Shortened URLs



  • We know that using shortened URLs here on ML is a no-no. And really most places.

    It is understood the security risk they entail.

    However, I was wondering how you felt about shortened links of, say, social media pages you are confident are legit, such as a company like Target.

    Also, for those of you involved in inbound marketing, do you track individual clicks from social media? And if so, do you do it with the use of links, shortened links, or other?


  • Service Provider

    I think it seems reasonable under the assumption that people use social media for business stuff, understand that there is a trust validation system, follow up on that, and care. It's a lot of ifs. Is it okay under that circumstance? Sure, seems reasonable. Are there people that really do all those things? Doesn't seem reasonable. What is the profile of a person that does this?



  • @scottalanmiller

    Well, in this particular example, the profile would be a person who follows a company on social media. Either for special (HEY!! Kid's shoes are BOGO!) or for content updates (read all about this great new SMBIT article).



  • Shortened URLs are just a redirect...


  • Service Provider

    @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @scottalanmiller

    Well, in this particular example, the profile would be a person who follows a company on social media. Either for special (HEY!! Kid's shoes are BOGO!) or for content updates (read all about this great new SMBIT article).

    Yeah, as a consumer, if I was following some company on social media for coupons and discounts, I would expect to encounter shortened URL and I would follow them assuming they were an internal shortener from the vendor and not a tinyurl or some public shortener.


  • Service Provider

    That said, most consumers would just click on anything put out by the person/company they are following.



  • @jaredbusch said in Shortened URLs:

    @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @scottalanmiller

    Well, in this particular example, the profile would be a person who follows a company on social media. Either for special (HEY!! Kid's shoes are BOGO!) or for content updates (read all about this great new SMBIT article).

    Yeah, as a consumer, if I was following some company on social media for coupons and discounts, I would expect to encounter shortened URL and I would follow them assuming they were an internal shortener from the vendor and not a tinyurl or some public shortener.

    Out of curiosity, why would you trust an internal shortener as opposed to a public one?

    Just wondering where the trust breakdown is.



  • @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @jaredbusch said in Shortened URLs:

    @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @scottalanmiller

    Well, in this particular example, the profile would be a person who follows a company on social media. Either for special (HEY!! Kid's shoes are BOGO!) or for content updates (read all about this great new SMBIT article).

    Yeah, as a consumer, if I was following some company on social media for coupons and discounts, I would expect to encounter shortened URL and I would follow them assuming they were an internal shortener from the vendor and not a tinyurl or some public shortener.

    Out of curiosity, why would you trust an internal shortener as opposed to a public one?

    Just wondering where the trust breakdown is.

    If it is internally done by a trusted company or entity, and it goes somewhere malicious or whatever, I feel like I have more recourse against that company because they have more to lose from the potentially bad PR that would come from using their internal shortened links for evil. Public shortener sites probably don't care if I bash them on social media, Target (or whomever) likely does care.



  • @rojoloco said in Shortened URLs:

    @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @jaredbusch said in Shortened URLs:

    @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @scottalanmiller

    Well, in this particular example, the profile would be a person who follows a company on social media. Either for special (HEY!! Kid's shoes are BOGO!) or for content updates (read all about this great new SMBIT article).

    Yeah, as a consumer, if I was following some company on social media for coupons and discounts, I would expect to encounter shortened URL and I would follow them assuming they were an internal shortener from the vendor and not a tinyurl or some public shortener.

    Out of curiosity, why would you trust an internal shortener as opposed to a public one?

    Just wondering where the trust breakdown is.

    If it is internally done by a trusted company or entity, and it goes somewhere malicious or whatever, I feel like I have more recourse against that company because they have more to lose from the potentially bad PR that would come from using their internal shortened links for evil. Public shortener sites probably don't care if I bash them on social media, Target (or whomever) likely does care.

    So you are saying you don't try, say, bit.ly not to have the link compromised?



