It’s no secret that I’m a newbie when it comes to Twitter. As I became more comfortable with the service, I decided I wanted to use a URL shortener for my links when I’m posting so I’d have room to spare within the 140 character limit. Now after a few months, I’ve come to the conclusion that short “masked” links are not for me.
I was excited when I found Bit.Ly and it offered tracking reports for all of the links you shorten using their service however as weeks went on my click through rates started to dwindle down and I wasn’t sure why until I received a few messages and mentions myself which included them.
Because I didn’t personally know the Twitter user and their URL was now masked behind one of the URL shortener services (Bit.ly, Ow.ly, Deck.ly, Fur.ly, TinyURL.com) there was no way in h-e-double hockey sticks that I was going to click on the link to find out what was on the other end which made a little light bulb (yes, an itty bitty one) go off in my head. No wonder no one is clicking on the links…. These people don’t know me personally and without being able to preview the URL why would I click on it? It could lead to a nuisance web site, a computer virus or a phishing scheme.
Over the course of the past few weeks, I reverted back to using my original URL’s and low and behold my click through rates went back to normal. I’m assuming a lot of my personal traffic is generated from posts that include hash tags so people who are not following me are more likely to click on them.
Now rather than telling you “Don’t Use It”, I’ll leave that up to you. I personally feel you are better off posting the actual link so the URL is visible however if shortened URL’s are working for you, have at it as long as you know you’re not losing out of clicks.