How to use ‘Bitly’ to track your social media links and create better content

How to use bitly

How to use bitlyThere are a plethora of tools you can use to track user behaviour on your website, but what about Social Media? Bitly’s a superbly simple and free tool you can use to get more information on what’s working… and what isn’t

You’ve probably come across url shortener’s before. They offer a neater, more economical way to post links on Social Media.

So instead of using the soul destroyingly long url like this one…


You can use a url shortener to make the same link…


Try clicking on them, they both take you to the same place.

What’s the point in shortening links?

Well if you use Twitter, you’ll know that the number of characters you use in a tweet is limited to 140 characters, so the length of any links you post is actually very important.

It’s far better to use up your 140 characters on words that engage with the reader, than waste them on a long, boring website address. Same goes with Facebook. While there are no character limits on Facebook, you don’t want half your post or update to be dominated by a website address.

And that’s just the one aspect of this. There’s another, VERY important feature url shorteners can offer and this is why I recommend using this clever little tool.

With Bitly you can shorten your urls and track any activity that takes place within that link. This gives you a powerful insight into which of your posts and tweets are popular.

How to use Bitly to shorten your social media links, track their activity and find out what’s really working so that you can create better content

Let me take you through the process step-by-step:

1) Click here to go to Bitly
2) Login using either your Facebook or Twitter account (if you have neither you can sign up manually using your email address)
3) Copy and paste the link you want to shorten and track (for example: into the bar at the top of the page and press enter or click on the pufferfish. You can see this bar arrowed in the following screenshot:

Step 3: Paste your original url in the box

4) Now copy your new Bitly link

Here’s how to do this. After step 3. the following screen should pop up:

Step 4: Click 'Copy Bitlink'
Step 4: Click ‘Copy Bitlink’

Ignore all the text. To copy your link, simply click the button arrowed called: “Copy Bitlink”.

In case you’re wondering, with the ‘customise’ feature you can add your own ending. So instead of the link: you could change it to something like: It’s totally up to you if you want to do this. Because Bitly is a popular service, most of the useful endings have already gone, which is why I don’t tend to bother. In my experience people don’t really care too much what the links look like (they just click on it) and you can waste a lot of time trying to find one that’s free.

5) Click paste in Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere and the special Bitly link you’ve just created will appear.

That’s it!

6) Now wait and see how your link performs in Bitly

To track how many clicks you’ve had, log back into Bitly a few hours or days later (depending on how much traffic you expect to get) and locate the link you set up.

To do this click on the ‘view stats’ link next to the link you tracked. It’s a ludicrously small button, so I’ve stuck a great big arrow next to it in the screenshot below:

Step 6: Click 'View stats'
Step 6: Click ‘View stats’

Here’s where the fun starts, because you’ll now get a detailed breakdown of how many people have interacted with your link. To give you an example, a few week’s ago Sophie put a link to an Insider’s Edge article on our Twitter account. Instead of using the normal link, she used the Bitly link.

Here’s a screenshot of the stats related to this link. Bear in mind she only posted this on Twitter (not the website or the email newsletter) hence the low numbers, but it gives you an idea of how it works:

Get a detailed breakdown of link traffic

In addition to showing the number of clicks and timings, you also get a geographical breakdown:

Find out where your visitors are coming from
Find out where your visitors are coming from

As you can see, most of the clickers where from the UK, but nearly half were from elsewhere in Europe, with the Dutch claiming second prize. The numbers are too small to make any grand observations, but what it does indicate is that my Twitter followers are a little more diverse than I first thought.

The trick is to then compare the different links in your Bitly. That way you’ll start to see which links are attracting the largest audience and which times of day you tend to get the most activity.

Armed with this data you can start planning and creating content based on what your readers are most interested in. You’ll be able to pinpoint the best times to send out tweets and updates so that they get clicked on and shared. It also tells you how good the tweets themselves are; whether you’ve used the 140 character word limit effectively and used the right hash tags so that people can find them.

This is a seriously useful little tool this and one that’s definitely work tapping into if you’re looking to create a thriving social media presence for your business or hobby.

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