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Your Twitter Weekend Homework: Get To Know Bit.ly

Bit.ly is the most popular link shortening service for Twitter. And it’s popular for a reason. It’s got some great stats that helps you share, track and analyze the links you shorten, so you can monitor your social media efforts more thoroughly. Your Twitter homework for this weekend is to get to know how bit.ly works, and start using it to shorten your own links on Twitter.

No doubt you’ve seen many shortened links using the bit.ly service. While some people use HootSuite’s internal ow.ly service and others use Google’s goo.gl (and I’m sure many are using Twitter’s official URL shortener), bit.ly remains the most popular, and the most visible on Twitter.

Bit.ly offers you the ability to not only take a super long link and shorten it to just 20 characters, but it also provides powerful analytics to track how many people clicked on the link and other data.

So, here’s your homework for the weekend:

Choose something to share via Twitter (prefereably something with a ridiculously long URL so you can really see bit.ly in action). Copy the URL and paste it into the text field at bit.ly and click “Shorten”.

Next, copy that shortened link into your Twitter dashboard, Twitter.com or mobile Twitter app, and add a description. Then, go ahead and tweet it out.

Give yourself a few minutes here, time enough for a follower or two to retweet your link. Then, paste the bit.ly link into your address bar and add a “+” sign to the end of the link.

You’ll be taken to a page that will show you, in graphical form, how many people have clicked on that specific bit.ly link. You can watch the clicks come in in near real-time, and you can view all of the clicks in the past hour, day, week, month or more. There is also data on the geographical location of those who clicked, as well as the referring sites.

You don’t need to sign up for an account to use bit.ly, but if you like the service, I recommend you do. It’s easier to track multiple links if you have an account, and you can also choose to go Pro and get your own skinned bit.ly link shortener, such as mbist.ro.

Play around with this data a bit, and I guarantee you’ll want to start shortening all of your links using bit.ly, if you aren’t already.

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