The analytics issue with Twitter
Twitter is great for traffic, but just how great it is, well, you’ll never really know. Why not? You’ll ask. Well, the only traffic you’ll see coming from Twitter is traffic that comes through Twitters web interface. And most people I know don’t use the web interface, they use desktop and / or phone clients. Because these clients aren’t browsers, they won’t pass along a referrer, and thus register as “direct traffic”.
I won’t even try to estimate what percentage of Twitter usage goes through the API, although I’ve heard people say it’s up to 80 or even 90%, although Twitter Stats seems to report it as around 50%, and Twitstat.com as 60%. So you’re getting a lot of clicks that look like “direct traffic” in your Analytics, but are in fact, not direct traffic. These people will behave differently than normal people who come to your site directly.
In an effort to improve the reliability of my Google Analytics stats a bit, I’ve decided to start adding Google Analytics campaign, medium and source variables to all my own tweets in which I promote my own posts. I know from cli.gs, the URL shortening service I tend to use, that my tweeted links get up to 300 clicks each, and I’d love to track the behavior of those people on my site.
So I’ve made a small “in between” script that I can use in a bookmarklet. What it does is simple:
- it grabs the URL and title from the request
- it adds the UTM variables
- it does a request to cli.gs through its API to create a shorturl
- it then redirects to twitter.com/home with the status set to that shorturl
Download the script here, and then modify this bookmarklet to use it:
Set example.com to the domain name and path where you uploaded it.
This should allow you to create shorturls with the campaign tags in it, and thus track those tweeted links in your own analytics!