Twitter has definitely been the social network of the week, thanks to a certain Congressman who has learned an important lesson the hard way about the difference between a tweet and a direct message (the first is public, the second is theoretically private). There isn't much to say about this that hasn't already been said in the last few days.
In an apparent effort to get the attention of the public back on its REAL purpose, Twitter is reminding everyone about its awesome 140-character-at-a-time message delivery, by re-introducing its URL shortening service. Condensing one's posts to 140 characters that make sense takes some practice and finesse, and this gets even more difficult when you want to share a link with a long URL. For this reason, people have been using URL shortening services like bit.ly, and ow.ly.
Twitter used to automatically shorten longer URLs using bit.ly, which made helped to make bit.ly extremely popular. It also got to the point where there were so many new bit.ly URLs being created every day, that bit.ly URLs were really that short anymore.
Eventually, Twitter rolled out t.co, which is Twitter's own URL shortener. While it has been in use for several months, it is being hailed this week as a new feature.
The downside to using this one is that right now, there are no stats available, as there are with several of the other URL shorteners. For those who measure Twitter "success" in terms of retweets and replies, however, this shortener works just fine. The upside is that what is visible to users is a 19-character truncated version of the original URL. The advantage to this is that people can see the name of the website you have linked to. With most of the other shortening services, you have no idea what site you'll be visiting until you get there, and this has left the door wide open for spam and phishing sites.
So now, feel free to share your links, and enjoy the full use of your remaining 121 characters!
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.