For many people, Bitly is simply an online service for shortening web links (URLs). Bitly is popular with Twitter users where the short links are essential in saving precious characters within tweets. Of course bitly links can be used anywhere to save space. The bitly service however offers a lot more uses than just link shortening. The following features are all available for free on bitly. Should you need there is a premium option, Bitly Enterprise. For a cool $995 a month the Enterprise version lets you manage multiple social media accounts and brand usage.
To get the most out of bitly, before doing anything else be sure to create your free account at bitly.com. This will ensure that your short links will be bookmarked, allowing you to search them and access analytics data.
Bitly bookmarks your bitly links as you create them. In Bitly world these are now your bitmarks. Each bitly link you create is unique, and it will never expire or be reused. You can delete a bitmark if you wish, choose to make it private or add your own notes. Each bitmark will attempt to pick up a thumbnail image and description from the link, along with the time or date when it was created. Detailed analytics, both global and individually for yourself can be displayed for each bitmark, including click history and referrers. For twitter users this offers one method of checking your tweet popularity where your bitly links have been incorporated.
Bitly bundles are a neat solution to sharing your bitmarks with others. A bundle is a group of bitmarks, bitly links you have created along with their corresponding thumbnail images and descriptions. It’s a rather neat way of sharing lists of links via twitter, facebook or email. Your recipients receive a link that takes them to a bitly page displaying your selected bitmarks. You can edit your bitly bundle, change the order of your bitmarks, add a description and choose an overall bundle thumbnail, or should that be a bitnail?
Want to know what public bitmarks all your twitter and facebook friends are sharing? Your Bitizens list of bitmarks show up here. Bit much? You can mute individual bitizens should you wish.
Under settings you can add your full name, email and your avatar picture. The latter is automatically set from your facebook, twitter or Gravatar account (there isn’t an option to upload your own). You can set your default bitmark privacy to public or private.
The Secret Bit
You can save bitmarks via email. Simply email a link to your secret bitmark email address (you can find this in your settings) with a subject title and the URL and any additional notes in the subject to add it to your account. You can also share the bitmark link to your connected facebook or twitter accounts this way.
You can add multiple facebook and twitter accounts and choose to hide them from your public profile should you wish.
The Advanced Bit
Here is where you find your legacy API key for granting 3rd party applications such as Tweetdeck to use your bitly account. You can change the default short domain name for your bitmarks to either bit.ly, bitly.com or j.mp or add your own custom short domain if you have one. Finally you can gather metrics on all bitmarks pointing to your website by adding a tracking domain.