If you’ve ever received an email with a long link that breaks across several lines, so you’ve had to copy-and-paste the URL into your web browser, the benefits of a URL-shortening service will be immediately clear. Short URLs are a better fit wherever your messages are restricted in length — social networking sites, chat rooms, text to mobile phones — and they’re simply easier to remember.
There are many free URL-shortening services to choose from, and they all work pretty much the same way — redirecting your links through the domain name of the service. For the shortest short links, obviously, Is.gd is obviously hard to beat. Other popular choices include BudURL, Bit.ly, Snipurl, Cli.gs… and of course TinyURL, one of the first to launch and so widely used that “tiny url” has become shorthand for “truncated web address,” much as the Kleenex name is applied to any brand of facial tissues.
Some URL shorteners are more reliable and easier to use than others, with a variety of useful features — such as previews, bookmarklets, and, in some cases, the ability to track the clicks on your shortened links — but the main problem with all of them is that they may go bust as some have already done. If you used them for many months and they go bust then you are in big trouble as all your links will die.
We hope the choice here is an easy one. Providing your own short URLs that tell readers your brand is awaiting them after the click increases your visibility. Implementing a short URL service on your own site increases your web analytics value and guards your earned media against third-party failure. Social media is a deep and fast moving channel, so keep your head up.