  • @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @rojoloco said in Shortened URLs:

    @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @jaredbusch said in Shortened URLs:

    @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @scottalanmiller

    Well, in this particular example, the profile would be a person who follows a company on social media. Either for special (HEY!! Kid's shoes are BOGO!) or for content updates (read all about this great new SMBIT article).

    Yeah, as a consumer, if I was following some company on social media for coupons and discounts, I would expect to encounter shortened URL and I would follow them assuming they were an internal shortener from the vendor and not a tinyurl or some public shortener.

    Out of curiosity, why would you trust an internal shortener as opposed to a public one?

    Just wondering where the trust breakdown is.

    If it is internally done by a trusted company or entity, and it goes somewhere malicious or whatever, I feel like I have more recourse against that company because they have more to lose from the potentially bad PR that would come from using their internal shortened links for evil. Public shortener sites probably don't care if I bash them on social media, Target (or whomever) likely does care.

    So you are saying you don't try, say, bit.ly not to have the link compromised?

    I try to avoid them all, but as a hypothetical, like Jared was describing, a company I follow or trust sends a sale offer/coupon/etc, if it has a shortened link, I'm more likely to trust it. I, personally, will unshorten it first, but only bother doing that if it's from somewhere I feel like I can totally trust. I will never click them when used for marketing and promotional purposes; I still use caution when it's for a sale price or special offer that I would probably trust.



  • I don't trust ANY shortened URL, even if it is from social media company I follow. Nothing to prevent some account takeover/compromise from posting a bad link so in each and every case, I unshorten the URL. Even if it is a company I trust and the link destination looks suspicious (ie: to some domain that doesn't seem to be associated with the company in question), I won't click on it. I also try to train everyone I know to do the same. I'm sure most don't.



  • @nashbrydges said

    Nothing to prevent some account takeover/compromise from posting a bad link

    As @scottalanmiller usually mentions in regards to backups if someone has admin access, what's to prevent them from just hacking a legitimate link if they have that kind of compromised access?



  • @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @nashbrydges said

    Nothing to prevent some account takeover/compromise from posting a bad link

    As @scottalanmiller usually mentions in regards to backups if someone has admin access, what's to prevent them from just hacking a legitimate link if they have that kind of compromised access?

    Lol. That would be a valid argument for every potential admin takeover however, given that there is NO way for anyone to know this, I will do what I can to verify that links I am clicking are valid. You could argue these details to the Nth degree but at some point you simply can't validate whether something is legit if someone has, as you say, hacked a legitimate link.



  • @rojoloco said

    I try to avoid them all, but as a hypothetical, like Jared was describing, a company I follow or trust sends a sale offer/coupon/etc, if it has a shortened link, I'm more likely to trust it. I, personally, will unshorten it first, but only bother doing that if it's from somewhere I feel like I can totally trust. I will never click them when used for marketing and promotional purposes; I still use caution when it's for a sale price or special offer that I would probably trust.

    So people trying to gain marketing data on you have no shot!

    I am the same way, I usually take off the Google tracking stuff.

    For me personally, I am just trying to figure out the best way to track effectiveness of various social media outlets.



  • @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @rojoloco said

    I try to avoid them all, but as a hypothetical, like Jared was describing, a company I follow or trust sends a sale offer/coupon/etc, if it has a shortened link, I'm more likely to trust it. I, personally, will unshorten it first, but only bother doing that if it's from somewhere I feel like I can totally trust. I will never click them when used for marketing and promotional purposes; I still use caution when it's for a sale price or special offer that I would probably trust.

    So people trying to gain marketing data on you have no shot!

    I am the same way, I usually take off the Google tracking stuff.

    For me personally, I am just trying to figure out the best way to track effectiveness of various social media outlets.

    It's not that I am against marketing gaining some insight into what works and what doesn't. It's just that the risks are greater than I'm willing to commit to. I certainly appreciate they are just trying to do their job but I'm also trying to do mine.

