If you are regular user of Twitter or facebook you will be more than likely familiar with weblinks looking a bit like this bit.ly/dDIMqp.

But what are they, how do they work and should I use them?

Well they are shortned URLs (web addresses or links), and once clicked they direct the user to the ‘real’ web address.
For example http://stonecollective.co.uk/how-to-get-your-picture-on-comments-left-on-blogs-and-forums/ which is 99 characters long,  shortend looks like this http://bit.ly/aWd4PM

There are many URL shortners services/websites available, most of which provide the service for FREE. But not all of them offer the same level of service.

3 popular services are bit.ly | gog.gl | tinyurl.com

How do you use them?

Quite simply put, go the website of the url shortening service, type in the full website address you want to shorten, press the button and within seconds you will have your lovely new shortened URL.

Why Should you use them and where?

Twitter is the big one, as you are limited to 140 characters per tweet, keeping a URL as short as possible is crucial, as in some cases the web address could well be longer than 140 characters.

You can also use them to track the links you create.

For instance Vicki Stone Marketing uses bit.ly as it is easy to use and setup. You can use bit.ly on its own, however if you setup an a basic account with them (which is FREE) you are able then to track how many times that link has been clicked on, reweeted or mentioned elsewhere.

This can be useful in terms of discovering which of the tweets and articles you publish are generating interest. With practice you will soon discover how and what promotional tweets to write and at what time of the day to share them.

Vicki Stone Marketing also integrates bit.ly within Tweet deck, so as we type our tweets any URL’s are shortened automatically.

Url shortened links can be used in all sorts of online activity such as Facebook (see our article on claiming your own facebook URL) Linked In, Flickr even in plain old text messages.

If you need any help with any aspect of social media or marketing give us a shout.

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