Keeping track of good stuff

Tracking your tweets is one new online metric only a few publishers are paying attention to. This is a shame as it is particularly simple and could prove to be a notable traffic referrer.

The initial tracking complexity stems from Twitter only permitting 140 characters per tweet. If you have a deeplink story that you wish to tell the world about, the URL is likely to contain many characters so you’ll need to find a URL shortener that cuts down the character length.

TinyURL is one of the old players in this market but my current favourite is bit.ly. I like bit.ly for its simple browser installation (which makes the URL shortening a one click action) and more importantly, it provides me with data on who clicked on my tweeted links. This wee snippet of information is gold.

For larger content publishers, it could have a real impact on what we see on their homepages. For newspaper sites, like Stuff or NZ Herald, getting a feel for how many people click on particular teasers/tweets/links in the first hour of tweeting could greatly assist with the hard editorial decisions on what stories or headlines should lead certain sections.

However, there is one gap with these current tweet trackers – they stop tracking once a person’s clicked on the link. What would be really useful would be a simple tracking service that gathered the leap from clicks to conversion within your site. Armed with that information you could really see the value of the tweet referrals vs other forms of online promotion.

Of course there are some ways to work around this but they’re complex to create and, in my experience, if the action takes more than a few clicks most people won’t bother.

This is where Stuff are doing some cool work. With a working title of “Short Stuff” they’ve created their own URL shortening functionality that they’re about to start using for their tweets. This simple action converts their longwinded query strings into 5 character URLs. They can track the clicks and any site activity from there.

That feels smart.

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