If you’re looking for another way to use social media marketing and track your efforts, a URL shortener can help streamline your links, add legitimacy, and more.
It’s interesting how the length of a URL, or the characters it contains, can really impact the legitimacy of how that URL comes across. It could be a perfectly fine URL, just long and complex. But when someone sees a URL like that, they may be put off and start wondering if this is a URL they should visit or send to a friend.
An easy way around this situation is to use a URL shortener.
Overview: What is a URL shortener?
A URL shortener is an online tool that allows you to enter a long URL and receive a shortened version in return. It sounds too simple, but it is the reality. There are free link shorteners and others that you will have to pay for, but either way short URLs will work in your favor.
How URL shorteners work
Once you’ve decided which custom URL shortener you’re going to use, if it’s a free tool, you’ll probably just need to create an account to get started. However, sometimes it is enough to paste the long URL into the allocated space on a website.
If it is a paid tool, you will need to purchase a subscription before you can use the URL shortener and access all additional features. Once this is taken care of, the process is quite simple.
Benefits of Using a URL Shortener
Besides being more pleasing to the eye, shortened URLs can have the following additional benefits.
All URLs start the same way, but after that initial similarity, they can follow many different paths. If you’re trying to build a brand and you’re doing it through a social media campaign, it’s crucial that all of your links are the same length and look very similar.
Shortened links look better in Instagram bios, as well as Twitter bios. They give a clean look to a page that might otherwise be overwhelmed with photos and other types of content.
Easier to replicate
That doesn’t happen much anymore, given the ability to copy and paste a link from virtually any device. But if someone chose to share a URL by typing it in a message, then having to type 45 different numbers, letters, and characters is not efficient. There’s too much room for error, and a potential sharer might end up getting frustrated and quitting before sharing your link with anyone.
Another benefit of using an online tool to shorten a link is that link clicks can be tracked. This is not only beneficial for your business as a whole, but for whoever is handling your social media management.
When that person or team goes to report, having metrics for links is just as important as tracking likes, comments, follows, etc.
A shortened link matching other links on your digital marketing materials and social media content gives you legitimacy as a business. Long URLs with random characters and numbers can look dodgy, especially to a new customer. If you’re aiming for high social media engagement, using shortened URLs may be just what you need.
Disadvantages of Using a URL Shortener
While this tool is a great option for many reasons, it’s also important to be aware of possible downsides.
You have no idea where a link takes you when it’s in an abbreviated form. This can be helped by using a custom domain, but even then it might look suspicious.
Suppose you want to visit a website for the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines. The link to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website with related news and updates looks like this:
You know it takes you to an FDA page, and from the rest of the link you have a good idea of what’s going to be on that page. Here is the same URL after being shortened:
You have no idea why this is a link, and if someone sent it to you without any context, it would either be blocked or you would find it suspicious and not click on it.
If you use a link shortener, like the ones listed in the next section, and one of them goes under or makes major changes, your links could become stale. You may not even realize that your links aren’t working for weeks or even months.
Obviously, this could be bad for business because if your links don’t work consistently and time goes by without them being updated, that could be a sign that your business isn’t reliable either.
The 8 Best URL Shorteners You Should Try
Apart from the benefits listed above, URL shorteners are essential social media tools that businesses should use.
With little, not only can you shorten your URLs, but the tool offers features specifically aimed at businesses that want a personalized linking experience. Here’s a sample of what you can do with Bitly:
- Replace bit.ly with your brand
- Easy Link Redirection
- Information such as geographic data and reference channels
- Over 700 integrations
- Create secure links
Bitly is not a free tool, although you can try it for free before subscribing to a package. The basic plan will cost you $29/month, but you can also get a custom quote based on your specific needs.
TinyURL is a much less intensive URL shortener than Bitly. When you visit the website, you immediately encounter a simple web page and you can enter your long URL directly on the main page and shorten it in seconds.
Because of its simplicity and being free, you don’t get any of the bells and whistles that you do with some of the others, but if you’re strictly looking for a URL shortener, TinyURL is a great option.
3. WHITE INK
FLASH comes at a price, but it offers so much more than just link shortening. Some of its characteristics are:
- Link management: Track clicks on a specific day or over a period of time.
- Analytic: Track clicks by country, city or region.
- Integrations: Connect to other tools, such as Google Chrome, Zoho, and Zapier.
- Confidentiality and data security: BL.INK is Privacy Shield certified and GDPR compliant.
- Customer service and support: Get help with best practices, FAQs, and general advice with a fast customer service team.
There are five pricing tiers for BL.INK ranging from $12/month to $599/month, with custom pricing available. Each level includes different levels of redirects, active links, tracked clicks, users, domains, hot links, and GDPR compliance for data protection and privacy.
Another paid link shortening and management tool, Rebranding offers:
- Workspaces and teammates: Create separate folders for members of the same team for collaboration.
- Several domain names: If you don’t already have one, you can get one through Rebrandly.
- Custom scans: Pick and choose what you want to track and report, like social media clicks, click spikes, and top devices.
- Traffic routing and deep links: There, the option to send people to certain landing pages or social media pages based on location, device, browsing habits, etc.
- Dedicated integration: A member of the Rebrandly team will walk you through everything you need to know.
- Account management: A dedicated manager will take care of your account, any service issues or requests.
Rebrandly is primarily a paid tool, but there is a free option, along with three other pricing tiers ranging from $29/month to $499/month. Custom pricing is also available.
With more features than listed here, T2M is yet another URL shortening tool. It offers all the typical link shortening options you’d expect, such as custom short URLs, link redirects, and QR codes, but it also has over a dozen other features that might benefit you.
As for pricing, there are five tiers, starting at $5/month and going all the way up to $89.99/month. There are custom prizes after that.
Like T2M, if all you’re looking to do is shorten a URL, you can do that for free right on the home page of Cutt.ly, but if you’re looking for full link management, it can do that too. Here are some features it offers:
- brand url
- Links and redirects
- Link analysis history
- A/B testing
- Members of the team
Cutt.ly has four pricing tiers, starting at free and going all the way up to $149/month.
Click works much the same as the other URL shorteners above and offers the following features:
- Brand domains
- Daily traffic reports
- Account Manager
- QR codes
- Geographic redirects
- Detailed analyzes
Of course, there may be more or less features, depending on the plan you choose. Each of the three options starts with a 14-day free trial and will cost you between $10/month and $100/month thereafter.
If you are already a Hootsuite user, Ow.ly will be integrated directly into your dashboard. It used to be available to anyone with or without a Hootsuite account, but now it’s only available to Hootsuite users.
The good news is that the free version of Hootsuite gives you full access to Ow.ly, but you can also upgrade if you want. With Ow.ly, you’ll be able to shorten links, measure traffic, and track social media ROI.
One last word
URL shorteners don’t have to be used as a social media marketing tool, but one of the best social media marketing tips you’ll find is to shorten your links. As mentioned, there are many reasons for this, such as streamlining your links and tracking clicks and other analytics.
Any of the eight URL shorteners listed above will benefit your business, so feel free to sign up with any of them.