A beginner’s guide to social media lead tracking

Who says you can’t use social media to generate leads?

Social media’s primary function has never been direct lead/sales generation, but saying that you can’t attribute leads to social channels isn’t true either. In this guide, I’ll show you a few techniques you can apply to enable lead tracking from all your social platforms.

Knowing what you consider to be a lead is an important first step. From there, you can start to see how your potential customers interact with your social media channels and flow through to your website to complete a form or download some gated content.

In September 2014, Twitter announced its new ‘buy it now‘ feature for selected brands, so the future of direct social purchasing is just around the corner. However, if you are a services-based organisation, being able to monitor the effectiveness of your social presence should be an important part of your reporting structure.

How do you define a lead?

The very first thing to establish is how your business defines the leads it receives from various channels, especially from social media. No doubt you already have a clear vision of what constitutes an inbound opportunity from your email channels and physical events, but you may be scuppered by how you truly measure value from social media.

To keep things simple, let’s cover four main examples of inbound leads that could contribute to your marketing qualified lead (MQL) quota:

  • ‘Contact us’ web form
  • Newsletter sign-up
  • Phone call enquiry
  • Event/marketing show response

Social conversions reported by Google Analytics

What is your company’s digital marketing lead generation path?

Now we have decided what constitutes a marketing lead, we can start to evaluate the conversion path for each of these definitions with a starting point (social media) and an end point (lead). By predicting the journey a lead will take through your digital channels, we can establish the metrics by which each conversion can be measured and ticked-off as a recordable lead via social media.

The lead path could be arranged as follows:

  • Social media > ‘contact us’ page > lead
  • Social media > blog post > ‘contact us’ page > lead
  • Social media > blog post > phone call > lead
  • Social media > gated content (whitepaper/ebook etc.) > lead
  • Social media > newsletter sign-up > lead

The challenge for any social media marketer is to not only make the original source link/post/tweet as intriguing and interesting as possible to encourage clicks, but to also be able to track the results and identify the impact of the content published.

Social Media Prism by ethority

Define your audience across social channels

Once you have established what a lead means to you and where these leads might come from, you can start to plan your tactics in-line with your social media and marketing strategies. Content call-to-actions (CTAs) will differ on all social platforms due to the nature of each audience you are talking to.

This is because people use each social platform for different reasons. Therefore, you should know which audience you are communicating with when writing your social content. A compelling image and article link that works well on Facebook might not have the same effect on LinkedIn, for example.

Optimise your posts for each social platform to speak to that particular audience and make them intriguing by using different images, varying your language and tone, etc. How you display content on each channel is important too.

As part of your social strategy you should have already developed your audience targeting criteria, but if you haven’t got this far just yet or need some help in this area, check out our guide on how to target local customers using social media.

Now for the science bit

You’ve defined your lead types, the paths they may follow before conversion, and what social audiences you are approaching with your messages; so now we get to the results stage. How do you track your social media lead conversions?

Google Analytics – create goals for completed actions social contributed to

Within Google Analytics you can create goals that trigger when a particular action has occurred on your website. Start with a destination URL, which could be a ‘thank you for submitting the contact form’ page, or a ‘newsletter sign-up complete’ page. We explain how to set-up goals in Google Analytics here.

To show the conversion path from social media you will need to add your destination URL goal into a path funnel that details the site entry point. To be absolutely sure on which social campaigns are performing the best you can add UTM parameters to social links, which we explain below.

Adding UTM parameters to post links

To be even clearer on which social media efforts are the most rewarding, you can add UTM parameters to your linked posts. This will provide you with the click detail on general social referrals, but also which specific tweets/posts they originated from within Google Analytics.

Let’s set the scene: you run a string of holiday homes and over the summer period, competition with other destinations is fierce. As a result you decide to up your marketing efforts, including increased social media activity. How can you distinguish between traffic that comes to your booking page as a direct result of your marketing output, and passing social trade?

If you use Google Analytics, you will have noticed that there is a section dedicated to social referral, so this info is ready to be plucked for your ROI reports. However, if you build a simple query string with the links you post onto your social channels, you will give Google extra info which will allow your reports to specifically reference a tweet/post.

For example:

  • www.sunnyholidayhomesarethebest.com/bookings/ (your website landing page)
  • Now add the campaign source – ?utm_source=Twitter (what source the traffic is coming from)
  • Now add the medium. Remember you’ll want to differentiate between ‘paid’ and ‘organic’ social traffic so be clear – &utm_medium=tweet (use ‘ad’ or ‘sponsored’ for all paid social promotion)
  • You can now add the campaign term – &utm_term=May-post1 – which will allow you to A/B test specific social content promotion or tag particular posts within a campaign. For example, if you have a campaign with ten posts scheduled, you can number each of these separately
  • Finally add the campaign name – &utm_campaign=social-summer-offer-2015

Use the Google URL builder to create your own custom campaign parameters.

Add these together and use a URL shortener platform like bit.ly to neaten the code up visually and voilà, Google will display the campaign ‘social-summer-offer-2015’ as a specific social referral from Twitter when you view the goal completion report in Google Analytics.

Navigate to Acquisitions > Campaigns to see this report.

Goal completions, screenshot of Google AnalyticsWhenever you use this URL, Google will record the data so you can track exactly what direct traffic you get from your promotional tweets.

Extra tips to increase your social leads

To help your social promotion and overall visibility even more, you can try these techniques to greater increase your reach across platforms:

Influencer marketing – Research the key social profiles in your industry and build relationships with these people to get them to share your content. There are a number of tools available to aid your search for social influencers and I talked through a number of them here in my previous guide: Targeting local customers using social media. Our deep data platform, Apollo Insights, will also allow you to find these key influencers and show you the full list of social profiles of whom have already shared content from your social profiles. This gives you a better idea of how those relationships are building.

Facebook page call-to-action button – A recent addition to the Facebook marketing arsenal is the CTA button, which allows you to set a specific action on your page. This could be a link directly to your contact page, a current download offer or a video.

Facebook CTA

Tag additional social profiles in posts where mentioned – If you mention a specific person or company in your content, research their social profile and add them to your campaign posts. This will alert them and may encourage them to share.

Use Google+ communities and LinkedIn Groups to promote content – Both LinkedIn and Google+ are weighted towards the discussion communities, so search for the most relevant topics on these platforms for additional sharing opportunities.

Need advice?

Want help measuring your social media? Get in contact to find out more about how Vertical Leap and Apollo Insights can assist you.

Steve Masters profile picture
Steve Masters

Steve (RIP) was Services Director for Vertical Leap. He started professional life as a magazine journalist, working on music magazines and women's titles before becoming a web editor in 1997, then joining MSN to work purely in online publishing. Since 1999 he has worked for and consulted to a broad range of businesses about their digital marketing.

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