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!


  1. Excellent article and very useful, thanks.
    What if you wanted to track many pages from multiple sites? is there a way to get that information directly from facebook?

  2. Hey Azzam!
    Thanks for the feedback and glad you found the article useful.
    For what I know facebook doesn't provide this information directly, so you'll have to be a bit creative with the UTM's available for Google Analytics.
    In case you'd want to track different pages from different sites into one profile, you could use the UTM_content. This is a 4th UTM parameter, whicj I ddn't cover in this post above. You could try to implement something like:


    Hope this helps!

  3. Thanks for sharing your post and it was superb .I would like to hear more from you in future too.

  4. Hey @Invetory Management Software
    Glad you likes the post.I'm trying to post regularly, hope to keep it up now that I changed jobs, so come back regularly for new stuff