October 24, 2011

The Bit.ly Info Page Is Your Friend

Here’s a plug for a tool I’ve found very useful in calibrating my net presence. If yours includes links, and constitutes an outreach effort of some kind—that is, you care how many people respond to your links by clicking on them—you may find it equally helpful.

We all know the main purpose of link shorteners. Before Twitter embedded its own URL-shrinker in its interface, bit.ly was clearly the leader in the field. I still find it the service to use, because of the metrics it gives you when you create a link while signed into their site. If you add their bookmarklet to your browser, you get a fast way to generate links from pages, which then propagate to Twitter and Facebook. One presumes that Google+ will join the list when its API goes public.

The bookmarklet gives you a handy 140-character editing window and allows you to pick thumbnails for Facebook.

The thing I’m finding really useful about bit.ly is the ability to go to a list of one’s links, in what is called your public timeline, and see how popular each item has been. For each link you can consult an info page that lists other Twitter cites, tells you when clicks occurred, and from what platform.

It was through these info pages that I first saw how effective Google+ was in driving attention, even a few weeks into its launch. Though I’m sometimes surprised by how much (or how little) mileage a given link gets, it provides an ongoing reminder of the sorts of subjects my readers are interested in—or not.

Those who link purely out of self-expression won’t find much to care about here, unless they feel irresistibly drawn to pie charts. But if you link to your own blog or other articles to maintain a profile or get a message out, your bit.ly timeline will assist in fine-tuning your choices.