Monday, January 12, 2015

Marketing Monday: Creating short links and other Twitter stuff


There's so much to discuss when it comes to book marketing that it's actually hard to pick a subject to cover each week. I mean, holy molasses, does it ever stop? Nope. Anyway. I was running out of time to get this post up, so I decided to pick a fairly basic task, something every author really needs to know how to do, and a reasonably simple thing you need to promote your books on social media. I'm talking about creating short links telling people where to purchase your books. For example, here's a sample tweet I recently put up on my Twitter account.



You'll notice (hopefully) the blue-highlighted link at the end that starts with smarturl.it. That is a short link to the real URL link http://www.amazon.com/Spirited-Away-Book-Angela-Campbell-ebook/dp/B00ME1M9AW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407149121&sr=1-1&keywords=spirited+away+angela&tag=smarturl-20. Long, right? On social media with character limitations, that can be a problem. Actually, twitter will automatically shorten your link for you, but I prefer to do it on my own. Why? Because I'm a control freak? Well, yeah, I am, kind of, but that's not why. There are pros to using a service such as smart url. I'll explain more below.

Now, there are a variety of services that allow you to create your own links. Which one you use is entirely up to you, and you might want to try each one to find the one you like most. I tend to use either smarturl.it and bitly.com. Here are what seem to be the three most common services used by authors:
To create a short URL, highlight and copy the URL of your book link — be it from your website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or whatever — and then go to any of these websites. You'll see a field where you can paste your original link. Click on create a short link, and boom. There's your short URL. Pretty intuitive and simple.

Now, I prefer Smarturl because it allows you to input various links into the same short URL, creating a universal link. Universal link? Huh? What the what? For example, when Gerard Depardieu in France clicks on the link, he will go to Amazon France while if Benedict Cumberbatch, in the UK, clicks on the same url, he will be taken to your book's page at Amazon UK. This is a feature neither bitly nor tinyurl offer, to my knowledge. Yes, it means some extra work, but in the end, it's worth it because it allows you to reach readers in different countries. You're making it easier for them to buy your book, because if Benedict Cumberbatch in the UK clicks on your link to Amazon US, he can't buy the book and would have to go to the Amazon UK site and search for it, and we both know Benedict Cumberbatch has better things to do with his time, right? Also, if Benedict Cumberbatch clicks on your link, massive high five, because that's just cool. Anyway.



I recommend registering for a free account with manage.smarturl.it before you start, so that all of your links will be saved and accessible for later use or adjustment. SmartUrl also keeps track of how many times your short link is clicked on, which can be helpful. Actually, bitty will also show you the number of clicks, and tiny url might, too — I'm not sure on that one. Point is, create an account to see analytics.

Once you have your account created, click on CREATE smartURL. You'll see a field for "default URL" link, which is where you should put your primary link. For me, since I'm in the United States, my primary link would default to Amazon US's link for my book. The primary link is entirely your decision. 

Next, you'll see a field for "Country Destinations." This is where extra work is required. If your book is listed on Amazon UK, but you're in the US, you'll have to go to the Amazon UK website, copy and paste the link for your book, and then paste it into this field, along with the name of the country. Amazon has websites specific to many countries — Amazon.ca is Amazon Canada, Amazon.fr is Amazon France, Amazon.de is Amazon Germany, Amazon.es is Amazon Spain, Amazon.co.uk is Amazon UK, and Amazon.com is Amazon US. I recommend visiting each, and if your book is available for purchase on any of them, adding it to your Smarturl for that book. A complete list of all of the Amazon websites can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=487250.

Remember how I mentioned analytics earlier?

It's a good idea to review your tweet analytics whenever you get a chance. It can help determine if your tweets are worded in a way that is driving people to learn more about your books. With that in mind, I recommend anyone using Twitter take advantage of Twitter analytics, too. Simply go to https://analytics.twitter.com. It's free! You can see how many people have clicked on your links, etc.

I hope you find this information helpful. Still have questions? Recommendations on other shortening services? Let me know in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading.


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