Track Your Links with bit.ly

Ever wonder if anyone clicked the link you included in a Twitter post? Wonder no more. Try bit.ly.

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bit.ly is an extremely simple-to-use tool that shortens URLs. As a result, it makes sharing links via Twitter or Facebook even easier. That’s valuable because sharing quality and helpful content is important for your credibility. Best of all, it allows you to track have many people clicked on your link and if they have reTweeted your Twitter post.

Here’s an example of how and when to use bit.ly. Let’s say I wanted to publicize my latest blog post over twitter.

The real URL is this: http://www.brand5.com/blog/best-wordpress-plugins.

If i go to bit.ly and paste that URL into the “shorten” box at the top of the page, bit.ly will shorten the URL to something like this: http://bit.ly/pLtfh.

You’ll notice that both links go to the same page on my blog. By shortening the link to my post, bit.ly saved me a whole bunch of characters to write more in my Twitter post – which is crucial when I am limited to only 140 character per post.

But the coolest part of bit.ly is the tracking feature. After I create a link, I can tell how many people clicked it and if anyone else reTweeted my link through their own Twitter account.

Here’s an example of a tracking report from a Twitter post we did for a client of ours, Easy Estimated Taxes right around the September 15 estimated tax deadline:

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This report shows that Twitter post received 141 clicks. It also shows the breakdown of those clicks by day. If someone had reTweeted this post or if it had ended up on FriendFeed, I would have seen it on this page under “Conversations”.

So from now on, every time you want to share a link, track it through a bit.ly account (setup an account).  Then keep an eye on how many of your readers click and circulate your links.

Watching your clicks will help you do two important things:
1. Learn what topics your audience wants to know more about. High click amounts will tell you what’s popular.
2. Write more enticing Twitter posts¬† – you’ll determine what makes those links attractive enough for people to want to click. That’s a skill. No one will click a link unless they think there’s value for them at the other end.

Let me know how what you think of bit.ly.

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