A couple months ago I was promoting my friend’s new book on Twitter (edit: oh yea, and Facebook) and just naturally shortened the Amazon link I attached. The reason I do this is so I can track how many of my social media followers are actually clicking on the links that I share. I mean think about it, we see so much content shared throughout our days, who knows how much of the content you endorse is actually engaged with. Instead, by simply shortening a link with Bit.ly before I share new content, I get an opportunity to see some really helpful analytics around who clicks my links, as well as how influential my share was compared to other bit.ly users who shared the link.

 

bitly stats

Click to see full stats

 

Now these stats don’t let me quantify the number of sales I drove to my friend’s book, but at least I can see how effective my posts were. This way if I saw there were little or no clicks after a few hours, I may want to go back and revise my copywriting, the image I used or change the time of day or day of the week I post this type of content.

For another cool example (and the reason I was reminded to write this post), I posted something a couple weeks ago that got a bunch of engagement on Twitter.

 

bitly engagement

 

Its always nice to get a bunch of favorites and retweets when you share a post, and in this instance I really was just sharing a post, it wasn’t even original content. But we all know just because someone favorites or retweets your post, it doesn’t mean they actually read the content you were sharing. So once again, by replacing the original URL with my shortened Bit.ly link, I was able to see actual metrics around the engagement my post received…
social media bitly metrics

 

Now Twitter has started to share some analytics insight into the number of impressions and engagements your tweets get, the problem with this is that they don’t track the ultimate “reach” of the content you shared. This is where Twitter’s analytics are inherently lacking. You can see in the Twitter notifications above that my tweet was retweeted by @AustinTexasFan, which received an additional 12 favorites and 4 retweets. Unfortunately as you can see below, those engagements weren’t recorded in the Twitter analytics for me tweet…

 

twitter impressions

 

Luckily, the retweet included my shortened link as well, so in those bit.ly analytics (above) I can see the actual number of clicks my link received throughout all shares (tweets and subsequent retweets) giving me a much clearer view of the actual influence my tweet had.

So this is all cool and nerdy if you like numbers and statistics, but what is the reason? Why would someone want to go through this extra effort?

Well imagine if you were the employee of a brand publishing out content to your thousands of followers. You may have thought Twitter analytics would give you sufficient insight into the impression and engagement numbers your tweets were actually getting. My example above is obviously a much smaller scale, but if your tweets are getting 10x to 100x as many retweets as I get, that only means that your Twitter analytics numbers are just that much more skewed.

What do you think? Do you shorten links before sharing on your social networks?