If you’re a marketer that is tracking the success of your social media campaigns, you already know what a nightmare attribution can be. Attribution is the act of figuring out which campaign drove which type of traffic to your landing page or microsite. In other words, it’s your way of knowing which social marketing strategies worked, and which flopped.


While Campaign X was promoting a new product launch, amazing content was produced and published to three different social media properties. The goal of the campaign was to drive traffic to a website so that people could make an online purchase. The third social media property was found as the main source of incoming traffic to the website, resulting in the most purchases.


The most basic metric you may be interested in is how many products you sold. However, when you start to look at attribution (as outlined in the example above), a much more interesting story comes to light.

Here’s Why

Total sales of the product doesn’t give you the full story since some people may have bought the product online without ever having seen your social campaign. Also, if you’re using a tool like Google Analytics, the traffic that’s shown as coming to the product page is a last touch attribution which can be very inaccurate when trying to determine campaign effectiveness. Since social content is incredibly easy to share, any time you promote something in social media it can often spread quickly to other social properties. The result is that your blog post gets liked on Facebook or retweeted on Twitter, yet the attribution of those inbound clicks end up going to those platforms and not your blog, since Google Analytics only tracks last touch attribution.


To fully understand what’s actually happening, you’ll need to use shortened links that have encoded campaign and social tool information so that you can correctly attribute the clicks, conversions and sales of the first touch attribution. Even though someone came to your site from Facebook, the link that drove them there was from the blog. Being able to make that distinction will go a long way in helping you determine what parts of your campaign have been the most successful.

Lastly, don’t forget mobile. Mobile wreaks havoc on last touch attribution since many people are intersecting with social content on their smart phones. If you’re driving traffic to a website and it comes from a mobile phone, it’ll often show as direct traffic when, in fact, it came from a Facebook app.

So how do you set up first touch attribution? Well, we integrate that process as part of Source Metrics but you can do it other ways as well. Bit.ly and Google URL Creator can both help. The most important thing is that you’re doing it, regardless of which platform you use in order to do so.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,