Edit link tracking.
      5. Make any changes and verify your changes in the Link Preview area.
      6. Click Save.

You can also manually edit your parameters directly in the link from Compose.

If you edit your Link Tracking Rules or change profiles after shortening a link, you must re-shorten the link before you post.

What are some Link Tracking tips?

Sprout's Link Tracking Tips for Facebook & LinkedIn

      • If you don’t want your UTM changes to apply to all links, deselect Apply these tracking parameters to all links on this post.
      • When you make UTM changes in Compose, updates appear in the Attached Link area for Facebook and LinkedIn, but not in the Message Text area. The updates also don’t appear for X, even if an X profile is selected in the Profile Picker.
      • When you edit UTM parameters from Compose, make sure to remove the link from the Message Text area, so your audience has only one link to click.

Sprout's Link Tracking Tips for X

      • When you edit links from Compose, UTM changes only work with the current Setting Rules.
      • When you need to edit campaign names frequently, set the Campaign Name to Message Tags for X in your Link Tracking Rules. This way, you can use a message tag to change that field on-the-fly from Compose.
      • When you need to shorten links for X, only shorten the links once all changes are made.
      • When you’re only posting to X, the Attached Link section doesn’t appear in Compose because links and message text are considered one entity on X.
      • When using the Schedule + Duplicate workflow, the UTM doesn’t update if the link is shortened.

How do I view my Link Tracking data in Google Analytics?

To view your Link Tracking data in Google Analytics, navigate to Reporting > Acquisition > Campaigns. Here, you can sort and analyze campaign data by:

      • Campaign
      • Source
      • Medium
      • Content (Ad Content)

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