When you post a link on other websites and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, general discussion boards, or blogs; can you tell how many times the link was clicked? Can you tell which platforms generated the most interest?
How do you know if an online advertisement, you've placed, is doing as well as you expected -- or even as well as you've been told?
The answer is easy:
Create an account on bit.ly
Using bit.ly is simple; after signing up for a free bit.ly Pro account. You be presented with the screen similar to the one below.
I'll demonstrate how this works by shortened the URL of this page (yes, page you are reading right now): http://socialmedia101.biz/track_your_clicks.html:
You simply type or paste the link you want shortened into blue field (see screen shot below).
After entering your link and hitting return, the link will be shortened. The shortened link, in my example, is now http://aalbc.it/9GVx78 -- 26 characters shorter than the original link.
Again, the new shortened link will send people to the same page as the original, longer link.
Shortened links are particularly useful on social media website like Twitter where you are limited to 140 characters.
I often shorten Amazon Links, supplied to me by authors, which can
look like this: http://www.amazon.com/Sistergirl-Devotions-Keeping-Jesus-Mix/dp/0800733975/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279842269&sr=8-1
(click here for more on Amazon Links)
While the link used in our example is much shorter, it is still difficult to remember. bit.ly takes care of this by allowing you to customize the shortened URL, changing it into a link that you can easily remember.
Just click "Customize" to create an easy to remember link.
I typed "trackclicks". The new shortened URL becomes: http://aalbc.it/trackclicks
You may have to be creative selecting the text for your custom link. The characters have to be unique across all shortened links, not just the ones you've created. The links are case sensitive.
The URL is now shorter and easier to remember. But I have not described to the best thing about bit.ly Pro: we can now track the clicks on this link!
The screen shot directly below is AALBC.com's "Metrics Summary" page. We can see that over the last 30 days, AALBC.com has tracked 3,908 clicks from links we have shortened.
Those shortened links may have been placed on AALBC.com's Blog, Facebook page or inserted into "tweets", our eNewsletter, regular emails and online advertisements.
The ability to track our links across all of these platforms allows us to see which platforms bring us the most traffic, and the best time of day and days of the week to send messages.
By tracking links we can also learn which type of AALBC.com content generates the most interest.
The Twitter data is really valuable
I used the shortened URL http://aalbc.it/trackclicks in a "tweet" (twitter message)
With bit.ly we can immediately see the actual "tweet" and the username of the person who sent the message. We can also see a histogram of when the message was clicked.
In this case the screen shot below demonstrates how bit.ly reports that aalbc sent the following tweet: "Social Media Tip: Track where & how many times your links are clicked http://aalbc.it/trackclicks #socialmedia #bitly"
We also see that the link was clicked a total of 280 times.
AALBC.com uses the custom domain aalbc.it instead of bit.ly
The shortened links used by AALBC.com are of the form; "http://aalbc.it/pagename" instead of "http://bit.ly/pagename".
bit.ly Pro provides the ability to use a custom domain name (in this case aalbc.it) instead of bit.ly. I chose a custom domain for AALBC.com shortened links to reinforce the AALBC brand. To register a new domain name visit: http://domainsforauthors.com/
As with almost all web based services; competing services are available.. bit.ly is a service that I use for AALBC.com, so I can speak to it's usefulness first hand.
It is possible that some of the competing services, available today, are better or will be better tomorrow. If you feel strongly about a superior service, please email your recommendation to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I may revise this page to include your information
Updated: November 29th 2010..
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