Tag Archives: friendfeed

How do you track leads from Twitter posts? The bit.ly URL shortening service is one way

The very sharp Sandy Carter asked a question today that had been playing in the back of my mind but being the weak marketer I am, I never really fully got my teeth into: if you put out a promotion on Twitter, how can you measure the effectiveness of that tweet?

Twitter, like every other web presence, should allow for easy measurement. So if your promo attracts 1,000 clickthroughs from your well-crafted tweet you should know about it. Right? Unfortunately those wonderfully effective URL shortening services that that help you keep your Tweets under 140 characters can get in the way.

For instance if the shortening service uses Javascript for the redirect, this can show odd referral data in your web logs. Another scenario is where you use the same link across different Twitter accounts (say, if you hit that magical pulse and find yourself heavily retweeted).

If you use any of the Twitter clients out there, you’ve probably noticed that many offer a host of shortening services. Each of these has its relative merits. So if you are in the position where you really want to know how many clicks emanate from your wonderfully crafted Tweets, some services work better than others.

I thought I’d ask my diminutive Twitterverse what they thought were the most ‘trackable’ URL shortening services. Richard Barley proved most helpful, pointing me in the direction of bit.ly.

A key advantage of this service is it doesn’t matter whether or not you create an account: you can still have access to the excellent stats, which start off like this:

bitlyThere are further stats on geography and which accounts have used the shortened URL and crucially you can see if there are other bit.ly codes for the long URL.

The advantage of creating an account is that you see all your links collected under one interface (great for comparison). If you sign up for a premium account you get even more features such as detailed referrer stats. Interested? Here’s a few examples of how the service works:

Twhirl and bit.ly

To use bit.ly with the Twhirl desktop client you need to setup a bit.ly account. Then go into the tools section and find the API key. Twhirl will ask you for this information when you try to shorten a URL. This is great because all the URLs you post using Twhirl will be listed in your bit.ly account.

Tweetdeck and bit.ly

Tweetdeck takes a different approach by not asking you to sign in (for the record, bit.ly is the default URL shortening service in Tweetdeck). This makes it easier to shorten URLs right off the bat without having to setup a 3rd party service. But then how do you track links? bit.ly has a nifty use for the ‘+’ sign. Append this symbol to any of the bit.ly URLs to receive stats on that link. Here’s an example:  http://bit.ly/45dHIx+.

Web browsing and bit.ly

You can incorporate bit.ly with any web browser. Once you set up an account, you can drag the boomarklet to your toolbar and use this to shorten the URL, with the option to post directly to Twitter.

There are other uses of the service and it integrates with other clients (and I’m sure the iPhone), so if you have more information, feel free to comment. Now let me drift into speculation on the power of bit.ly and what it means for the web.

Taking on Friendfeed

I’ve been a heavy user of Friendfeed for some time: it’s a great tool for taking content from anywhere (including Delicious links) , aggregating it, and posting it on to Twitter/Facebook (for the uninitiated, here’s an explanation of Friendfeed). However, Friendfeed has gone down the route of concentrating more on engaging discussion around the content and does not yet offer publishers decent stats on which links have attracted most clicks. Is this a potential Achilles heel? It’s making me reconsider recommending the service for business/marketing purposes.

Taking on Digg

Beware Digg, you mighty news aggregation service: there could well be a significant player in town. Gigaom recently reported that bit.ly has received $2 million in funding – interesting given the statistics bit.ly offer could turn it into a compelling Digg-like service. When people use bit.ly to shorten a link, they are indirectly voting for it (in much the same way Google treats a link from one site to another as a vote in the PageRank algorithm). If you pull all this information together, you have a great social bookmarking system. Those links that have created the most stir (eg. through retweeting on Twitter) will be ranked the highest. I haven’t seen in practice and there maybe some kinks to iron out (how do you categorize links?) but the idea is intriguing.

Taking on Google???

OK, so we’ve stated that these links become votes. You could also argue these links are more social than the ones that Google tracks by looking at website relationships. Bit.ly already has a search engine, but this could bloom into a major feature if the service becomes widely adopted. It’s been noted that Twitter is replacing Google for certain queries (I received better information for this article from Twitter than from Google), and as bit.ly is a link between Twitter and the wider web, the service is in a good position to show which web pages are most useful to people. Why doesn’t Google report on these links too? At the moment many of these services fall outside of Google’s domain given that the Javascript tracking they use can render links invisible to the major search engines. This goes for most URL shortening services: not just bit.ly (although some services are beginning to offer more Google-friendly links).

Will Twitter get into the fray?

As a final point there is much speculation floating around about how Twitter will moneytize its service. Offering premium services to corporate customers seems highly likely. Could one of these services be the kind of statistics that bit.ly dishes out, if Twitter gets into the URL shortening business?

I, for one, think the URL shortening space is looking increasingly interesting, and at this point bit.ly is well poised as a major player.

Scoble calls for companies to use Friendfeed

Robert Scoble, the celebrated ex-Microsoft blogger was recently interviewed by CIO Magazine.

