Social Media Communication - Make It short!
Tuesday, 3rd March 2015 at 9:57 am
Even a minor tweak to the way Not for Profits use social media can potentially make a big difference in engagement, writes Mathan Allington from Connecting Up who shares one great tip that any organisation can quickly adopt.
A URL (web address) shortener is used to tidy up tweets and posts, provide insights into performance and also offer some customised branding options.
My personal favourite URL shortener is Bit.ly which has some great free options available, plus some management services like Hootsuite have their own URL shorteners available (with free and paid options).
To help the appearance of your posts, you can use a URL shortener to tidy up the really long links into something much neater and easier to work with.
For Twitter specifically, they used to count every single character in a long URL, but no longer do this when you use a long address. Even so, using your own URL shortener means you can control the exact look of the tweet to your audience.
If you are posting images to Facebook to tell your story, and want to link to a webpage, a shortened URL is perfect to keep everything neat and tidy, without the link dominating the image caption.
Other benefits of a URL shortener are that you can use their tracking service for instant feedback on links clicks and engagement. Twitter and Facebook now both offer analytics, and there are options in website analytics to get some of the same information, but if you are a social media manager you may not have access to all of the website data and this is an easy way to get some quick measure on your campaigns.
Some URL services even offer a custom branded option for short addresses. So what are custom-branded URL’s, and why would I want one?
A custom branded URL is usually a shortened version of your original domain name, often removing vowels or repeat letters, and using a short domain extensions (the bit after your organisation name and the first ‘dot’ e.g. replacing ‘.org.au’).
As an example, you may have come across domain names shortened by a Google URL shortener or as a link to a Google service. Instead of www.google.com.au/insert-long-page-name-here, a URL could be shortened to goo.gl/a1b2c3 (insert randomly generated sequence of numbers and letters after ‘/’).
Some URL shorteners even let you customise the part after the ‘/’, to make it look even more in line with your branding and campaign. In the example below, you can see how the shortened URL has been customised to contain the keywords of ‘Skype’ and ‘vouchers’.
The original address looks like this: http://www.connectingup.org/donations/microsoft/20-skype-credit-voucher – your address could even be much longer, and on the whole the shortened URL is much easier to work with.
To make shortening your URL’s easy, and not adding to your workload, there are some simple tools available. Bit.ly offer easy browser extensions for easy shortening as you browse, or even an iPhone app for easy copy and paste. Hootsuite users have shorteners built into their system, which can also be accessed through browser extensions.
There are several other services available, so do a little research, find one that works for you and start exploring the world of short URL’s.
About the author: Mathan Allington is the Community Engagement Coordinator at Connecting Up – a capacity building Not for Profit organisation working with other Not for Profits in Australia and New Zealand.