How to Shorten a Link for Social Media

 

The answer to the question, how to shorten links for social media, has evolved over the course of the past 15 years. Why? We’re living through waves of digital change. Or storms as some digital marketers see it. Over the years – the internet has created a platform for digital trends to evolve. As these trends move through their lifecycles, best practices also change, and that’s no different for shortening links.

Social media has been one of the largest storms to hit the world of marketing, and how to shorten links to share on social media has always been an area of question. If we were talking about how to shorten a link in 2006, when Twitter was launched, we’d be having an entirely different conversation.

Today you could be reading this blog with a few preconceptions.

  1. Why are you even writing this blog? I just paste my long link into Twitter and it shortens it.
  2. What can the short URL really do to benefit (or harm) my social media posts?

This article will answer both questions – and go through the different ways of how to shorten a link for social media, and how this differs on each platform.

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The history of how to shorten a link online

The link has always been the vehicle to get from one place to another on the internet. Links are one of the most taken for granted parts of the “internet machine.” Just as they could also be viewed as one of the most undervalued parts of your marketing strategy.

Links are long. Links are busy. Links can be distracting from your overall marketing message.

shorten a link

Like this example from GQ. This was sent to me in an email from Pocket (a great tool for content curation by the way) that clearly has UTM parameters attached to it. If this link was shared on social media without shortening the link, it would take up the entire post.

Because social media users immediately realized just how ugly these links looked, now that they weren’t just confined to search bars, these links needed to be shortened. The original solution for how to shorten a link on social media was to use a generic URL shortener. These URL shorteners worked like this:

You’d put a long URL into the service (such as Bitly, Googl, TinyURL, or Twitter’s automatic link shortener t.co) and come out with a link that was shortened but lost your brand name and the slug in the process. For example, short.ly/hgy71.

But, it was all we knew, and it did look a lot better than sharing a long URL with messy parameters attached for the world to see. But, the internet evolved, new technologies developed, and new trends in marketing came along.

shorten a link

As marketing moved from Don Draper’s Mad Men vibes to a data and results driven discipline – CMO’s began asking the question, but why? But why are we running that campaign? How do we know it’s working? Prove it.

Marketers reacted by adding dozens of tools and products to their arsenals in order to better track their campaigns and make decisions from data rather than off instinct.

Not only did marketer’s jobs evolve, but so did consumer expectations.

Consumers became more and more wary of brands and links in particular on social media.

Because of this consumer trend, good marketers realized that when crafting tweets or posts, they must be polished to represent their company in a positive light while remaining true to brand image and voice. All of these actions develop brand consistency and trust on social media.

Creating trust and brand consistency on social media was done by sharing brand themed images, language, and through interactions with other accounts. However, if the shortened link does not feature the brand that’s sharing the link, the movement towards creating brand consistency is severed.

How to shorten a link on social media that maintains brand consistency and creates trust

Just as social media evolved to create a better experience for the user, and marketers evolved from 1950’s Mad Men to data driven and results focused, how to shorten a link for social media also evolved.

Rather than just shortening a link, you can brand them. Basically, when you paste your link into a branded link management platform like Rebrandly, you’re able to keep your brand name AND edit the URL slug.

how to shorten a link

Branded links tie your social media marketing strategy together. Since we’re all so reliant on the link, why not give your brand more recognition when sharing them, rather than the brand of the URL shortening company?

For the modern marketer, how to shorten a link on social media means using a branded link.

How to shorten a link for social media: Why branded links are the answer

1. Track every click which leads to better business decisions.

The question is, why are you only tracking people and their behavior with your brand once they land on your site? Start tracking them from their first interaction – when they click the link. With branded links, you’re able to get real-time individual link data, as well as aggregated data from campaigns – not to mention a built-in UTM builder.

2. No more one-off link shortening. With branded links, manage all link assets in one place.

It’s time to finally create a strategy around your links. With a link management system, say goodbye to quickly shortening a link hoping it was interacted with, or shortening through different services, keep them all together.

3. Get more advanced features with branded links.

Firstly, you can never make a mistake when you use a branded link. Even if you shorten the wrong link to create a branded link and share it on social media, you’re able to just edit the destination URL (or where the link goes.) It sounds more complicated than it is- check out this blog to learn more about how it can be done in seconds with Rebrandly.

4. Save time through integrations

No one has time for extra tasks in their day. Branded link management platform, Rebrandly has tools, integrations with the most popular sites, mobile apps, and browser extensions to make branding links quick and painless.

5. And finally, they have YOUR brand on them, not some other company’s!

This is the most important point. You work hard for your brand. Keeping it consistent, to create trust with the modern day consumer. When you have your brand on your links not only do they stand out, this can drive click-through rates by up to 39%. This is because your audience is confident that the link is shared by you, and it doesn’t lead to some spammy site. Not only is your name on the link, but you can also tell the audience where the link leads through the slug.

Let’s run through how these links look when they are in action.  

Lamborghini uses branded links to shorten its name while telling their audience where the link will go when they click on it.

how to shorten links

Panda Express uses their branded domain to showcase their brand on every link they share in a clear and creative way while prompting the reader with a CTA to order now.

how to shorten link

To conclude, let’s go back to your initial preconceptions.

  1. Why are you even writing this blog? I just paste my long link into Twitter and it shortens it.
    Yes, you can shorten links directly within social media platforms or with generic link shorteners, but you lose trust, data, and your brand’s name.

  2. What can the short URL really do to benefit (or harm) my social media posts?
    Branded links increase brand awareness and consistency leading to increased trust – which can result in a higher click-through rate. So yes, the branded short URL can benefit your posts.

    You also are allowed more creative freedom with branded links through editing the slug and the destination of the URL. Whereas generic links on social media can harm your engagement and click-through rates in particular because the audience does not know where the link will lead.

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I’d love to hear more about your experiences shortening links with both generic URL shorteners and branded link shorteners. Comment below!

Further Reading:

This Article is About:

Hannah Harrington
Hannah is the content manager at Rebrandly, a link management solution that empowers users to put their brand name on all the links they share. With a background in marketing and creative writing, Hannah’s passion lies in telling compelling customer stories. You can find this American expat exploring the streets of Dublin or nestled up with a cozy cup of tea.