I was posting a link from the Washington Post to Twitter this weekend, and needed to shorten the link URL, to fit into Twitter's 140-character space limit. In the past, I've used Bit.ly for this service, my favorite one of many URL-shortening services. Normally, instead of a URL that includes the original domain name and title of the article I'm posting (e.g. http://washingtonpost.com/very-long-name-of-article), which takes up most of my space limit, I end up with something short and sweet (e.g. http://bit.ly/aBcDeF), which only uses about 20 precious character spaces of my 140 available.
Well, this time, when shortening my Washington Post article, I ended up with this URL: It's still 20 characters, but is clearly a Washington Post URL. Upon further investigation, I found that organizations who have signed up for Bit.ly's "pro" service have their URLs shortened to a custom shortened URL.
At first I panicked. My favorite reason for using Bit.ly is that you can copy and past any Bit.ly URL into your browser window and add the "+" (plus) symbol at the end of it, and quickly view the traffic on that URL. Much to my relief, I found that the service is still available on these custom shortened URL. Very cool.
It works on Facebook, too. For example, if I want to create a shortened URL for Coca-Cola's photo page on Facebook, I end up with this: http://on.fb.me/hPmbnB. If I post that on Twitter or somewhere else, I can easily track how many people have used that link by using this link: http://bit.ly/hPmbnB+ (notice the plus sign). These statistics do not reflect how many people have visited that page, but specifically number of people who have followed the link I just created to that page.
The Bit.ly/Pro page also lists Peps (pep.si), Yahoo! (yhoo.it), Foursquare (4sq.com), and C-Span (cs.pn) among its list of famous early adopters.
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.