Sunday, 24 October 2010

Track click-backs from 'Share this in Facebook'

On almost every web page today, there is some kind of 'Social Bookmarking' installed. Social Bookmarking is the method of posting a site or a page in a social network, like Twitter or LinkedIn. Every time you press a link which says 'Share this with your friends in Facebook' you are 'social bookmarking'.
What you actually do with social bookmarking is posting a link on your wall in facebook or on your twitter status. This is important for people managing a website. First of all, every link counts as an incoming link, which is good for Organic Search results (SEO).
But maybe more important: it means an extra links to your site, which can mean extra visitors and extra conversion/subscriptions/revenue for your site. And it's very probable that you get good quality visitors: a friend has recommended  to visit the page, and a friend's recommendation is always a good thing.

It's impressive, which so much links and external provider offering solutions for Social Bookmarking, that so few people actually bother with trying to measure how many people actually get back to your site from a Social Bookmark.

In this post, I'll explain how to measure the incoming traffic for visitors coming from social bookmarking on Facebook. This is: somebody shared a link of a site on Facebook, and one of his friends or connections sees the link and clicks on it to visit the site.

¿How does social bookmarking on facebook work?

Sharing a link on Facebook is very easy: you just need to use the following URL:

After the parameter 'u=' you insert the URL of the page you want to share. Say that I want to share the blog of my friend Michael Notté, Kaizen-Analytics, then I need to use the following URL:

It's interesting to note that you can include every page on a share this link or button. It doesn't have to be he page where you put on the link or button hat needs to be shared.

When you use this URL, say as a text link or a button on your site, you'll get to see this:

As you can see, there are 4 things published by facebook:

The title of the page
The URL of the page
A description of he page
An image found on the page

The title and the description are both taken from the so-called 'Meta Tags' of the page. For every page you can give a small title and a description. This is generally used for search engines: the 'title' is what you see in blue on a page of the search results and the 'description' is the little bit of text you see on the page of the search results.

This is good to know: you can make a separate 'landing page' for sharing in facebook. Like you've seen above: you can implement any URL in the facebook-share page so technically there is no problem using any URL you choose. So you can make a personalised landing page, in which you can personalize the Title and the Description as you please. This can be a nice way to make a special offer to somebody who comes 'recommended by a friend'.

It's not really clear on what basis facebook selects the images you get to share with the URL mentioned above. But it looks like it just takes all images from the body of the page and you can change to the one you like most.

The trick for measuring the incoming traffic from this link mentioned above is the URL. Instead of including just the link of the page we want people to share, we're going to add some parameters to the URL so that, when somebody clicks on the URL, we can track this.

How to measuring traffic from the 'Share his': Link Tracking

Link tracking is a pretty simple method to track visitors coming to your site. You simply add some parameters to your URL, and when somebody visits your page, with a URL that holds these parameters, we can pick this up in our Web Analytics tool and soon you'll see where your traffic is coming from.

In this example, I implement link tracking for Google Analytics. I think everybody who uses a Web Analytics tool which is not GA, knows the idea behind Google Analytics link tracking and I'm pretty convinced everybody will be able to translate this method to their own tool.

Step 1: Create the campaign parameters (UTM's)
Google Analytics gives you the possibility to include parameters in the URLs that you use to drive traffic to your site. These parameters are called UTM's and you can use a different number of parameters. As a standard, Google Analytics uses 3 basic parameters. If needed, you can add more.
The 3 are:
Source: where the traffic is coming from, like another the site or a search engine.
Medium: the method used for driving traffic, like 'email' or 'banner ad'.
Campaign: whatever you want to call your campaign, like '10€Offer' or 'ProductXLaunch'.

In the case of the click-backs for Social Bookmarking in facebook, I use the following UTMs:


The campaign I've called ClickBackOfferY, since I need to know this is a click-back after sharing, and I've included the 'Offer Y', which can help you in case you have a special offer linked to the sharing of the page. You could also include this in an extra UTM, the UTM_content=OfferY.

