Post Case Study: Triberr Visits vs. Google Analytics

One of the more interesting, maybe even downright controversial aspects of social media is actually measuring results. How have your strategies actually helped your website? While businesses focus on the ROI in dollars, bloggers focus on the ROI in traffic.

This morning, when I popped onto HootSuite, I saw this tweet from Brankica of How to Blog Like a Star.

Triberr Traffic Tweet

Naturally, being the statistics geek that I am, I wondered if I could match up the stats that Triberr gives you for visits from everyone’s unique Triberr URL of your post to the number of visits you see in Google Analytics.

The Problem with Google Analytics

Before I get into actual stats, I have to preface this with the fact that there are a lot of numbers that Google Analytics misses. These usually get lumped into the Direct Traffic section of your Google Analytics traffic sources. Direct Traffic includes anything from people using browsers that have enabled private browsing (see Firefox’s privacy settings, for example) to people who click on a link within a mobile application such as my personal favorite, HootSuite for Android.

The point being is, while you can track a lot of things in Google Analytics, you have to accept the fact that a lot of things will also be missed. Plus, the way some networks track their clicks may be different than how Google Analytics tracks visits. For example, I’ve seen some posts like my LinkedIn for bloggers have 645 views on StumbleUpon, but Google Analytics only shows 271 total visits from StumbleUpon as a referrer.

Triberr Visits vs. Google Analytics

Now, without further ado, here is a look at the last post I shared on Triberr, Thesis vs Genesis. This post has a lower number of tweets / retweets than some of the others I have sent through Triberr because it really only caters to WordPress users interested in theme shopping, but since it was my latest, I went with it. Here’s what you are looking at:

  • User Stats – The user stats (mostly in there for my own interest) is the followers and Klout rating for each Triberr member that shared my post.
  • Google Analytics – Statistics (Visits, Pages Per Visit, Time on Site, and Bounce Rate) from the unique t.co shortened URLs from each Triberr member’s tweets.
  • Triberr Stats – Visits counted by Triberr for each member’s unique URL.
  • Difference, Total, and Averages – The difference between Triberr visits and Google Analytics for each member’s tweets, plus visit totals and averages of Pages Per Visit, Time on Site, and Bounce Rate.

Triberr Visits vs Google Analytics

So as you can see, the difference in visit count is pretty big with a total of 220 visits counted by Triberr vs the 62 visits counted in Google Analytics. Of course, things to keep in mind include:

  • HootSuite, for example, doesn’t show the t.co link in their dashboard but the actual Triberr shortened link. And all clicks inside the HootSuite dashboard are shown as referrals from HootSuite. I had a total of 37 visits from HootSuite.
  • Not all of the t.co links even registered in Analytics, meaning they could have been counted as Direct Traffic. I had a total of 196 visits under Direct Traffic, including 41 from mobile users and 27 from iPad or other tablet users.
  • People share their tweets on other networks, including Facebook and LinkedIn, which could also have accounted for some visits without using the t.co referral link. I had a total of 87 visits from Facebook and 5 from LinkedIn. What’s amusing is I know I had more visits that that from LinkedIn as I got comments in WordPress groups from 10 different individual who read the post and had some questions / feedback.
  • Some additional traffic that could come as a result of Triberr includes people who visit the post and retweet it using the post’s own Twitter button instead of retweeting the a tribe member’s tweet with their tracking URL.
  • The Triberr URL shortened links were not tracked in Google Analytics. Most URL shorteners like bit.ly, owl.ly, and others also don’t show up in Google Analytics.

As far as overall statistics for the Thesis vs Genesis post, I had a total of 1,176 visits with an average of 1.67 Pages Per Visit, 0:02:20 Time on Site, and 72.36% Bounce Rate plus 200+ tweets, 60+ comments, and 81+ shares on LinkedIn. While it may not have done as well on Triberr due to its specific topic, it has performed quite nicely overall. My best performer on Triberr is my post on why I’m going to Blog World Expo plus discount code which, according to Triberr, received 541 visits from six members’ tweets.

The Process

While I wouldn’t suggest doing this unless you’re really curious and you have about an hour and a half to spare to do all of the tracking, here’s how I pulled these numbers.

  1. I went to the Topsy page for my post which shows you most of the tweets for any page.
  2. I found the tweets from each member in my tribes, went to them on Twitter, and copied the t.co URL. I also copied the Triberr URLs, but it turns out those don’t show up at all in Google Analytics, so it’s pretty pointless.
  3. I created an Advanced Segment in Google Analytics only showing information for that post’s URL.

