Tuesday, 7 April 2009

URL Shorteners

The photo featured in this blog post is an example of how not to promote a URL.

Do the proprietors of the restaurant genuinely believe that their customers will be able to remember an address that long and tenuous?

The image serves as being a great example of how URLs don't always translate well into print media. This can also apply to URL shorteners. Around a year ago The Times starting printing links which one would have been hard pressed to remember.

The likes of tinyurl have been around for a number of years, but it is only with the emergence of Twitter that URL shorteners really come into their own. Other players now include is.gd, url(x) and bit.ly

The focus on this blog post is on bit.ly as I find it the most useful, and as it has recently received coverage from Techcrunch for receiving VC funding.

bit.ly slays the rest of the competition as it allows users to customise URLs , and gives detailed stats on click throughs. The customisation feature is handy as it allows you to stamp your own identity on an otherwise unbranded piece of content, allowing for greater promotional opportunities. In turn, it makes URLs easier to remember for people who are interested in visiting the link at a later time.

One of my own personal tips for using bit.ly for personal branding is to use the service to grab a shortened URL to your Facebook profile, and to customise it with your name. I have done this by linking bit.ly/nicklevine to my Facebook profile. This overcomes the problem of Facebook not adopting the protocols of URLs adopted by most other social networks.

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