Step 2 Add the UTM's to the URL
Now we add the parameters to the URL. Say that the page you want to share is '', then the URL with Link Tracking will be:

Step 3 Implement the URL in the facebook URL

Once we've created this URL, which will be the URL we share in Facebook, we implement this into the URL for sharing

Easy, right? Why don't you just try to share this article with your facebook friends using this 'Share this' button below and you'll see how this works: I've implemented the system explained in this post!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Congreso de Internet Madrid: online prizedraws

The upcoming weekend of 22, 23 and 24 of October there is a Congress on Internet being held in Madrid. The speakers look pretty good, and it's just 75€ for the 3 days, so that's not too expensive. If you want to go: feel free.

I'm not going, I'm afraid. But I do have a particular reason for writing on the congress: every blog-post written about the congress enters in a prize-draw to win an iPhone 4. I'm reading Freakonomics right now, a book in which is argued that people respond to incentives. And thus: the change of winning an iPhone was the incentive for me to start writing. The only thing I have to do is punt a link to the congress's website to enter the prize-draw, so here you go:

My duty is done. I'm on the ticket for the prize draw.

The congress also has another prize-draw in which you can win an iPad, which interests me more actually. To enter in the draw, you just had to upload a static banner on to your blog or site, so that's why on the right hand side of my blog you can also see the banner for the congress: the incentive is winning an iPad, I want an iPad so there you go: banner published.

Why does a congress want people to put banners on their site and place a blog post on their blog?
  1. If people put a banner on their sites for free, you get free advertising and free visits. You would normally have to pay to have banners on websites which drive traffic, but this way it is free. In this case free is not completely free: the cost is that of an iPhone4 and iPad.
  2. If people talk about your congress or event on their blog, you get free publicity. Instead of sending out a press release in the hope that some journalist will pick it up to publish something in a magazine or journal, you have - again - people who talk about you for free. Other people read about this and talk about it to other people. This way you get a viral effect in which 1 blog is read by 10 people who each tell it to 10 other people. At least the congress hopes this viral effect will work thanks to the prize draw.
  3. If various sites and blogs link to your site, you get a good positioning in Organic Search (SEO). This is what is called 'Link Building' and is a very specialized area of working search engines: with different techniques, you try sites to link to your site. Prize draws are one possible technique, though maybe just a temporary one, which is not that good for SEO, actually.
  4. It's a fun idea to organize an original prize draw.
As an on-line marketer I've organized various prize draws. Most were on-line games. In my experience, you reach a very specific and loyal audience (read: the same people over and over), but it's hard to get out of this small circle of participants.
Also in my experience: people will always cheat. The winner is very probably a cheater and it's pretty hard to exclude cheaters.

Cheating goes from using multiple user names until cracking your flash programming so a cheater reaches a stage in your game in a time which is less then the possible time. I've seen it all.

Of course, giving your prize to a honest participant may not be a worry to you: maybe your just interested in link building, and it doesn't really matter in the end how honest the winner may be.

So are there cheaters for the prize draws of the Congress de Internet? It's not that hard to create a blog or a new section of your site in which you talk about the congress, so it's easy enough.
But it's different here: the the congress just want banners on sites and post written about it, so it doesn't matter if the same person puts a banner on 3 different blogs which he manages. That's how it goes for the businesses who organize the prize-draws: you measure the number of participants, the interactions these participants had with your brand. Giving the prize to a possible cheater is just the prize for your efforts.


So will I win? Probably not. But there is a chance.
When I posted the banner on this blog, there were 55 people trying to win the iPad and 33 the iPhone. Since that time, there have been more people joining, but let's say those 55 for the iPad and the 33 for the iPhone where the final entries.

So these are my chances:

Winning an iPad: 1,82%
Winning an iPhone: 3,03%

So I have almost double the chance of winning an iPhone. It's also good to have 2 chances of winning.

Obviously, the more people join the draw, the less probability to win. But your chances just drop exponentially. This means that your chances drop a lot faster when there are just few people are playing and a new one enters the draw. If there are just 3 people playing, you all have a 33% chance. If somebody else joins, you all drop to a 25% chance of winning. This is a drop of 8%. If instead of joining 55 people for the iPad, there are 56 people playing, my chances drop from 1,82% to 1,79%, which is just a drop of 0,03%.

But make no mistake: it's always better to be with fewer people to join.
Here you have a plot of the chances you have when entering a prize draw like the one that I'm playing in.

Though it's a pretty remote chance, if there were 10.000 participants, I'd just had a 0,01% of chance to win.

I'll let you know if I win something.