Twitter is a great tool to reach out to your fan base. It is a very quick way to get the news out about your new product or service, or provide helpful tips to your clients. The problem is… you only have 140 characters.
If you want to link to your website and include a URL, you’ll quickly find that many web link’s can fill up almost an entire tweet. You need the link to tell your clients more about your product, but your message and link just don’t fit.
Then there is the problem of having your followers re-tweet your message. If someone wants to re-tweet, they will need additional room in your message for the re-tweet link which can take up to 20 characters.
So… now you find yourself with a quandary. You actually have only 120 characters to work with if you want someone to re-tweet your message and you have this big honking URL that needs to be included in the tweet.
This is where URL shortening services come in. They take your long url and compress it down to a much shorter link. The good new is, this link can be tracked with analytics to measure how effective it is.
For this post, I will cover two popular URL compressors and show you some things to be aware of.
1. Hootsuite: I really like Hootsuite. It offers a great view of Twitter with multiple column views and also allows you to time your tweets to be sent out at different times during the day.
Hootsuite offers a built-in URL shortener called Owl.ly right in the composition bar. It’s quick and easy to shorten your links, include them in your message, and schedule a time to send them out during the day.
Hootsuite includes a stats program right in it’s interface to track your owl.ly links. It graphs out your link traffic and includes a list of your most popular links.
Unfortunately, Owl.ly uses an inclusive redirect which puts a Hootsuite bar across the top of all your linked websites. This can be a good thing, as it has a link for re-tweets, but I find that it distracting to users and hinders someone from linking directly to your website, since the shortened Owl.ly URL is in the address bar.
This causes linked traffic to be directed back through Owl.ly and keeps your link sent website traffic from being picked up by Google and other search engines. This is where bit.ly comes in
2. Bit.ly: Is one of the most popular URL services and offers regular 301 redirects which track properly with Google. Bit.ly’s interface is straightforward and offers the ability to tweet right from the shortener screen.
What I really like about Bit.ly is its stats program. It is more complete than Owl.ly and is simple to read and understand.
Bit.ly shortens URL’s to 14 characters, which is one of the shortest in the industry. Overall bit.ly does what it is supposed to simply and effectively.
Combination: Combining Hootsuite with Bit.ly URL’s allows you to access all the cool features of Hootsuite and it’s scheduling program along with standard 301 redirect URL’s of Bit.ly. It is a little more work, but pasting in Bit.ly URL’s into Hootsuite gives you a powerful combination.