Shortening links is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get valuable insights on what’s working in your digital marketing. And just as important – what’s not working.
For the record: the terms “URL” and “link” are used interchangeably here. Sorry about that. They pretty much mean the same thing: an address on the world wide web (the internet).
Example: fanbooster.com/blog is both a URL and a link.
What is a URL shortener?
A link shortener – or URL shortener – is a pretty simple tool where you take a long URL, paste it into the shortener, and abrakadabra! – back you get a really short URL. It can look like bit.ly/example, or it can be the one you’ll get with Fanbooster: fb.st/example
The best part about link shortening is perhaps the statistics. Link shorteners add a layer of info to your links, which means that in return you can see how many people clicked on your link, when they clicked, where in the world the clicked from, and more.
Why is a link shortener useful?
- As for the shortening itself, this is handy because long URLs are.. long.., and take up valuable space in your various updates around the web. (And if you’re more advanced and use Google UTM tagging, the link can be pretty embarrassing. You don’t want that link – with all the info you’ve put into it – clearly visible all over the web.)
- The statistics are in many cases all the stats you need. They’re perhaps the most easily accessible stats you can find on the web. The answer they give you are basic, but answer what’s often your most important question: How many people clicked on my link?
How to use link shorteners effectively?
We’re super pressed for time, so we use our own link shortener – fb.st – a lot to get quick stats on what we do. Be it a tweet where we want to see how many people clicked. Or a newsletter.
When we do have time to test, we do simple tests like “What gives the most clicks – Twitter or Linkedin?” Here’s how we’d set up that test:
- We start with a link, like the link to the Fanbooster Thursday Marketing Tips: http://fanbooster.com/blog/category/thursday-tip/
- We shorten it in Fanbooster’s URL shortener, and it gives us this link: http://fb.st/rb50rx. For the most part you can skip the http:// in front, and just go with the fb.st/…
- Asked if we want to edit this link, we answer YES, and add twitter as the parameter. A parameter adds more info to the URL, here twitter. For my own- and colleagues’ reference, I give the link the name All Thursday Tips / Twitter. This is just for internal use, to have some understandable system for all the links. I hit Save. The link looks like this: http://fb.st/hfefw6
- In my list I now have two links. The original link to all the Thursday Marketing Tips (see step 2), and the Twitter-version (see step 3). Am I done? No, it gets better. I take the original link (step 2), and hit the edit button. I repeat (step 3) but this time add linkedin as the parameter, and name the link All Thursday Tips / LinkedIn
I go on to share what I want to share, and use the Twitter-link on Twitter, and LinkedIn-link on LinkedIn. We’ve done this a lot, and one of our findings is that LinkedIn is a very poor source of organic traffic for us. Unfortunately. We wish the results were better. Twitter, surprisingly, is actually a really good source of traffic for us. This has a lot to do with the follower bases that we have on LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s way larger on Twitter. But it’s a type of finding that’s made us prioritize Twitter far more than LinkedIn. You’re busy, so you should be making priorities like that in your everyday work life. And in our experience, you make way better priorities based on actual numbers, than you do based on a gut feeling. Your gut might be a good guide elsewhere, but not in the choice between which social network to prioritize. Your gut doesn’t care.
Why use fb.st rather than all those other silly URL shorteners?;)
1) CTA Overlay. How would you like a link that boomerangs people back to your website after you’ve sent them somewhere else? Say what? Let’s say you run a car dealership. And a respected online newspaper has just written a great review about a car that you sell. You want your customers to read that review, and then you want them to book a test drive. But today if you send your audience out into that online newspaper article, they’re lost, and probably go on to read a related story about a cat in a tree or something. With fb.st you can add a banner ad with a button to the online review article. And that link can have call to actions (CTAs) like “Click here to book a test drive”.
2) Open graph. Open graph is explained like this: “The Open Graph protocol enables any web page to become a rich object in a social graph.” This means that a web page with open graph tags will look nice and informative when shared on Facebook. Web pages that aren’t optimized for this, will mostly not look great when you share them on Facebook, and so forth. With the URL shortener in Fanbooster (fb.st) you can edit or add open graph information to the URLs you shorten. No open graph on your website? No problem. Fb.st takes care of that.
3) Link shortener appearance. We – and many with us – believe that fb.st looks more pro than many other similar services.