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How to share links on social media: URL optimization for marketers

how to share links on social media

Sharing links is how marketers get the word out about a product, service or brand. Whether you’re posting to social media, sharing links in a newsletter or directing customers to your latest YouTube video, links are often the first point of contact with customers online.

But it’s not as straight forward as posting a long URL on social media and hoping for clicks – at least for savvy marketers, it shouldn’t be.

Each post, tweet, and email should be polished and perfected so that it represents your company in a positive light and maintains consistency with your brand image. From creating on-brand graphics, images and videos, to writing in a consistent tone of voice, it all makes your brand more appealing and builds trust with your audience.

And one of the best ways to maintain consistency and entice users to take action is by using branded URLs. Along with boosting brand visibility and awareness, they show your audience that the content they’re clicking on is coming from the trusted source that is your brand. It’s a simple way to cut through newsfeed noise and can boost CTR by 39%.

But even when you start using custom URLs, there can still be some bumps in the road. Online platforms and tools have various rules about how to share links. Some require the inclusion of HTTP text at the start – others don’t. Some may even update links to include the platform’s name instead of yours.

If you haven’t started using branded links yet, you can find out more about them here. For those of you who’ve already realized the importance of putting your brand on your links, check out our guidelines covering how to share links on various marketing platforms:

URLs on Twitter

You may not even realize it, but all URLs posted on Twitter are automagically shortened using its t.co service. This limits a link’s character count to 23 – even if they are actually much longer. This way, your links won’t have too much of an impact on the 280-character limit of your tweets.

Luckily for brand conscious marketers, within Twitter the original URL will appear. This practice by Twitter provides a safety check against known spamming sites, warning users before they take an action that could potentially be unsafe. Twitter’s metrics are also tied in with its t.co shortening service, which allows the platform to judge engagement rates on each tweet and link.

Though your link will appear normally in your tweets, don’t get too carried away. Twitter will truncate a link with ellipses (aka …) once it goes over 31 characters. This is definitely something to keep in mind if you’ve included a keyword in the URL slug and is another reason to keep your custom URL shortener’s domain name short.

how to share links - truncated how to share links twitter

There’s no need to include the http:// information at the beginning of tweeted links as the service assumes this part of the URL. The same rules apply to Twitter’s direct messages too.

Requires HTTP: No
Truncates links: Yes, after 32 characters
Editable after posting: No

Sharing links on Facebook

With Facebook and other sites, it’s important to ensure that your brand is shining through every interaction with your audience, including the links that you share. As long as your site has been properly coded, Facebook should automatically pull in previews of any URLs that you post. But to encourage click-throughs and foster trust, it’s a good idea to keep the link in the post too. Posting a link on Facebook doesn’t require the http:// bit so your brand name will stand out.

how to share links on facebook

Facebook is critical for many advertisers who use it to reach key audiences by telling a story through images, videos and external links. There are special tools built into Facebook’s Ads Manager which allow you to share your link with a URL other than directly where you’re pointing. Though you can also use an eye-pleasing branded link to lead prospects to an inner page of your website or a marketplace product posting.

Requires HTTP: No
Truncates links: Yes, in two places – 19 in the domain name, 32 in the slashtag
Editable after posting: Yes

LinkedIn Links

As a social platform that is almost entirely for the career-minded individual, it’s imperative to reinforce your brand on LinkedIn. Ensuring that your company name is in your URLs adds legitimacy to your profile.

There are different rules for sharing from your homepage, from partner sites or from a company page update, but you can find all the details on LinkedIn URL best practices here. Though the text limits for LinkedIn posts are quite large (1,300 characters), you need to keep your links brief.

Like Twitter, LinkedIn has its own automatic link shortener. But unlike Twitter, if it comes into play your followers will see something like this – https://lnkd.in/eYKfXFe – in place of your own lovely brand name.

When you post a link longer than 26 characters, it will be automatically shortened. It’s worth keeping this in mind when scheduling posts using automation tools like Buffer, as the change won’t appear until it’s published.

Sometimes, if no text comes after your link, LinkedIn may hide it altogether.

Requires HTTP: Yes
Truncates links: No, but it will auto-shorten
Editable after posting: Yes

Links on Instagram

Ah, Instagram. As much as we marketers would love to worship you, you really make it tough! Links within Instagram won’t be hyperlinked anywhere except for your profile bio.