    If I'm really wanting to track social media success, then I choose to NOT post shortened URLs.

    The other option is that, if you control the site, you could setup Piwik to track the source of your visits and even tag the links with specific marketing campaign codes to directly tie back to a specific campaign (assuming you have more than one campaign running on social media which could easily be true). That's the method I recommend to my clients who market via social media.



  • @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @rojoloco said

    I try to avoid them all, but as a hypothetical, like Jared was describing, a company I follow or trust sends a sale offer/coupon/etc, if it has a shortened link, I'm more likely to trust it. I, personally, will unshorten it first, but only bother doing that if it's from somewhere I feel like I can totally trust. I will never click them when used for marketing and promotional purposes; I still use caution when it's for a sale price or special offer that I would probably trust.

    So people trying to gain marketing data on you have no shot!

    I am the same way, I usually take off the Google tracking stuff.

    For me personally, I am just trying to figure out the best way to track effectiveness of various social media outlets.

    What do short links have to do with tracking? Is there something special through that?


  • Service Provider

    @dashrender said in Shortened URLs:

    @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @rojoloco said

    I try to avoid them all, but as a hypothetical, like Jared was describing, a company I follow or trust sends a sale offer/coupon/etc, if it has a shortened link, I'm more likely to trust it. I, personally, will unshorten it first, but only bother doing that if it's from somewhere I feel like I can totally trust. I will never click them when used for marketing and promotional purposes; I still use caution when it's for a sale price or special offer that I would probably trust.

    So people trying to gain marketing data on you have no shot!

    I am the same way, I usually take off the Google tracking stuff.

    For me personally, I am just trying to figure out the best way to track effectiveness of various social media outlets.

    What do short links have to do with tracking? Is there something special through that?

    Seriously?


  • Service Provider

    @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @rojoloco said

    I try to avoid them all, but as a hypothetical, like Jared was describing, a company I follow or trust sends a sale offer/coupon/etc, if it has a shortened link, I'm more likely to trust it. I, personally, will unshorten it first, but only bother doing that if it's from somewhere I feel like I can totally trust. I will never click them when used for marketing and promotional purposes; I still use caution when it's for a sale price or special offer that I would probably trust.

    So people trying to gain marketing data on you have no shot!

    Why do you need special links for that?


  • Service Provider

    @dashrender said in Shortened URLs:

    @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    @rojoloco said

    I try to avoid them all, but as a hypothetical, like Jared was describing, a company I follow or trust sends a sale offer/coupon/etc, if it has a shortened link, I'm more likely to trust it. I, personally, will unshorten it first, but only bother doing that if it's from somewhere I feel like I can totally trust. I will never click them when used for marketing and promotional purposes; I still use caution when it's for a sale price or special offer that I would probably trust.

    So people trying to gain marketing data on you have no shot!

    I am the same way, I usually take off the Google tracking stuff.

    For me personally, I am just trying to figure out the best way to track effectiveness of various social media outlets.

    What do short links have to do with tracking? Is there something special through that?

    They shorted all of the detailed tracking info. That's primarily why they are used, to let the person put loads and loads of information into the link but not make it obvious to you clicking on it what all they just conveyed about you.



  • @nashbrydges said in Shortened URLs:

    If I'm really wanting to track social media success, then I choose to NOT post shortened URLs.

    Exactly - there are other ways to know where you're coming from besides the use of shortened URLs. Heck, I'd argue that you'd use those ways even if Shortened URLs are/willing to give you that data. This can be completely controlled by you by providing that information in the long URL that the short one comes from.
    Just means more work on your side..

    and all of this is coming from someone who has no clue what he's talking about. ;)


  • Service Provider

    @dashrender said in Shortened URLs:

    Shortened URLs are/willing to give you that data.

    Seriously WTF?

    This is not how any of this works.


