Essential Tips for using Bitly the URL shortener

In today’s fast-paced world of short attention spans and character limits, the ability to turn long, ugly urls into short, easy to remember urls is a huge gift.

One of the most popular tools available for doing that today is Bitly. Not only do URL shorteners like Bitly give you more room to compose your message where characters are limited (like the 140 limit on Twitter), but it also comes with some neat features built in, like stats, and bundles.

You’ll make sharing your content a lot easier for your users, and have a bird’s eye view of how much it is being shared. Besides, who doesn’t love the adorable Chauncey McPufferson? Here’s how to get started.

Using Bitly to shorten URLs

1. Sign up for a free Bitly account.
Even though you can use Bitly without registering an account, you’ll need a login to access all your metrics in one place easily.

2. Copy the URL of the article you wish to share, and paste it into the field at the top right corner where it says “paste a link here…”

Bitly paste a link here

3. Bitly automatically generates a nice short url that begins with “bit.ly/”.

4. Customize your new Bitly link (or Bitmark) so it’s easy to remember. Just click on the little pencil icon. When you’ve entered the customized name, hit the “return” key on your keyboard.

Customize Bitly Links

5. Choose to add a note to your Bitmark for easy reference, and/or organize your Bitmarks into groups using Bundles. You can even easily share your Bitly link via social media and email.

Bitly bundle and note

Bitly Bundles – Ways To Use Them

  • Group various posts about your event that takes place annually, so your users can easily access information from previous years.
  • Create a playlist of your organization’s YouTube videos that are linked to a related topic, like “meet our clients”, or “learn about our services”.
  • Give your supporters an easy list of must-read articles about the social issue your organization is working to address.
  • Make choosing in-kind donations easier for your supporters by providing a Bitly bundle wishlist, with links to each item your organization needs.

Seeing your Bitly Stats

Scroll to the Bitmark you want to analyze and click on “View Stats”. Alternatively, you can also access stats for your Bitmark by adding a “+” to the end of your Bitmark url. For example, if my Bitmark is at “bit.ly/NBinfoblog”, I can access the stats for that Bitmark by visiting “bit.ly/NBinfoblog+”.

View Stats on Bitly

Bitly stats will let you see when your Bitmarks were clicked, how many times, through what platforms, and where the people who clicked are geographically located in the world.

Bitly stats

Bitly Media Map

This feature is currently still a Bitly Labs Experiment, but it’s so cool, it’s worth a mention. Here’s a fine example of turning data into useful visual information. With data collected from all the Bitmarks created, Bitly is able to show you a beautiful map of the most popular publications in each state.

The example below tells me that folks in Illinois love reading Gawker. It also tells you at a glance that out of all online-only media platforms, majority of people in the country create Bitmarks to the Huffington Post.

Bitly Labs Media Map

Neat huh? Definitely useful when deciding which media outlets on your press/publicity list to target first.

What do you think?

Hope you found this guide to using Bitly useful! Give it a go and let me know what you think. Prefer a different url shortening service? I’d love to hear why. Let’s chat in the comments section below.

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