I’m becoming a Twitter power user and find it a pretty simple way to broadcast information about my upcoming product sales and related. Problem is, I’m also curious about what information can be gleaned from the shortened URLs I have to use, including ideally some Google Analytics-like geographic data. Is that even possible?
Well, before we get into how you can track stats and gain analytic data from your shortened URLS – which is quite possible – I’d like to talk briefly about your view of Twitter as a broadcast channel. I fear that your perspective has become a common one and to me it’s one of the reasons that Twitter has become quite a bit less interactive and less interesting than it was even just a year ago.
If you talk with Ev and Biz, the founders of Twitter, you’d find that their vision was to start with a simple “what’s going on?” update service and turn it into a highly fluid interactive discussion system that would encourage a back-and-forth between users. A dialog.
Indeed, the heart of the new era of social media tools is based on how companies and service professionals can create and sustain a dialog with their customers and market segment. It’s not simply a bunch of new avenues for one-way broadcast of your marketing message or customer service solutions.
I know, I’m picking on you to some extent, but when I see “Twitter” and “broadcast” in the same sentence, it raises some warning flags with me and I’ll tell you that from my own experience, asking the JFK-esque question of “what can I bring to my community?” goes a lot further towards you establishing a solid reputation than the more common question of “how can I get you suckers to buy?”
Now, in terms of tracking shortened URLs, one of the premiere URL shortening tools (which is needed if you’re adding links to Tweets which are constrained to a max of 140 characters) is bit.ly. If you only ever use a Twitter client like Tweetdeck or Seesmic Desktop, you won’t know that bit.ly actually has all of the analytics you seek already incorporated into its system.
You just can’t get to it unless you go directly to their site and sign up for an account, then associate your shortened URLs with that account by using their Web page to shorten them, not just the handy Twitter client apps. Go to http://www.bit.ly/ to get started and click on “Sign Up”:
Now when you create a shortened link, you’ll find that in addition to the shortened version of the form http://bit.ly/2LhZI that there’s also a second “data tracking” link for you to check the real-time click-thru stats of the link that’s the same URL with a “+” appended.
First, check that you’re logged in on the top right:
Then enter the long link as usual:
When you shorten it, notice on the right:
When you click on the tracking URL, you’ll find that you can track number of clicks, referrers, and even what you seek, the locations of the people who are clicking on your link. When I tested it out myself, the 41 people who clicked on my tweet came from all over the world, including 29 from the USA, 6 from the United Kingdom, and one each from Canada, Ireland and Israel.
Here’s my location traffic information:
… and by clicks:
What’s nice is that the people receiving your shortened URLs (which work just as well in blog posts, email newsletters, and so on) have no idea that the data is being tracked, so it’s definitely behind-the-scenes.
Hope that helps you out. Now remember, “dialog, not monologue”.