Bit.ly has become the de facto standard for URL shortening and I couldn’t be happier. It’s got a great API, simple web interface and a dashboard that keeps track of my shortened links. What I truly love about bit.ly is that it allows me to see how many clicks each shortened link generates. Not just the ones I shorten but any link created by anyone else.
How it works
To peek at the traffic stats of any bit.ly link just add /info to the url after the bit.ly domain. Here’s an example: @Mashable recently sent a tweet with this link http://bit.ly/9vZ6j. To see the traffic it generated change the url to this http://bit.ly/info/9vZ6j. With that link you can see a minute by minute traffic chart over the last hour and a daily summary beyond that. An easier way to do the same thing would be to add a + to the end of the URL like so http://bit.ly/9vZ6j+. Bit.ly will then redirect you to the info page.
The power of big users
With this knowledge at hand I started tracking some big users to see how much traffic they are able to generate. Even though there are differences in the messages like time of day it was sent, content of message and other similar subtleties this still serves as a great tool to gauge just how powerful the big guys are.
On September 24th 2009 @Mashable sent 17 tweets to 1,517,184 followers. Over 2 days those tweets directly generated 62,740 clicks. That’s an amazing 4.13% click rate. Looking at the aggregate bit.ly links for that day (all generated short URLs to the same page) you can see 113,819 clicks were generated. WOW. What @Mashable is able to generate in one day is what most people struggle to generate all month, myself included.
1 hour screen shots
Below are some screen shots of I took of some big guys during the first hour their tweet was sent.
If you like keeping track of your clicks but don’t want your traffic exposed to the world I recommend using HootSuite.com which uses its Ow.ly shortner service. It’ll graph your traffic and keep it private. It also has many other great features like scheduling of tweets, controlling multiple accounts from one dashboard and allowing several people to tweet from the same account without giving out your password.