That’s a serious limitation, but the good news is branded short links shine on Instagram. You can sneakily include links within your Instagram posts – or even on the images you share. They’re not incredibly user-friendly, but are easy to remember, type or copy-and-paste. One marketer that we spoke to recently says he sees 10 to 20 times more traffic from Instagram posts when he uses vanity URLs.

how to share links on instagram

This awkward link-sharing process is intended to maintain the platform’s simplicity. Though some users and businesses with more than 10,000 followers are now being given the opportunity to add links to their Instagram stories. But the rest of us marketers can make the most of things by driving website traffic with branded links.

Requires HTTP: N/A
Truncates links: N/A
Editable after posting: Yes

URLs for YouTube

YouTube developers have cracked down on external links added to videos in the past year or so, but the platform is friendly for marketers wishing to pop in an external link. However, some users still view links in the platform with a bit of distrust as the site has had issues with spam over the years.

Fortunately, you can still paste a link into your description, and YouTube links it right up for you with very few limitations. And you can use a branded link to demonstrate your trustworthiness and encourage click-throughs.

However, if you want to use externally-linking end cards in your videos, you must now be a member of the YouTube Partner Program.

YouTube also launched its own URL shortener in 2009 – YouTu.be – with the purpose of making it clear when a link led to the platform.

Requires HTTP: Yes
Truncates links: Above 40 characters (including the HTTP or HTTPS)
Editable after posting: Yes

Limited Link-Sharing on Pinterest

Like Instagram, Pinterest is all about the pictures and very little focus is put on URLs. You can pin a photo with or without associating a URL with it and this URL isn’t visible unless you decide to click-through to the destination.

Like with Instagram, you can include a branded link within the image you share or in the image description – though it won’t be hyperlinked. You can also include a clickable link to your website within your profile bio once you’ve gone through Pinterest’s verification process.

how to share links on pinterest

While not highly visible, using branded links on Pinterest can drive click-throughs from within pin descriptions. It will also provide metrics about how well your posts are doing. Pinterest’s analytics are only available to those who have verified a website, so this click data can be useful for those selling their wares on marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon.

Requires HTTP: No
Truncates links: N/A
Editable after posting: Yes

Gmail

Gmail automatically hyperlinks URLs as long as you include the HTTP bit at the start. Last year, the tech giant also announced it would automatically hyperlink phone numbers, email addresses and physical addresses.

When sharing links via email, it’s best to use a custom short link or a long URL. Generic short links are blacklisted by email servers from time to time and it could land your marketing newsletter in the spam folders of your audience.

Requires HTTP: Yes
Truncates links: Never – or so it would appear
Editable after posting: No

Apple Mail

Adding a URL to your Apple Mail is as easy as entering the URL into the body of the mail or your signature text. It automatically turns a URL into a clickable link, with or without the http:// added in. Though it’s a good idea to include it, as without the http, Apple Mail won’t recognize links ending in certain TLDs.

You can also drag a URL into your email text straight from Safari if you’re on your desktop.

Requires HTTP: No, but it’s a good idea to use it anyway
Truncates links: No
Editable after posting: No

 

On these marketing platforms, it’s a challenge to get URLs to look exactly as you’d like them without using a branded URL shortener. But it’s important to keep in mind that your links could end up truncated, re-shortened or even not hyperlinked. So keep your short links as short as possible (32 characters on Twitter or 26 characters on LinkedIn) and if in doubt include the HTTP or HTTPS part of your link at the start.

It’s particularly important to keep this in mind if you’re using social media tools to schedule a post across a number of channels. And if you’re using a scheduling tool with automatic link shortening built in, you’ll need to turn off this feature to avoid ending up with a post showcasing their brand name instead of yours.

You can check out our knowledge base to find out how to turn off the automatic link shortening in Buffer and Meet Edgar.

These tips and edits to your URLs are small, but can really make your marketing messages appear more professional and appealing. It is easy to optimize your links to make sure they are never broken or off-brand. If you have any other tips, let us know in the comments below.

Further Reading:

This Article is About:

  • How to share links online
  • How to share links on social media
  • Link optimization
  • URL optimization
  • Links on Instagram

Photo in main image by Eric Lucatero via Unsplash

Louisa McGrath
Louisa works on putting together creative and useful content for Rebrandly customers to read. Though she spends a lot of time reading and writing online, she still loves to buy the Sunday papers.