Google Analytics Advanced Segment

  1. I drilled down on the t.co referral to see the unique URLs and grabbed their stats to compare to the stats in the Triberr dashboard for my post.

The time it takes to run these numbers really depends on how many people you have in your tribes sharing your post. I would suggest doing it a week later if possible so you can see the full results. I recorded mine in a spreadsheet of course (you can see the sample in Google Docs and either save it to your own account or download it for Excel / Open Office for personal use).

The Conclusion

What does this all go to show? It’s bloody difficult to track every bit of traffic from social media in Google Analytics! But you can get some good information from the parts you can track, like:

  • Certain users (which I excluded from the spreadsheet for privacy reasons, but I know who they are) produced better quality visitors with a lower bounce rate than others.
  • Certain tribes have more members that tweet your posts.
  • The general timeline when everything is sent out (left out of the above screenshot for spacing reasons, but included in the sample spreadsheet).
  • How follower count and Klout relate to the rate of retweets and better quality visitors.

So is there lots to learn? Yes. Is it conclusive? Not entirely. Worth it? That’s up to you! :)

Benefits Beyond Traffic

So if Triberr isn’t bringing you the traffic you expected to see, then what are other benefits of the service? Some I have found include:

  • Getting in tune with other bloggers you follow and seeing their posts sooner than you would compared to sorting through your RSS reader. For me, it’s like a reader with 50 vs. 500 subscriptions!
  • Getting to know new bloggers in your niche that you might not have met otherwise. I suggest for this one you create a Triberr Twitter list with all of the people in your tribes and start interacting with them regularly beyond just tweeting their posts.
  • Regularly feeding great content to your Twitter followers. For this part, I go fully manual meaning I read and approve every post I tweet out.

Of course, there are also drawbacks. When I did my post on how I use Triberr, I received several tweets from that people said they unfollow anyone who tweets from Triberr. This is why I suggest doing the manual mode – so your followers know you aren’t tweeting for others so they’ll tweet for you, but that you are incorporating the service as a part of your strategy for better content curation. Also don’t forget there are more blogs out there than just the ones in your tribe – keep reading and tweeting those too!

As always, now it’s your turn. What have you noticed about your Triberr traffic counts vs what you see in Analytics? Have you overall seen better performance on your posts since joining Triberr? What other benefits do you get from your tribes? Please share your thoughts!





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Comments

    • says

      My strategy is to just stick with one, assume it’s not 100% accurate, and look at it more for trends than accuracy. If you see that your site has more visits than in the previous month, you know you’re doing better. If not, it’s time to get to work! :)

      • says

        No two analytics programs ever agree on anything. As Kristi says, they are better for watching trends than for accurate data. Not understanding how analytics data is skewed makes it sometimes more dangerous than if you didn’t have it at all.

        Sorry I’ve been so busy we haven’t been in touch as much lately. I’ll catch you when I can about Triberr and my list of blogs I read and feed that I just published last week. (Link in CommentLuv.)
        Gail Gardner just posted Top Marketing Blogs on GrowMap Reading List

    • says

      There is no 100% accurate way of tracking visitors. As shown above, Google Analytics will miss any visitors whose browsers don’t support JS (iPhones and Androids typically have JS disabled to improve battery life). Meanwhile Triberr is going to count bots as visitors (Google Bot, Bing Bot and all the rest often follow links like these).

      Kristi is right in saying you just need to choose one and stick with it.

      Myself, I prefer to stick with GA. Sure it may not match up 100% to the true visitation, but no analytics software will. Even GA mentions it’s not accurate and that rather than looking for exact figures, it’s best just for spotting trends.
      Rob Kingston just posted Visualize Your Best Converting Hour & Day of the Week

  1. says

    It is never easy to track traffic from social media and sometime I wonder if it is worth the effort. I’m really amazed you went on to such lengths to test this, you really must be a statistic geek ;). On a totally unrelated note ( since you seem to be very good with tracking :-) ) , is there a way to find out where your Twitter followers are coming from ? . I’m getting around 15-20 Twitter followers daily and I have no idea where they are coming from and I wouldn’t consider myself an active Twitter user as well.
    Nishadha just posted SEO Sri Lanka | Search Engine Optimization in Sri Lanka

  2. says

    Kristi, you know I love you, right :) This is amazing, and I am really sorry I kept you so busy!

    I was really wondering about these numbers because Triberr always showed more visits than any other tracking tool. There was a time when I haven’t posted in a long time and one day’s visitor count was a bit below 200 but Triberr was showing 220 visits from them.

