UTM Codes — And How to Use Them for Instagram

You can view traffic to your site from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter in Google Analytics. However, you can’t view sessions from Instagram.

Why is that?

Caitlin Brehm wrote about this in a fantastic article on her website. (Ed. note/sad face: Caitlin’s site is currently under construction.) The short of it is, Instagram is self-contained. You have to exit the app to open a page in a browser, which can make it tricky for you to see the traffic from IG to your site in Google Analytics.


So what’s a digital marketer to do? Enter UTM codes.

What is a UTM Code?

It’s a code added to a link that enables you to track where your visitors are coming from.

Here’s a more fleshed out definition of UTM codes, thanks to Google’s Quick Answer box and Launch Digital Marketing’s blog:

With UTM codes, you can see traffic being directed to your website under Campaigns in GA.

How to Create a UTM Code for Instagram

Google’s URL Builder 

Using the URL Builder Form, enter the website URL, campaign source (in this case, Instagram) and campaign medium (make sure it’s something you can easily find in Google Analytics).

Once you generate the URL, you’re left with alphabet soup. For a quick and tidy fix, enter the link into bit.ly.

Copy the link and paste it in your Instagram bio. Presto!


Chatting with my former SEMrush colleague — it’s really this easy!

To see the results in Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns, and then search for the campaign name.

After checking in 24 hours later, I saw 21 Instagram referrals to the site I was working on — tracking success! H/T to Caitlin Brehm for the suggestion!

How do you track Instagram referrals in Google Analytics? If you haven’t before, did this method help?

Featured image credit: Picjumbo + Canva

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