Ow.ly is a shortening tool that can be used for websites. It is best known as the shortened URL service within HootSuite so all your information is in one place.
It was created to work with short social media posts, particularly on Twitter where you are restricted to 140 characters (for tweets). This means it also has other advantages like tracking URLs and measuring data about how your links are performing. You can use Ow.ly right inside the HootSuite Dashboard for added convenience.
The free version of HootSuite allows you to get Ow.ly for free because using an account with them makes it more secure than if everyone were able to use it.
There are three basic types of Ow.ly links:
- Standard links that go to a specific website, such as
- Links with custom short names, such as (for Hootsuite)
- Custom URLs and custom short names, such as (which creates a link to "The New York Times")
Ow.ly offers standard social media analytics like the number of times your link was clicked and tweeted about. There is also an advanced tracking option which provides you with more information like who retweeted it and what keywords were garnering attention during this process. You can also get basic statistical data like impressions, link clicks, shares and retweets.
Ow.ly also allows you to see how many people are reporting that their links are broken or have been flagged as spam which is very important for your credibility. If there are a lot of broken links then it might be good to find another service provider to use if Ow.ly isn't working out for your needs.
There may also be times when you need to use more than one short URL service because each has different features which can make them useful at different times.
Per the OWLY FAQ page at , they collect "personal information" about users only "when provided by you." They state elsewhere on this page that they "will not sell or distribute your personal information to third parties without your permission."
They also share personal information with companies who provide their own privacy policies which are said to be just as good as the OWLY policy. Moreover, they may release personal information when they "have a good faith belief that it is required by law or legal process" or if the provider of this information "has expressly agreed to such disclosure."
Per their FAQ page, no third parties are allowed to track browser history.
Accordingly, OWLY's policies appear consistent with industry standards and I cannot find anything significant to be concerned about.
I hope this article has helped you to determine whether or not OWLY may be useful for your social media needs. Please do not hesitate to leave any questions/comments/concerns below in the comment section (or email me at . Thanks! :)
- Clark Boyd / Social Media Today / February 13, 2013
Ow.ly is a tool for creating shortened URLs that can be used effectively with social media sites like Twitter. It was designed to take advantage of the 140 character limit on tweets which means you can maximize your space while remaining concise and easy to read. This service has become well-known among individuals who use Hootsuite because it works so well with this platform although there are other uses as well. OWLY offers three main features: standard links, custom short names, and custom URLs. To experience these services first hand, go to. Just remember that you will need an account with them in order to create shortened links (although anyone can use their standard URL creation). If this isn't the case, then see the third paragraph on this page.
Standard links: This is where you can shorten URLs that are already shortened and/or long URLs (which, of course, count against your character limit). Using this service with Hootsuite will cut down on link clutter in your post and give people a more succinct idea about what they'll find when clicking through to the site. You can also attach analytics to any of these links so you can measure data like how many times it was viewed and clicked on. Custom short names: Short names for links used to be reserved mainly for businesses and other organizations who wanted their own personalized address but now individuals can use them as well. They look just like normal links except that they begin with something unique like your own name (or other designator like the name of a business) and have an extra word attached. When you use this to link to something, it appears as a regular URL but provides the added benefit of being able to quickly create a profile without having to go through a signup process. Custom URLs: This option is particularly useful for shortening long URLs so that they fit within Twitter's character limit while still providing enough information about what people will find when clicking on them. It works by creating a custom address from your chosen domain that leads back to existing pages or directly to new ones you create just for that site. In addition, Ow.ly has integrated with Hootsuite which makes it easier for social media managers to publish ow.ly links by putting them in Hootsuite's dashboard or in social media updates. This means you don't have to log out of your ow.ly account in order to publish content with it which can be helpful when trying to meet deadlines like for posting an event that will occur soon (like one on the upcoming Ow.ly Social Brands Conference ) or when there is short notice about something important happening on Twitter (like an emergency weather warning ).
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