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The URL Shortener That Does More Than Tidy Up

Some men love plaid. Some skinny ties. And some love URL shorteners. I’m not going to say who exactly, but someone who writes for a certain blog has a secret love for Bit.ly, the URL shortener. This is what he might highlight if he was (hypothetically) writing this post:

Wait. What exactly is a URL Shortener…?

A URL Shortener takes a long link and creates a forwarder that is much shorter. You can then use the forwarder just like you would the long link and save tons of space. Think Weight Watchers but for URLs.

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=40+Steiner +St,+San+Francisco,+California +94117&ll=37.757687,-122.442627&spn=0.15336, 0.296974&z=12

=
http://bit.ly/bVHZLX

Bit.ly is awesome for a few reasons which I will list here in no particular order. Organizations should definitely integrate URL shortening into their online communications plan (and many times have to in order to work within Twitter’s 140 character limit). So why not use a URL shortener that works with you? Check out why I love Bit.ly:

  • Shortens your URLS for Easy Tweeting/Using.

    Why Should I Care? Big obvi here. That Google Map link freaking you out? Shorten that behemoth! Shortening your links makes them usable on Twitter and simply more easily digestible in other forms like email, blogs or Facebook.

  • Tracks How Many People Click on My Links.

    Why Should I Care? This fulfills my embarassing, but nevertheless-still-present need for “more points” from a childhood dominated by two plumbers. By tracking clicks on your link you can start to find out what types of content people enjoy learning about as well as how the text leading up to the link works for or against people clicking on it. For example, do you think more people would click on this:

    “Check this out! http://bit.ly/123”

    or this:

    “Great Online Communications Metrics from US nonprofits: http://bit.ly/123”

  • Shows Me Who is Sharing My Link

    Why Should I Care? By listing my “Referrers” from Twitter, I have a small slice of instant gratification without having to check out my social media dashboard to see the reach of my link. Bit.ly shows me if the referring site was an email app, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, etc.

  • Tracks the Clicks on My Link Over Time

    Why Should I Care? This means that I can strategize about when to send out my bit.ly links. e.g. If I get 200 clicks when I send out a bit.ly-ed article at 2pm and 300 when I send it out in an insomnia-laden social media blitz at 3am, I’ll know that even if I send it out in the middle of the night people will still see and click on my link.

  • Shows Me Geographic Locations of Clicks

    Why Should I Care? For issues and organizations that are location-dependent or curious, Bit.ly shows me where my links are being clicked. For instance, if we’re doing an event in New Zealand but only people in Norway are clicking on our link? Well that just means we’ll have to better engage the kiwis.

  • Bit.ly Logo Fish
  • Awesome Fat Blowfish Mascot

    Why Should I Care? There is no way you can look at that fat blowfish and not think either “I never want to eat blowfish due to risk of dying prematurely” or “I love Bit.ly”

What’s your favorite URL shortener?

How do you use shortening to your advantage?

Let me know!



  • Heike

    Our site doesn’t have a shopping cart so we don’t know to what extent our web strategy is successful in bringing in sales. We are planning to change some of our outbound links to bitly to measure how much traffic we are sending to our distributors since they haven’t been able to provide that information. Has anyone done this? I know it still won’t give us perfect data as we can’t tell if someone purchased our products on someone else’s site but it’s a start.
    Heike
    3-Point Products

  • http://blog.socialsourcecommons.org/ Matt Garcia

    It sounds like you need a web analytics package. Have you looked into Google Analytics or other website analytics software? This type of software tells you all about incoming/outgoing links, referrers, keywords people searched to find you, etc. etc. A ton of useful information. Explore some of these: http://socialsourcecommons.org/search/query?q=analytics&submit=Search

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