Social media startup HootSuite is introducing changes to its popular URL shortener Ow.ly — commonly used on Twitter, Facebook and other sharing sites — to make its brand less invasive. On top of that, it says it will soon sell custom URL shorteners to businesses (think Amazon’s amzn.com).
Before now, when you clicked on an Ow.ly link, the service would put an opt-out “social bar” at the top of whatever page you were viewing, containing the HootSuite logo, as well as options to retweet the link, share it on other social networks, rate the content, or conduct a new Twitter search. Perhaps in response to criticism, the company has removed this bar from Ow.ly links, simply redirecting you to the page you want.
However, if you like the social bar and want it included, you can use the shortener Ht.ly (pronounced “hoot-ly”). The company says this should be the preferred choice of marketers who want to see links shared as much as possible. But most users, particularly on Facebook, probably don’t care how far the link travels beyond their immediate friends.
HootSuite attributes the shift to “changing desires in the marketplace.” People may have been annoyed by the bar, preferring instead to go with the clean and simple bit.ly, tinyurl or ff.im. Then again, maybe the company just wanted to offer more options. Whichever you choose, ow.ly or ht.ly, will become your default the first time you choose it.
And regardless of your choice, you will still have the same access to click-through data, broken down by region or date, and spliced according to custom metrics. You can also export these reports no matter what, and both filter out bots and phishing attempts by checking against Google’s Malware/Phishing list.
The next stop on HootSuite’s roadmap is to offer vanity URL shorteners to people and companies looking to brand their links. Several examples besides the Amazon one I mentioned above: Facebook uses fb.me, Google has goo.gl, and Twitter now offers twt.tl. HootSuite will make it easy for a business of any size to tap into this strategy.
In addition to URL shortening, HootSuite offers tools to help you track conversations online across multiple social media platforms. You can, for instance, continually search for keywords on Twitter, and you can create lists of Twitter members you want to follow. This functionality is also offered for Facebook, LinkedIn, and the slew of other networks people, particularly companies, want to keep an eye on.
Earlier this month, the startup launched several new collaboration tools for public relations agencies and teams of any kind looking to collaboratively publish and monitor content. These features can be used to assign tasks to team members and set permission levels for different types of tasks.
Based in Vancouver, HootSuite was founded in 2008, and raised $1.9 million in venture capital last December from Blumberg Capital, Hearst Interactive Media and angel investor Geoff Entress.
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