Friday, February 15, 2013

Sharing Short URLS to an Audience

I went to an event some weeks ago and at the end of it there was an advert for additional content and instructions on how to download the mobile applications for different mobile platforms.  The links were shared with short urls like the popular bitly, tinyurl etc  and that was when I realized that sharing short url on a screen is a bad idea. While they work excellent for sharing links within Twitter or Face book by cleaning the look of the URLs and reducing the character count, they don't work well visually.

Short urls generated by services such as bitly are case sensitive but a lot of us are used to typing in our web addresses directly without ever using the shift button on the keypad or not caring any less because we all believe writing it all in small letters or capital or mixed does not make a difference. Well in the world of short urls. Type case makes a difference. 

I believe the best method to share a link to your mobile applications, website or any resource on a screen is to get your webmaster to do a re-direct from your website to the links you want to share.  For example, he/she can do a redirect from " " to your mobile application. This will be easier to do and less prone to errors than using a short URL.   

Another easy way will be to give an email address where your audience can send a mail to get the link. They may only need to send a blank email. This method even allows you to still use a short URL.

One option I like is for them to send an SMS with a keyword to a phone number Of a SIM placed on a SMS gateway or server solution. The system can detect the keyword they sent and send back a link to their phone numbers. This method not only allows the use of short URLs and will seem easier as most people feel closer to SMS on their mobile device than E-mail.  This is actually my favourite of the options in this article even though it sounds a little bit techy. ( OK, full disclosure after spending a while developing a solution like this, it has to be my favourite)

Any of these methods though will reduce the potential problem of displaying a short URL on a screen which will be hard to type onto the mobile phone browser or will create an impression of the site been available if the wrong case of characters is typed in.

The general idea in the world we live in today where there is every possibility to want to share links at the end of an event is to look for a method that will ensure the accuracy of the links you need to send.

You can follow my thoughts on Twitter @folarinoye

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