    Weird, because out of those 200 I know at least 100 were visitors from Search engines and other referrals. I also found myself in the spreadsheet, I need to step up the game :)

    Thanks so much for this, I keep trying to maximize the use of Triberr for people in my tribes and myself and want to make sure someone is getting something out of it :)
    Brankica just posted Aweber or MailChimp | Why You Should Choose My New Favorite

    • says

      My thought Harleena is that even if Triberr only gave me 62 visits, that’s 62 more visits than I would have had otherwise. Plus I’ve had a lot of great behind-the-scenes interactions with a lot of my Tribe members, and those relationships are more valuable than tweets any day. :)

  3. says

    Hi Kristi, I like how you set up the spread sheet and shared it with us, that was pretty cool! I’m a stats lover myself but I get annoyed when I see inconsistencies in data. I wish there weren’t so darn many variables to consider :)
    With that said, your expertise is always appreciated. Thank you!
    Ileane just posted StumbleUpon Tops My Traffic Charts

    • says

      I’ve just come to anticipate the inconsistencies Ileane. It happens with any network – I might get 21 votes on Blog Engage, but only 6 visits from there, or 1,000 tweets overall but less than half in actual visits from the tweets. I guess you just have to accept it as social proof and hope to always increase it!

  4. says

    Hi Kristi,

    Brankica has had you busy :)

    Excellent job! I’m big fan of stats, but I try to not being frequently exploring them deeply, enough with my real time-stats to see the keywords and references I’m having.

    I’m member of a tribe but I didn’t see the stats there, I’ll pay more attention ;)

    I’m not surprised to see differences between GA and Triberr, more in Twitter when there are tons of different services, shorteners and so forth, to track.

    Cheers,

    Gera
    Gera just posted Google Plus FollowFriday: 50+ Bloggers Worth Following on Google+

    • says

      Hi Gera,

      You have to drill down to actually see the stats – now you go to My Stream and click on the total number of visits to see which members are getting you the most clicks! :)

  5. says

    Whoa…thats quite extensive, Kristi. You rock :-)

    The issue with tracking Triberr traffic falls into several categories. Dan and I are aware of each and keep working to get it as accurate as possible. For example.

    When we first deployed traffic stats (we call them Naked Stats) the numbers were HUGE!!! Thats because google bots and other kinds of bots probe links they find on twitter. These are not actual visits by humans, but if you dont filter them out, they show up as a visit.

    Since then, it’s been a constant struggle to stay one step ahead of new bots and we update the filter list all the time.

    The other thing is that Triberr shortens your feed, NOT your URL. This means that if you’re using Feedburner, the clicks will be recorded under source:Feedburner and lumped with other Feedburner clicks inside GA. I know…what a pain :-)

    Finally, the issues you bring up at the start of your article add to the discrepancy.

    All in all, it’s very hard to A) Reach a consensus across all tools and B) Account for all variables inherent into the nature of web traffic. But we’re doing our best and will get better at it, for sure :-)

    Thnx again for writing extensively about Triberr, you are the best :-)
    Dino Dogan just posted 5 Reasons Your Online Biz Is Failing

    • says

      Interesting point Dino! I don’t have many referrals straight from Feedburner, but I found a way to get better analytics on those clicks as well. Will have to test that out and update this post down the road. :)

  6. says

    I have always strongly believed that Googl Analytics is the best one and I can rely on it in any situations, but I can see from your post that the results given by it are not accurate. Well, that’s not very pleasant in fact for me. Of course I will try to consider the tool you are offering and check my site and see the results.

    • says

      Unfortunately, with mobile and user ability to turn off tracking, no analytics program is going to be 100%. You just have to assume if anyone wants click accuracy, it’s Google. :)

  7. says

    For a while, I didn’t really understand why metrics like this were so important. I didn’t really think it mattered that much, and then it clicked that decisions can be made on how to execute in the future, based on the data, that can help your sort of.. bottom line. It’s good to know the “quality” retweeters, for example, and you could do a number of strategy based tests to pull something beneficial to you out of it. Hmmmmm! Another great post.

    • says

      I try not to focus too hard on numbers Ryan, but I do find that occasionally digging into them can reveal things that are working and things that aren’t. Like if you were paying to submit your blog posts to a social bookmarking service, you would want to know that those links were bringing traffic to your blog. If not, that’s a little extra cash you can pocket every month. :)

      • says

        Right. Finding out what you can change based on the data. I like it and need to learn more about the way tracking these kinds of metrics works. YEA! I’d want to know if the PAID service is working for sure. Good point.