For aggregating content, Scoble says he makes considerable use of Friendfeed.  He points out that although companies are beginning to embrace Twitter, there has been little involvement with FriendFeed.

Unless you are very large corporation (or have a very large brand), it can be difficult to build and maintain social networks and rely on your faithful customers to generate content for you. What these same customers may be more willing to do, is share relevant information they find with others in the community, as this involves less of that most precious resource: time. This is where Friendfeed comes in – the service makes it easy to share this information, and companies could set up rooms where users can post worthy information. Check out the FIR room for an example of how the For Immediate Release team are using Friendfeed to collect information on the social media space.

Just in case you are new to this service, check out this Friendfeed tutorial.

When social networks talk: Friendfeed now linking to Twitter

Friendfeed, the aggregating social network now has an interesting feature: if you use Twitter, you can automatically post your Friendfeed activity as Tweets.

Friendfeed is ideal for pulling together all your updates on Flickr, Del.icio.us, Flickr or other online social networks. Twitter is rapidly becoming the de facto service for letting the world know what you are up to and has a network far exceeding that of Friendfeed (just check out Google Trends). Tying these two services together provides a great opportunity to broadcast the updates you make to your social networking accounts.

It works something like this:

To set this up, go into your Friendfeed account settings and at the bottom of the page you will see the ‘Feed Publishing’ options. Select the “Post my FriendFeed entries on Twitter” option and enter your Twitter account details. That’s pretty much it.

I have to say that in some respects, this service could be seen as a necessary fight for survival for Friendfeed. Like the video wars of the early ‘Eighties, there is only really enough space for one player in the market (if you recall, VHS took the lead and effectively eradicated Betamax). As users we suffer fatigue, and really don’t want to be tied to too many competing services. Friendfeed does have some advantages over Twitter in terms of its aggregation possibilities and the recently-updated interface, but Twitter, and the micro-blogging revolution it is fueling is definitely stealing the limelight. In effect, Friendfeed could be construed as being another one of the API services available to Twitter.

In case you are new to either of these services, here’s some tutorials to help explain how they work:

Friendfeed explained

Twitter explained

Friendfeed stripping out duplicates

You may have seen this already, but Friendfeed has introduced an excellent feature in its latest revision: it will automatically strip out duplicates.

If, like me, you use services such as Mahalo to post content in various places (eg. Twitter, Del.icio.us) this feature can really help get rid of unwanted clutter.

Read more on the latest features in Friendfeed

BTW, if you don’t know what the hell Friendfeed is, but are interested in keeping all your online activity in one place, you can check out this presentation explaining Friendfeed.

Facebook, Feeds and Micro-Blogging

It seems like no online marketing seminar is complete nowadays without at least one session on social media. SES San Jose was no exception – social media optimization is definitely creating a buzz in the industry (as it has been for at least the last year).

Moderator:
Kevin Ryan, VP, Global Content Director, Search Engine Strategies & Search Engine Watch

Speakers:
Andy Beal, Consultant, Blogger & Author, Marketing Pilgrim LLC
David Snyder, Search Specialist, JRDunn.com
Neil Patel, Co-founder, ACS
Brian Morrissey, Digital Editor, AdWeek

Andy:

Twitter
Make sure you secure your company name – even if you aren’t going to use it.

Basic symbols:

  • @andybeal directs a message to that user (public)
  • d andybeal sends a direct message that is
  • #olympics are used for tagging tweets
  • favorites are used to bookmark tweets you want to revisit
  • delete: this is possible but beware, Tweets can get syndicated in different places so even though you may delete a Tweet, it isn’t necessarily gone

Be selective with who you follow. You’ll realize why after a while. With Twitter it is easy to receive a lot of noise from people or subjects you don’t care about. Some people you might want to follow:

  • Peers
  • Press
  • Influencers
  • Customers

Look out for interesting conversations. The medium really supports these when they happen. Don’t send Twitter spam – this is such a conversational medium, any attempts to use it solely for commercial gains looks transparently salesy and just doesn’t go down well.

If you want to get into someone else’s network, think to copy your message into their thread using @[username] at the beginning of the post.  Their network of followers will see you message.

Use services like Twitterfeed to cross-promote blog content on Twitter (everytime you blog, all those following you on Twitter are automatically notified).

Your Twitter reputation IS your reputation so don’t get pulled into negative conversations – in most cases you can just let them play themselves out.

Use search to find those with similar interests (who you can choose to follow).

Brian:

As a journalist, I use Twitter to develop sources and find out who is writing on certain issues. Comcast and Zappos are good examples of companies using Twitter to manage their reputation online.

Neil:

Facebook
Some Facebook stats:

  • 73% of people are white
  • 30% make over 100k
  • 43% didn’t go to college

David:

Friendfeed
The best way to describe this service is as RSS on steroids – brings all social network data to one place and allow you to interact with that data. The big problem with social media is that it is so diverse. If you post images on Flickr, post on Blogger or leave content in any of a number of places across the web, then bring all your activity into one place with Friendfeed.