Social networks offer great promotion opportunities for online marketers. Communities on Facebook, Twitter and even legacy networks such as MySpace offer access to millions of people, who have often conveniently arranged themselves into targetable interest groups.

The trouble comes when you want to track any sort of metrics, analytics or ROI for social media marketing activity. Because you don’t have access to the backend traffic data for these sites, you can’t get a good idea of how much visibility your content gets.

One way to begin to crack into the numbers of social media marketing is through the use of the free URL shortener, http://bit.ly which not only shortens long URLs making them more effective for use on sites such as Twitter but also provides useful analytics and click data for every link shortened. Click data is an important way to see how effective your social media promotions are – more clicks means more visibility and obviously more traffic to the destination site. Here are some tips for making the most of bit.ly and gaining insights from the click data it provides.

Step 1

Register for a bit.ly account. While you can access all of the features for free and without registering, if you have an account all of your bit.ly links – and their click data – are saved in one place so it’s easy to go back through old campaigns.

Step 2

Look for outlier data in bit.ly tracking. Did someone click from Facebook but you only posted the link on Twitter? Did you receive a number of clicks hours after you originally posted the link? Although it might be exciting to look at where the majority of the link clicks occur, you can often gain more ideas for further promoting your links if you look at the outlier data.

Step 3

Customise bit.ly URLs for popular or feature pages. While a generic bit.ly like, which contains random letters and number, is fine to promote a one-off blog post, use a custom and memorable link, something like bit.ly/myimportantcontent. You can create custom URLs through the main bit.ly interface and by ensuring your important pages have memorable and descriptive names, not only will you remember to use them again but readers will remember them as well.

Step 4

Experiment with promotion times. One of the most useful parts of bit.ly’s click tracking is the timeline. Use this timeline to help you determine the most effective time to promote your content. While most people recommend late afternoons towards the end of the work week, your industry or time zone may be different.

Step 5

Did you know you can see the tracking and click data for any bit.ly link, even if it isn’t yours? This is great for checking stats on pages your fans shortened in bit.ly themselves or even doing some sneaky competitor research. To see bit.ly link data for any link, simply add + to the end of the URL in your browser (so a sample URL might look like bit.ly/gh2Cj26+)

While click data from bit.ly looks at just one part of social media marketing analytics, tools like evvnt, an online marketing software for the entertainment industry, can provide much more in-depth analysis of social media activity. Social media is an important communication channel – make sure you’re able to measure just how effective it is for you.

Tips for event marketing success:

  • Although social media marketing is an important channel, it’s less useful if you don’t understand the numbers behind it.
  • Use Bit.ly to get a look at the click through rate and numbers behind your social media marketing campaigns
  • Take advantage of Bit.ly features to keep track of past campaigns, experiment with promotion times or even check out the competition’s click through rates.

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