Ian Lurie // Apr 28 2010
Social media leads to dispersed messaging. In as little as an hour, you can end up sending out a few Tweets, hitting Facebook with updates, writing a blog post and submitting to Behance. Plus, as folks pass those links around, they may use their own URL shorteners, removing any tracking codes you’ve added. The bastards.
I’ve cast about for a solution for a long time, but the truth is, it’s right in front of me: Bit.ly:
Bit.ly is a url shortener. It takes a long URL like www.mysite.com/this/that/theother/andthattoo/index.html and turns it into something like bit.ly/aceawe.
You can even create custom URLs. For example, the link for Portent’s most excellent 10Things program is bit.ly/X-things.
You too can enjoy all of this coolness, for free. That’s right – it doesn’t cost a dime.
First, you need to set up an account.
Bit.ly has this nifty gadget, the Bit.ly Sidebar. It lets you create a shortened bit.ly link, and view the stats for that link, right on the target page:
It’s a ‘bookmarklet’, so you can use it in any browser that supports bookmarks.
That’s it – all set!
Here’s a quick breakdown of the data you get in the sidebar:
Some tools, like Tweetdeck, have built-in bit.ly support. Hootsuite doesn’t, though, and they try to make you use their own URL shorteners. But, you can paste in a bit.ly URL by hand. For purposes of this tutorial I’m going to assume you have to do this by hand. To create and use a bit.ly URL:
That’s it. You’re ready to start tracking.
You can check the clickthru data any time by navigating back to the target page and opening the bit.ly sidebar.
You can also get more detailed data, and compare it to other links you’ve created, by clicking ‘info’, right next to ‘copy’.
At your next meeting, when a manager gets on your case because they say you’re wasting your time on stupid stuff like social media, calmly point out that you generated 1200 clicks directly to your website, and that there were 3400 Tweets from the last coupon offer. Then bask in the glory of being the best-informed person in the room.
Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an internet marketing agency that has provided internet marketing, including PPC, SEO, social and analytics services, since 1995. Read More