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Tracking engagement with short links as social media behavior changes

Vanity metrics such as likes and follower counts have long been a mainstay of social media platforms. They’ve enabled brands and influencers to visually gauge the success of their marketing efforts so they can capitalize on the posts and campaigns that draw the most engagement.

Instagram has recently made waves across the social landscape by trialing the removal of post “likes”. As social media behavior changes and posting pressure grows, Instagram is seeking to create more authentic connections and reduce the reliance on these visual metrics as a form of social currency.



If more platforms head in this direction, brands will need to figure out what kind of engagement is truly valuable to them. They will also need to establish alternative means of tracking what’s moving the needle, both with their paid media spend and their organic traffic and engagement. 


The answer lies in using more sophisticated marketing metrics that measure a deeper level of attention.

Rethinking social engagement metrics

Likes have always been used to assume the interest levels of social users. The more likes on a post, the more interesting or popular it appears — but with the change in consumer behavior and the race to game the ever-changing algorithms and stay ahead in the Instagram popularity stakes, likes don’t mean as much as they used to.


A deeper reflection of a brand’s engagement on social can be found through other means such as:


  • Comments
  • Sharing
  • Engagement rate
  • Conversions on ads
  • Watch time on videos
  • Completion rates on Instagram Stories
  • Following the brand
  • Reach


Instead of aiming for the shallow social currency of “like” counts, brands should be aiming to create useful, valuable content for their audience that resonates enough to encourage more thoughtful interactions.

Branded BL.INK short links and UTM tracking

A UTM code is a simple code that can be added add to a custom URL to help track viewer engagement.UTM links can benefit social media marketers by allowing them to see exactly where searchers come from, and which campaigns are driving the traffic. 


The tracking link will look something like “


Within this link, you’ll see “source”, “medium”, and “campaign.” These parameters can be used to track the:


Source: this could be a Facebook group, Twitter, or any other social source that you want to measure.

Medium: this measures the type of traffic your link is getting. For example, social, blog, or email marketing traffic. 


Campaign: as it suggests, this parameter is used to tag the campaign that you’re working on. This could be something like website promotion, landing page, or sales campaign.


Normally, UTM codes are visible within a URL, allowing anyone to see your source, medium, and campaign parameters. However, when you use UTM codes with branded short links, your parameters remain private and hidden from competitors. 


If you’re running multiple campaigns on various social media platforms, email marketing, and print media, plus running multivariate A/B testing, attribution can be diluted and become an obstacle to gathering definitive results. This is where UTM tracking comes into its own — helping brands to clarify exactly which sources and campaigns are giving the best ROI.

Building and tracking your short links


BL.INK has a built-in UTM builder which enables you to build a UTM link on the spot. Your custom URL with the UTM parameters attached will be automatically be turned into a short link once it’s completed. 


There’s no extra step of cutting and pasting long, ugly links into third-party tools to shorten them – simply generate your clean, memorable short link and share it to begin collecting data.




Once you set your link live as part of your social media campaigns, you can track detailed metrics in your Google Analytics dashboard, as well as in your BL.INK dashboard. 


UTM tracking links are powerful, flexible tools for social media marketers. Brands that use them will be able to more easily test strategies and stay ahead of changing algorithms and functionalities to accurately gauge the success of their campaigns.


Contact us to learn more about how BL.INK can help you manage and optimize your social media campaigns.


Delivering Messaging Campaigns that Click 

In today’s market, standing out and being heard is on every marketer’s mind. BL.INK has compiled best practices across a number of customers to share the key elements of success that differentiate the best from the rest.