URL shorteners are used to shrink web links to a smaller size. If you scan your Twitter or Facebook feed you’ll probably see a number of ShortLinks like Twitter’s t.co, Hootsuite’s owl.ly and bit.ly. Twitter’s 140 character limit makes it necessary to use a link shortener. There are a lot of free services for shortening links. You may have also noticed brands and companies using custom ShortLinks.
Below is a sample of my branded short URL.
Why Custom Branded ShortLinks?
Custom ShortLinks are a great way to brand a URL with specific types of content that you share and that reflects your brand personality. When you see a short url like Instagr.am, you know you will see an image when you click on that link because you are familiar with it.
Having a custom short URL with your branding can build the same type of trust, personality consistency and familiarity with your brand. The custom link can help build a brand following and help you become known specific topic or niche. It also stands out a little more than the Bit.ly and t.co URL’s that everyone uses.
Examples of short URLS
- Instagr.am (Instagram)
- nyti.ms (New Your Times)
- gonike.me (NIke)
- a.did.as (Addidas)
- youtu.be (YouTube)
- freep.pl (Free People)
- anthrpl.ge (Anthropologie)
- toms.sh (Toms Shoes)
My personal short URL is nardi.im and for Hi-Fi Social it’s hifiso.co
Bit.ly makes it easy to create a custom short url
To use a custom url, you need setup a custom short domain and a service to create the short links. Bit.ly now let’s you use a custom short url with a free account which is very easy to setup. There are other shortening services that let you setup a custom short url, but some are expensive and only work with their own apps. Bitly is a good choice because it works with a lot of services, like Buffer App and WordPress.
Go to Bit.ly and sign up for a free account
You can create an account by signing in with your Twitter or Facebook account, or setup an account with an email address. After you do this, we’ll come back to Bitly after the next couple of steps.
Next you’ll need to find and buy a custom domain to use
A great service for checking to see which names are available and trying different name possibilities is Domainr. Just type your name or words, and it will show you different ideas with a variety of domain types and whether or not that name is available. See the example below.
Try to find a custom domain name that has your name or brand in it. Make it memorable and short. International domains are nice for creating words ending in .it, .me, .co, .ly, .im, .is. You can use a domain suffix as part of your name like Intagr.am. If your name is long, try dropping vowels or letters, or using initials.
Once you’ve decided on a name, you’ll need to purchase it. Domainr will display suggestions for places to purchase the name. I purchased mine at I Want My Name because the signup process was easy and they had a bitly app that made it easy to set up. You can buy your name anywhere, however for this tutorial I’ll use I Want My Name.
Once you’ve purchased a name, go back to your bitly account.
Add your domain to Bitly
In Bitly, go to settings from the account menu on the top right. Under settings select “Advanced.” Select the Add a custom short domain option.
Type in your custom domain name then add. You’ll be taken to a verify screen. Don’t verify yet.
Go back to your account dashboard at I Want My Name
Go to Apps & Services and select the Bitly app and add it.
The service will do all the configuration for you. It takes a minute, then you’ll see a screen letting you know the domain has been successfully added. The video gives you a 50 second overview of how to do this.
Next, go back to Bitly and click Verify.
Once you select verify it can take up to 24 hours for the change to show. You’ll know it’s working when your custom short name is displayed in the Short Domain drop down menu. (see below)
You can create your custom short urls using the Bitly tools, or with other services like Buffer App, that work with Bit.ly. I use Hootsuite as well, but instead of the owl.y link shortener I use my custom short urls. You can also track stats for the links in your Bit.ly account dashboard.
If you are using a custom URL, make sure to use it for links to your content, name, brand, photos or blog posts. You want to keep that content attached your custom url consistent with the brand attached to it. A custom url night not always appropriate for every tweet or Facebook post.