There are many services out there now that will shorten a URL for you, so some hideous mess like this one from EPA’s news releases database:
turns into something much easier to use, typically in email:
But microblogging sites like Twitter give you only 140 characters per post (not words!), so you absolutely must shorten your URLs. Twitter does seem to automatically shorten URLs, but the real power comes when you set up a free Tweetburner account (note: Tweetburner isn’t associated with Twitter, so it’s a separate account):
- It tracks all of the short URLs you create, telling you where they go and when you created them, and shows you the Twitter post where you used them
- For each URL, you get total click count and a graph of clicks over time (not surprisingly, most clicks come immediately)
- You get nice graphs of your most popular and most recent clicks
- There’s a button you can add to your toolbar to let you create short URLs and post to Twitter or friendfeed without ever leaving the page you’re on. You do have to give tweetburner your ID and pwd each time, but if you never use this feature, they never know either one.
Here are my stats and graphs (click the tiny icon next to each one) as an example. Since tweetburner is its own thing, they’re keeping the stats, not Twitter.
What do you use? Why?
P.S. That long URL above took me 5 minutes to link because the GovLoop site kept trying to cut it off and end the link text with “…” I had to split it into 3 links to get the whole mess to show up!