In just a few clicks, you can have a custom URL shortener that's tailored to your brand.
Anyone who has ever participated in a social media campaign knows how important it is to promote links on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. But if brand awareness is part of your social media strategy, a custom URL shortener is one more tool to help spread the word.
Custom URL shorteners can be a great branding tool for companies who want to establish their own web presence outside of Twitter or Facebook, where links are often hard to come by. In fact, some companies have gone so far as to give their shortened links a logo and an accompanying domain name. That's exactly what Linds Redding did for her company, Red Chalk Group , a social media marketing firm in Australia that specializes in search engine optimization and social media engagement campaigns.
"We wanted a custom [URL] shortener because we recognized it as an opportunity," she says. "Building good brand awareness was one reason why we needed our own domain name, which gave us control over not only the content but the look and feel of our brand."
Red Chalk's custom link shortener, redchalk.us was built using Google's goo.gl URL shortener service .
"We thought having a shorter version of our company name would make it easier for people to remember exactly where they need to go when they want to visit us," says Redding. "Having branding with our company name made sense for us."
The site also includes images that are prominently displayed in the center of the screen whenever someone accesses one of Red Chalk Group's links, which Redding says is meant to remind users where they've just landed after clicking on one of their links. The result?
"People should see our shortened links and remember who we are and why they went there," she says. "It's a reminder to everyone what we do and the kind of services we provide."
While Red Chalk Group has just started using its shortened links for advertising purposes, it already has one clear takeaway: People like to see their company names in front of them at all times when they're online.
"Our customers expect that from us," she says. "Anything we can do to make it easier for our clients is something that goes a long way."
Red Chalk Group isn't alone in putting this theory into action. A handful of social media marketing firms have followed suit by using custom URL shorteners, including New Jersey-based ShopIgniter , which was co-founded by Mark Kennedy, who is credited for coming up with the company's shortened link tool.
"We wanted a URL shortener that reflected our brand," he says. "It also helps us manage links better."
Like Red Chalk Group, ShopIgniter's shortened links are accompanied by icons that resemble some of its products and services to make them easier to understand. For example, some of the site's custom URLs point users directly to a shopping cart icon or a search engine icon .
"For a long time," says Kennedy, "we used bit.ly for our link shortening needs because it was free and easy to use. But we knew we needed something more personal than that."
ShopIgniter uses Tiny URL to create custom shortened links and the company has since added a few of its own tweaks. "We were using Tiny URL's interface, but they recently changed it to something that looks completely different," says Kennedy. "We didn't like those changes because we're used to the old one."
Instead of updating ShopIgniter's customized URLs with the new look from TinyURL, Kennedy decided he'd rather develop his own custom tool that wouldn't require any updates .
"I started building my own system where I could work on these things without having to update anything," he says. "It wasn't something I set out to do initially, but now I'm happy where it is and how easy it is for others to use."
With this project, Kennedy found himself working with the Google Custom Search API (application programming interface) to develop his program.
Kennedy's new system allowed ShopIgniter employees to easily turn their original bit.ly links into custom ones without having to learn different protocols for each service they used. It also let them swap out the words on their site whenever they wanted .
"If we have too many characters left over in our tweet," says Kennedy, "we can go into the back end of our Web site and update that message with a new bit.ly link, which is a wonderful feature. And we don't have to worry about a third-party site going away."
New Jersey-based marketing agency Catalyst also uses custom URLs on its social media channels and web site to more effectively promote the services it provides clients .
While social media is an important component of Catalyst's work for clients, this company has found that using shortened links (rather than long URLs) on Twitter and Facebook makes it easier for people to find their way back to its Web site while reading updates from the agency on these networks. "People want us to keep them abreast of what we're doing," says Mike Schinkel, partner at Catalyst , "but they need to be able to get the information into their own hands.
"We want to make it as easy as possible for people to find us," he says, "and using a custom URL shortener is one more tool that helps spread the word."
For Catalyst, this is particularly important when talking about things like collaboration , an area in which Schinkel believes his team excels.
"People will say they don't have anything interesting to write about or share with their followers," continued Schinkel, "but if you're truly collaborating with someone on something new and exciting, there are always stories supporting that effort."
This approach has worked well for Catalyst's clients .
"Once they see the benefits of what we do with social
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