URL Tracking

URL Tracking in Sprout Social helps you determine the impact of your digital campaigns so you can see the ROI of your social content and optimize accordingly. URL Tracking is a great way to prove how the work you’re doing on social directly impacts leads, sales and growth for your company. 

With URL 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.

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

Read more about URL Tracking for campaigns.

Note: Only Account Owners and users with Manage Profiles and Permissions can configure URL Tracking.

This article contains the following sections:

URL Tracking Scenarios

To fully understand URL Tracking and its benefits, let’s look at a quick scenario.

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. Thus the social media manager needs to create URL Tracking rules to ensure the traffic gets captured.

UTM parameters are used to track the effectiveness of a social campaign in analytics tools like Google Analytics. Sprout enables social media managers to specify specific UTM parameters to capture this data.

The social media manager sets the utm_campaign parameter to a Custom Value 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 “Twitter” when publishing to Twitter. If they were publishing to multiple networks, the networks appear in alphabetical order in a list separated by commas.

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

Finally, they’ll define utm_content 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.

Now, they’ll 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 URL Tracking rules are automatically applied and traffic is captured in Google Analytics.

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Additional URL Tracking Scenarios

  • 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.

Creating URL Tracking Rules

In order to automatically add the tracking parameters to the links you share in Sprout, you must create URL Tracking Rules. With these rules, you can specify the social network, account and other values to ensure you’re properly tracking links. 

Automatic URL  tracking is set up at the group level, so you need to add rules for each group in your Publishing Settings.

If you want your URL 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.

To create new URL tracking rules:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Publishing Settings.
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  2. Click Add URL under URL Tracking. The Add URL Tracking popup appears.
  3. Enter the URL you want to track. When you add this URL to your posts in compose, the UTM parameters you define get automatically appended to the URL in Compose.
    • Note: The URL you enter in Compose must be an exact match to the URL you specify in the URL tracking rules.
  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. Select if you want to Apply the tracking parameters to all links for the post.
  7. Click Save.

Note: 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.

After you save your URL tracking rules, the UTM parameters you define are automatically added in the Attached Link area and the message text area in Compose. 

After you enter the link in Compose, the rules you define automatically populate:

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Whereas in the Attached Link section, you see more details and the ability to edit the tracking link:

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

Editing your Tracking Rules

You can edit your URL Tracking Rules within Compose when you create a new message.

To edit your URL Tracking Rules:

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

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

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

URL Tracking Tips

Sprout's URL Tracking Tips for Facebook & LinkedIn

  • If you don’t want your UTM changes to apply to all links, deselect Apply to All Links.
  • 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 Twitter, even if a Twitter 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 URL Tracking Tips for Twitter

  • 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 Twitter in your URL 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 Twitter, only shorten the links once all changes are made.
  • When you’re only posting to Twitter, the Attached Link section doesn’t appear in Compose because links and message text are considered one entity on Twitter.
  • When using the Schedule + Duplicate workflow, the UTM doesn’t update if the link is shortened.

Google Analytics

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To view your URL 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)

to evaluate the performance and ROI of your social campaigns sent from Sprout.

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