Every once in awhile on this blog, I try and throw out a helpful tip or link to something that I have found during my never ending mining expeditions across the Internet.
There are several URL shorteners out there, but I think bit.ly separates itself from the pack for a couple of reasons. (By the way, bit.ly is the URL. There is no .com or anything like that. Just type in bit.ly into your browser.)
The main reason bit.ly is ahead of the curve, in my opinion, is because of their stats feature. If you include a shortened link into a tweet, into Facebook, an IM, on your blog or in a blog comment, you get real time traffic for the links you send out , stats and trends, along with location data (e.g., 10 people in the UK clicked). For marketers, this is fantastic information. If you are trying to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, this is also invaluable. Normally, if you send out a link you have no way of knowing how it might be resonating with its recipients. Now you do.
Twitter integration is another excellent feature of bit.ly. You can post tweets directly from the bit.ly interface so you don’t have to move in and out of whatever Twitter client you use, cut and paste, etc etc etc. Nice. And while you’re logged into bit.ly, you are presented with a list of your most recent activity, all in one place.
You can drag a bookmarklet into your tool bar so that every time you are on a site that you want to shorten, you just select it, hit bit.ly in your tool bar and you’re done.
GM Andrew Cohen sees an ad-supported destination site as the most interesting future iteration. “By aggregating data across millions of bit.ly users, the platform can be leveraged to track the most popular articles on the Internet, discover the most persistent memes, and measure the velocity of the hottest trends. Today, we’ve got a simple prototype at www.bitlynow.com.”
Give it a test drive.