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Bitly

Goo.gl Shortens URLs... And Adds QR Codes

By far the most interesting part of Google's new URL shortener (Goo.gl) is that, in addition to a bundle of real-time stats, the URL's Goo.gl page includes a unique QR code. Clearly Google has plans for this to be a major component of Android and a mobile experience. One other short note: The UI needs some assistance. Bit.ly's one click copy, bookmarklet, dynamic refresh, etc make usage so simple. These are small enhancements that Google can / should clearly implement in short order.

See announcement by Google and coverage at TechCrunch

The Bit.ly Google Chrome Extension Is Also Awesome

I just raved about Google Chrome extensions and, in particular, the Brizzly extension. Well the Bit.ly Chrome extension is also great:

Once the extension is installed, it allows you to easily post to Bitly and access analytics (much like the bookmarklet I have written about)... but the other feature is the seamless inline preview of the URL.

The below screenshot captures a hover on a Bit.ly URL with high-level metrics (total clicks) and links to deeper information. Like Chrome and the other tested extensions, this is lightweight, fast and simple:

bitly extension

Using Multiple Images in the Facebook Feed (Zynga's Farmville as an Example)

Facebook's newsfeed is a powerful lever to message users / fans, reach larger audiences and drive traffic. Like any marketing efforts, positioning and timing are important elements (a good reason to use services like Bit.ly and to carefully monitor referral traffic).

Publishers and application developers are well aware of this are getting more creative - and aggressive - with how they utilize the Facebook Feed. One of the most important changes is the inclusion of more imagery in the feed and through Facebook Connect - instead of publishing a single photo, developers like Zynga include multiple images to create a much-larger, more attractive one. Zynga, who is always at the leading edge of understanding and capturing virality, does this very well with their new hit (and fastest growing game yet): Farmville. The images are bold, great-looking and represent achievements related to the players' most recent activity.

farmville-icon Similar techniques are being applied by other application developers and to blogs (posts often have multiple photos). Considering that the feed updates in real-time and your network might post hundreds of times each day, standing out is as important as it is difficult.

Facebook Feed Zynga

Also of note, Rails Rumble competitor FastFeud.com employed similar techniques: when a user posts a matchup to Facebook, the feed contains an image for each item and a "vs." sign.

Meebo's Share Functionality on TechCrunch: Drag & Drop onto Facebook & Twitter

If you have visited TechCrunch today, you likely noticed the Meebo chat integration in the page footer. The Meebo bar allows users to connect via Facebook, AIM, and other popular clients. It also acts as a carriage for rich ad-units (similar to VideoEgg's roll-over ads). I accidentally happened upon a different, equally interesting component of the Meebo integration: you can share images and content directly onto Twitter, Facebook, email and instant messaging. Simply hover over an image and then drag it into the header's drop down icons. Very slick and an obvious value-add for the publisher: one click viral promotion.

Facebook uses the "Facebook Share" functionality to post to the feed (I imagine Facebook Connect would be the next version). When posting to Twitter, it populates your Twitter.com speech box with a "short" URL (go.meebo.com/techcrunch.com/uid) and the article's title (I imagine the next version will have a bitly-encoded URL):

http://go.meebo.com/techcrunch.com/8n Right Before Facebook Bought It, FriendFeed’s Real-Time Stream Saw A Flood Of Usage

meebo-share-drag

meebo-spotlight

Bitly + Twitter Has Driven 350,000 views to Youtube's JK Wedding

In less than a week, Youtube's hit video "JK Wedding Entrance Dance" has been viewed over seven million times (and nearly 1.5m times in the last 24 hours). So what does that look like on the real-time web? And how much traffic have Bit.ly and Twitter sent?

One of the reasons I love Bit.ly is because of its transparency and ability to deliver meaningful analytics. For a given URL, you can see a page's real time traffic, referrals and geographic usage (all of which originated with a Bitly URL).

