In the early days, like 12 months ago, URL shortening services could get by if they just make big urls into little ones. These services are now providing more value than simply url shortening and choosing an url shortening service is like forging a business partnership. You do your part by creating, finding and sharing great links and you’ll need a dependable partner there to serve your redirected urls dependably, for the foreseeable future. So, choose wisely. We’ll take a brief look at some of the services currently available…but there are many others we won’t cover today. Depending on your needs, you may want to take a look at some of the additional capabilities that are starting to appear in some of the premier URL shortening services.
Su.pr is probably one of the least known gems in the URL shortening space. We think that’s going to change pretty soon after people realize how powerful it could be. Su.pr is a service of StumbleUpon one of the premier social bookmarking sites. In addition to URL shortening, su.pr provides analytics, automatic posting to twitter through their web site. Urls posted through su.pr are also posted to StumbleUpon community, where roughly 8 Million users could see your link. In addition, su.pr provides a developer API, as well as some wordpress plug-ins to round out the offering.
Ow.ly is another great example of a value-added URL shortening service. In this case, you have to look at the associated value of the hootsuite client. With more features than you can shake a small forest of sticks at, hootsuite is an extremely capable Twitter client. Most importantly, it provides features for both beginning as well as advanced Twitter users – even those managing multiple Twitter accounts and those with multiple editors.
Bit.ly we have to admit is one of our long standing favorites. As url shortening services go it’s been around for a while and it’s robust service has been running smoothly and dependably. Url shortening services are popping up left and right it seems and, in our book, there is a lot to be said for bit.ly’s record of service and great tools. Bit.ly offer browser tools bars and plugins for blog platforms like WordPress that will let you create a short link from your blog’s back end, while surfing the net, or from their website. There service is even built in to a few twitter apps. So, here’s the great part. After you’ve tweeted a few links visit the bit.ly website and check your free account. Bit.ly generously provides you with a simple report that shows how many times your link has been followed or retweeted. Simply visit the search page on their site and enter your shortened url to see what happened after you sent it off to the twitterverse. What’s better, since these traffic reports are very close to real time, you can watch the clicks count up [or not as may be the case] and experiment with some different headlines or lead phrases to see what peaks the most interest.
In contrast, we recently learned that tr.im another popular url shortening service created by the gang at The Nambu Network is now defunked. We’d have linked to their website but were not sure it’ll be up by the time you read this. Here’s a excerpt from their recent announcement:
Regretfully, we here at Nambu have decided to shutdown tr.im, the first step in shutting down all of our products and services within that brand.
tr.im did well for what it was, but, alas, it was not enough. We simply cannot find a way to justify continuing to work on it, or pay its network costs, which are not inconsequential. tr.im pushes (as I write this) a lot of redirects and URL creations per day, and this required significant development investment and server expansion to accommodate.
tr.im has thousands and thousands of users, creating tens of thousands of URLs per day. But, we were a little surprised to learn, *no one* wanted to take it over. We quietly contacted a number of people within the Twitter development world, and nobody wanted it in exchange a token amount of money. No one perceived any value in it, or they wanted to operate a shortener under a differently branded domain name.
And, users will not pay for URL shortening, and why should they?
Their post goes on to say that redirected links created using the url shortener will operate until December 31, 2009.
So, while we’ve suggested some great url shortening services, the final entry about tr.im provides us with a cautionary tale: choose wisely! All of these services are free which means the providers of them must find, or already have, alternative ways to monetize their efforts. Hosting all the url redirects can be a costly endeavor and moving forward these TwitterFools think we’ll see both expansion and contraction in this market space. As new providers come online others will most surely exit the stage. Our advice – choose a platform that doesn’t stand alone, one that has the backing of other income producing efforts that help support the service or you may find, one day, that all your short urls go no where at all. Of course, if you have your own website or a blog – you could always explore setting up your own url shortener; but, we’ll have to cover that at another time.
Of course, we are always interested to hear what you think about it. Please, let us know.