  • Service Provider

    You can get a lot of data, enough to be pretty effective, without a special link. What links can easily tell you is which ads or ad designs or other really detailed components are different.

    Example... I show four ads, all the same but each in a different colour. The link could tell which colour ad was the one that got results.



  • @jaredbusch said in Shortened URLs:

    @dashrender said in Shortened URLs:

    Shortened URLs are/willing to give you that data.

    Seriously WTF?

    This is not how any of this works.

    WTF are you talking about? The shortener certainly can track this data. Wither they do or not is another matter - that is all I was saying.



  • It's a double-edged sword. People want to see the links they're clicking, but brevity is key when it comes to marketing and having a link filled to the brim with UTM parameters kinda dampens the experience on certain platforms.

    Measuring the ROI of social is also a weird thing for marketers--when bringing numbers in front of management, it's nice to be like, "People clicked on this x amount of times from x platform"


  • Service Provider

    @dashrender said in Shortened URLs:

    @jaredbusch said in Shortened URLs:

    @dashrender said in Shortened URLs:

    Shortened URLs are/willing to give you that data.

    Seriously WTF?

    This is not how any of this works.

    WTF are you talking about? The shortener certainly can track this data. Wither they do or not is another matter - that is all I was saying.

    The shortened URL itself can because it is a URL, but that is not the point of the shortened URL. The shortened URL exists only to not clog feeds that no longer have these issues. is just to redirect you to the long URL will all the added meta data in the URL so that when the destination webserver gets the hit, they servers saves the info into the database to be extracted by their tracking applications to know what was hit.



  • @jaredbusch said in Shortened URLs:

    @dashrender said in Shortened URLs:

    @jaredbusch said in Shortened URLs:

    @dashrender said in Shortened URLs:

    Shortened URLs are/willing to give you that data.

    Seriously WTF?

    This is not how any of this works.

    WTF are you talking about? The shortener certainly can track this data. Wither they do or not is another matter - that is all I was saying.

    The shortened URL itself can because it is a URL, but that is not the point of the shortened URL. The shortened URL exists only to not clog feeds that no longer have these issues. is just to redirect you to the long URL will all the added meta data in the URL so that when the destination webserver gets the hit, they servers saves the info into the database to be extracted by their tracking applications to know what was hit.

    I'll agree with that, but it still doesn't invalidate anything I said.



  • We can debate the validity of short links, but the fact is that 99 out of 100 people dont care, and even some techs prefer it. It is kind of a pointless thing to debate, because there are alot more positives than negatives for the company.



  • @chrisl said in Shortened URLs:

    It's a double-edged sword. People want to see the links they're clicking, but brevity is key when it comes to marketing and having a link filled to the brim with UTM parameters kinda dampens the experience on certain platforms.

    Measuring the ROI of social is also a weird thing for marketers--when bringing numbers in front of management, it's nice to be like, "People clicked on this x amount of times from x platform"

    Right, that is kind of where I am at, wanting to prove that A works better than B from platform C.

    You can track where a click came from, but I'd like to have more detailed info.

    I have seen people do multiple links to the same content, which is another option, I guess.

    So, just kind of seeing what others are doing.

    I am assuming there is value in being able to present as much data as possible. And to direct where to funnel the most time/money. AKA, if you get 100 clicks and 95 are from LinkedIn, perhaps that's where you decicate your resources to.



  • @irj said in Shortened URLs:

    We can debate the validity of short links, but the fact is that 99 out of 100 people dont care, and even some techs prefer it. It is kind of a pointless thing to debate, because there are alot more positives than negatives for the company.

    This is basically what I told Bill before he started this thread. I won't click on them most of the time, but there are times when it's simply not an option (not a real other other than just moving beyond that company/product, etc).
    And as you said, most people will simply click on them anyhow!



  • @brrabill said in Shortened URLs:

    You can track where a click came from, but I'd like to have more detailed info.

    There are MANY ways to get this without using shortlinks


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