Ever wonder when and how often people click on links you share with your Twitter followers? There’s an easy way to find out, and I’m going to show you here. Just be warned, it can be addictive.
From time-to-time, it can be useful to know the popularity of a link you share in Twitter. Maybe you want to know what time of day is best for sharing your blog posts. Maybe you want to test out a couple of versions of headlines really quickly. Or maybe you’re just curious about how many people really pay attention to a single tweet.
In any case, there is a really easy way to monitor how many clicks a particular link gets in real time. I’ll have you monitoring your own links (or spying on other people’s) in just a couple of minutes.
How to Watch Your Clicks
For this exercise, we’re going to focus on the link shortener known as bit.ly. Bit.ly is one of the most popular link shorteners out there, and it happens to have excellent built-in analytics capabilities. If you use a Twitter desktop client like TweetDeck, there’s a good chance bit.ly is built in.
If bit.ly isn’t the automatic URL shortener in your software, don’t worry. You can always go to bit.ly directly (no account required) and shorten your links manually. This will work either way.
Step 1: Shorten a link with bit.ly.
Step 2: Share your link on Twitter, or anywhere really. This trick works for any platform you might share your link on. Email, Facebook, tacking flyers to a telephone pole, whatever you want to monitor.
Step 3: Take your link, something like “http://bit.ly/XYZ123″ and add a plus sign (+) to the end of the link, with no spaces. Now type that into your browser’s address bar.
You’ll get a screen like this:
Notice down near the graph that there are different time periods you can monitor. Click on “Now” to see the clicks roll in in real time.
This screenshot is from a link I just posted to Twitter. The graph shows that 10 people clicked on it over the past 10 minutes or so.
Pretty cool, right?
Now for the adventurous who have been curious about how much traffic a really big Twitter personality can drive…
How to Spy on Other People’s Clicks
Let’s do a little digging. I noticed that a few minutes before I posted my tweet from the screenshot above that Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) also posted a bit.ly link. Gary has over 850,000 Twitter followers as I write this.
When I pulled up the bit.ly real-time stats for Garyvee’s link, this is what I found:
Sorry for the tiny graphic. If you can’t quite read it, that says 738 clicks in 45 minutes, at 2 in the afternoon on a Wednesday!
How’s that for internet celebrity power? Wouldn’t you like to be able to drive 700+ people to a link at your will by just typing 140 characters or less? Just imagine how many clicks Gary gets during prime clicking hours.
A Fun Experiment to Try
Here’s another one you can try. You know all those people on Twitter who have like 50k or more followers, but seem to have gotten them disingenuously?
Pull up one of their links and compare the clicks-to-followers ratio against your own, or against an internet rockstar. I’ll bet you’ll find that acquiring a bunch of followers by brute force doesn’t necessarily pay off in the clicks department.
A Word of Warning
I mentioned earlier that this can be an addictive thing to try. We already talked earlier this week about getting the most out of your social media time. This exercise could be useful, or it could end up being a time sink. How you use it is up to you. May the force be with you, or whatever.
Also, I know this works on bit.ly like in the example, and I’m guessing some other URL shorteners also have analytics functionality built-in, but I haven’t done the full investigation. The cool thing about bit.ly is that you don’t have to have an account with them.
Enjoy your click
spying, I mean monitoring. Let me know what you find out in the comments!
photo by practicalowl