This is post 3 of 10 in my 10 favorite tools series. I regularly get asked how I “do it all” so I’ve put together some of handy tools that (in addition to hard work) help me do it. I covered how I use Google tools and my tools & strategy for Twitter last week.
This week its bit.ly, yes a URL shortner, but it does so much more! This is my favorite sharing tool for Twitter, it allows you to shorten and share links right from your browser. Any time I’m reading and article or a blog post or see something I think might be of interest I can hit the bookmarklet, and it automatically grabs the title and creates a short link. It will allow you to modify the title or add text before sending.
You can use bit.ly by installing the extension for your browser, there are extensions for most of the popular browsers. The extension will give you some enhancements to Twitter when you’re using Twitter on the web such as showing the number of clicks on bit.ly links.
Or you can just use the bookmarklet in any browser. I actually prefer the bookmarklet to the extensions. Both the bookmarklet and the extension will prompt you to create an account. When you set up your bit.ly account you’ll authorize it to your Twitter account. That is what allows it to share links directly to Twitter without you having to copy and paste. An account gives you access to some additional information.
The bookmarklet will tell you how many clicks there have been on all bit.ly links to the page you’re about to share and, if you’ve shared it before, how many clicks were made on your link.
Having an account gives you an API that you can use to set up Bit.ly as your automatic shortner in say Tweetdeck. Again using this gives you access to more stats.
Personally I’m not that interested in how many there were on clicks each link I’ve shared. But when I was tweeting for a library it was very useful. We could visit the site and see which links were getting the most clicks. We just created a separate account for the library and used it to create and share library links, I used Safari for all my library accounts so as not to get accounts and log-ins confused.
I recently got an iPad and was frustrated to find I couldn’t share links in the safari browser, so I did some searching and found these instructions for adding all sorts of bookmarklets on the iPad before I discovered that if you visit bit.ly on the iPad and click on the “settings” button in the top right corner you’ll get the instructions and code for creating the bookmarket.
Stay tuned for Tips & Tricks Three!