UPDATE: January 2017 – I’ve started using URL shortener and analytics tool Rebrandly. Read my review here.
The post below is from April 2013.
As someone who has been using a customised URL shortener for around 4 years, I take a keen interest in brands and bloggers that set up their own short domain for sharing content on social media sites. In fact you probably arrived at this post by clicking on the link lc.tl/virgin from my tweet, or a variant of this from another platform.
In 2012, I looked at how the two US Presidential candidates were using their own branded URL shorteners – OFA.BO for the Obama team and mi.tt for Romney’s team. Not surprising, only Obama’s domain and shortener is still active.
Some brands use the bit.ly pro service – one such example is the BBC who run their shortener at bbc.in
You can easily tell this by looking at any of their short URLS such as bbc.in/177uAeA and adding a + at the end. Clicking on bbc.in/177uAeA+ takes you to the statistics for that link – and it clearly shows it is hosted by bit.ly.
I started using bit.ly with my original shortening service, but wanted to have full control over my links, having seen some of the early shorteners such as tr.im (which I used many years ago), be shut down only to be resurrected later on.
My view is the only way to completely control your own brand and branded shorteners is to run your own.
Whenever I see a new short URL service appear via tweets on Twitter, I always have a quick look to see what service they are using.
A few weeks ago, I came across the Virgin Group using virg.in on Twitter, and looked further to see what service was powering it.
Thinking simply and clearly is hard to do http://t.co/9evxvwWcI0
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) March 28, 2013
Clicking on virg.in drove me straight a holding page – which shows some stats on the trending links, as well as stats on the number of links shortened, and the total number of clicks to date.
To my amazement, on the bottom right of this page, a simple notice states “powered by YOURLS“.
This is a smart move from Virgin, using a powerful, open source platform which gives them greater freedom and flexibility
I am sure that Ozh Richard (@Ozh) who has been responsible for making YOURLS the success it is would be very pleased that such a major brand as Virgin has decided to adopt his platform as a key part of their online presence.
If you want to read the reasons behind why I chose to set up my own URL shortener, and why brands should so this as well, head over to my 2-part post at lc.tl/url – naturally shortened by my own branded shortener.