When we first started talking about Branded Short Links last year, Twitter had just made an announcement that it was changing its character limit so that media wouldn’t eat up your entire tweet. While Twitter has since rolled out that feature to include photos and videos, links were not part of that exemption. It was a compromise, but it does make sense to avoid the potential problems it could have caused, for instance: www.rightside.news/Imagine_if_someone_wrote_a_10,000-word_tweet_using_nothing_but_an_incredibly_long_URL_How_awkward_would_that_be?
So services that shorten links for social media—like Bit.ly, Po.st, Google URL, Rebrandly, and others—continue to have a lot of value. But the same problems we had with generic short links last year are still problems today. How does a user know to trust what they’re clicking on, and how does a generic link actually enhance the tweeter’s brand? The answer to both is that they don’t.
As it turns out, the biggest benefit of the Branded Short Link—the fact that it’s short—is still a major selling point. But the growth potential of Branded Short Links is really among the crowd that wants more engaging, trusted ways to communicate with their audience. And now, thanks to some more proactive brand protection services and some organic momentum behind short domains, we’re beginning to see several big names get in on the Branded Short Link game.
Over our last couple of editions of DomainSpotting and over at Showcase.ninja, we saw recognizable brands starting to use .SOCIAL Branded Short Links: Microsoft, Chick-Fil-A, Lindt Chocolate, and the New York Jets. We’ve actually been made aware of so many others, we didn’t even have room to include the likes of GoDaddy and Trump Hotels.
We’re even seeing the trend in some of our other domain extensions: Etsy used Etsy.studio to announce the launch of their new Etsy Studio project, Apple has Apple.news to share stories over iOS, and the People/EW Network uses PEN.live as a convenient acronym for social media.
These brands aren’t alone. Bitly has 55,000 branded short domains under management, which includes 21 of Forbes’ top 25 brands. By their estimate, short domains increase click-through rates by 34% over unbranded links. Rebrandly also sees 30% higher engagement, and Po.st has a 25% click volume increase with branded versions of their link shorteners.
Brands continue to go beyond brand protection and are beginning to recognize new TLDs as a true opportunity for brand enhancement. Our TLD portfolio contains some of the best keyword matches for businesses, brands, and individuals to better describe the content of their links. So with these big names and companies constantly competing for trust and engagement over social media, and the data demonstrating improved marketing outcomes, extensions like .SOCIAL (as well as .NEWS, .LIVE, and others) should continue to see more use in Branded Short Links. For our part, we’ll be sure to keep exhibiting new examples of this trend at Showcase.ninja, and in upcoming editions of DomainSpotting.