  8. says

    Comprehensive analysis Kristi! though I’m a bit rough in stats, you did a great job showing us the comparison in a layman’s manner. I haven’t tried any traffic stat analyzer except Google Analytics before but I’m considering Triberr in the future. Thanks!

  9. says

    Kristi,
    You are intense! That was just too much thinking for this early in the morning. I had sometimes wondered about the data analytics provided. I went over to a paid service called GetClicky, and then I even found a Free service called Pewik. I now have all my sites on that software, and I’m loving it. However, I need to start analyzing traffic more in depth, like you just demonstrated. Thanks again!
    Chad just posted Submit Your Guest Post On A Site That Gets 300,000 Monthly Views!

  10. says

    First, I totally agree with the differences in Google stats and what the other apps say. It is truly hard to track all social media traffic. I have not heard of Triberr and will be going to check it out now.

    Will also try out the process you described.

  11. says

    I use a couple of different stats and each are always different. Some are slightly different and others are quite a bit different. As far as I know analytics is javascript based so the end user must have it enabled in their browser. Some do, but a few do not. There are also script blockers that block things like analytics in their web browser. Firefox has an addon for that too and they wouldn’t be counted. A number of others won’t be counted either, but I don’t want to sound too geek here. My hosts awstats counts most all, but it also will count bots. I do block some bots with .htaccess, but there is just too many to keep up with.
    Ray just posted Timestamping articles and posts

  12. says

    >>> 645 views on StumbleUpon, but Google Analytics only shows 271 total visits from StumbleUpon as a referrer.

    Yikes, that’s a huge discrepancy! I wasn’t even aware of Tiberr to be honest, I’d never heard of it… I was under the impression that Google Analytics was the greatest thing since sliced bread, at least that’s the impression a number of blogs have given me!

  13. says

    I agree with your comment that we should just assume analytics will never be 100%. I use google analytics, woopra (my fave), and addthis. They NEVER match up. But they always agree about trends.. and that’s really most important. I will say that it’s super hard to pull myself away from analytics because it’s so addicting to watch people visit what you’ve built.
    Erik D just posted Why Putting a Website URL on a Yard Sign is Piss Poor Marketing

  14. says

    Hi Kristi, Thank you very much for taking the time to analyze this data for us and thank you Brankica for requesting this! Triberr constantly shows that they are sending more traffic to my blog for each post than my dashboard shows for daily hits for the entire blog.

    My webmaster told me she thought my dashboard stats were low. She gave me access to the stats the webhost is showing for my blog and it showed much more traffic than my dashboard shows. It’s easy to be confused by the discrepancies, thank you very much for clearing this up!

    Really appreciate all of the hard work you put into this. Have a great weekend!
    Carolyn just posted Good-bye iPhone, Hello Android? Part 1

  15. says

    I am confused by many of the analytics programs,so many results yet I never know what half of them mean.

    I use a real life tracker which I must say I love and its easier than Google Analytics to actually see where and how your site is doing well.

  16. says

    I run both Google Analytics and JetPack site stats – Google for when I want to dive deep and crunch the numbers (usually only once per quarter) and JetPack just so I can get a birds-eye view on my WP dashboard of the views for the past week or so. I think overall Analytics is the most reliable resource as far as accuracy goes, but for most casual users I think the dashboard views in their blogging platforms is adequate.
    Daniel just posted Twitter vs. Triberr – Is a Standoff Coming?

  17. says

    Great resource Kristi. Analyzing stats is critical for any blogger who wish to pinpoint certain factors that will help improve some aspects of their website. As a blogger, you should only use the best tools which you’re comfortable with whether is Triberr or GA. Both are great tools but I’m sticking with GA since it is the one designed by Google itself.

    • says

      Hi Adi,

      It seemed to be normal for Triberr. There are some people out there who look at the app your tweet is being sent from, and some of those will deliberately ignore tweets from apps that seem automated.

  18. says

    This is a great article Kristi. Wish I would have seen it earlier, it would saved my head some banging. I guess the key take away is no Tracking system is going to be 100% correct. This really gave transparency of what you see, how they are categorized, and what doesn’t show up at all. I recently had an article with about 1000 PV’s, but my StumbleUpon number alone was 2003. What happened to those other 1000 visits? Wondered if GA was off or SU was off? It’s definitely an inexact science, and frustrating to one that wants the numbers to align.



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