350,000 of the JK Wedding's 7m views arrived from Bitly alone. That is 5% of the video's views.

jk-wedding-youtube Even as the video's virality slows down, that is still 25-50 clicks per minute:

jk-wedding-clicks-per-minute

And Twitter.com represented over half of the traffic. Facebook was only 20,000 visits (but the video of course can be embedded directly into Facebook - Bitly's normal use case on Facebook is through the Twitter app integration):

jk-wedding-referrals

Proof enough that this video was a viral hit: it collected 5,000+ Diggs and over 800 retweets on Tweetmeme... and that is from a Youtube embed off Youtube.com (outspokenmedia.com).

jk-wedding-digg

Tweetmeme, Bitly, Retweets and Blog Comments

Even if a small change, it is telling that TechCrunch has added a Tweetmeme "retweet" counter to their homepage... directly beneath the comments counter (and visually more powerful). It is also telling that the reteweet numbers are often 5-10x the comments. twitter-techcrunch

I am not suggesting that either onsite comments are disappearing or less valuable that offsite comments (namely Twitter and Facebook) - but it is a powerful, fast-changing dynamic... and clearly publishers and brands need to understand, encourage and facilitate activity both on and off their domains. In this example, the TechCrunch post saw 10,000+ pageviews arrive from Bit.ly-only URLs:

techcrunch-bitly

Of course, as the conversation continues to become distributed, data and measurement become tougher to collect and mine. Danny Sullivan has two good, recent articles on how Twitter may be delivering 500%+ more traffic to your site than you currently believe.

- Is Twitter Sending You 500% To 1600% More Traffic Than You Might Think? - How Twitter Might Send Far More Traffic Than You Think

It is also important to remember that discussion and engagement themselves have great value... regardless of location and in ways measured beyond pageviews.

Bit.ly, Real-Time Analytics & Twitter as a Traffic Referral

Over a year ago, I wrote about the need for analytics for the real-time web (and the potential business model surrounding it): "Twitter and Friendfeed: Understanding Referral Traffic; Arriving at a Business Model".

Since then, the real-time web has exploded (thank you Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc)... and the need for deep data, filtering and search has only become more glaring (a notion made very clear in Twitter's internal documents and memos).

I have also written about Bitly and the role it can play in this ecosystem. Recently, I have started using Bitly's sidebar and data more actively (Clicks, Referrers, Locations and retweets). I love it. It's a glimpse of: - what discussions and posts are active and engaging - where the traffic and discussion is beginning (email, IM and desktop clients like Twitterific are primary drivers) - where the discussion is occurring (for the most active topics, it is more off my site than on it... fascinating) - Twitter's ecosystem (in the below example, Twitter.com accounts for only 6.5% of the direct clicks)

bitly-sidebar

bitly-data-analysis

The Real-Time Web, Authority Filtering & CrunchUp Themes

Yesterday TechCrunch put on the "Real-Time CrunchUp" event to discuss what has been billed as the real-time web. Alongside several product demos and company launches, the most prominent discussion topics were: - Business models and opportunities (Ron Conway provided his ten ideas)

- Businesses vs. Features: are these products able to sustain themselves as companies or are they features within larger companies

- Is the real-time web just beginning or is the lifecycle relatively advanced? And what does this mean for Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other big company's abilities to compete?

- Twitter vs. Facebook vs. Friendfeed and what each mean for openness, competition, user experience and, ultimately, the consumer

- Noise. A theme I have written much about: the real-time web is overwhelming. How do we filter the noise to arrive at what is most important and relevant. And does filtering mean that the web is no-longer real time? The last theme (noise) is most important to me because, as the real-time web becomes more popular (and it will), it becomes increasingly difficult to digest and decipher. This is where Facebook will have a major advantage (using the social graph and 'like' / commenting systems). It is also where Friendfeed has already done a great job by using activity, relevancy, social connections, etc to deliver the news that it considers most important:

friendfeed-realtime-web

Other companies that are well-positioned here (and that I have covered; click for coverage): - Tweetmeme - Bitly - Aardvark

And proof that filtering is especially critical for Twitter - even if, as many of the CrunchUp panelists argued, it delays the immediacy of the real-time web: beside the live-stream of the CrunchUp final panel was a Twitter widget displaying 'relevant' tweets (defined by hashtags). Spammers quickly and repeated followed. I added the below screenshot and blocked out the very graphic user icon: