Twitter's Tiny URLs

by francine Hardaway on April 3, 2007

I hang out with the A-list bloggers and the Lords of the Universe. That is, I follow them on Twitter, read their blogs, try things after they mention them, and generally act like an adolescent around technophiles. Because of the transparency of online life, I am able to do this. And it gives me a certain cache among people who have “real” jobs and can’t spend all day following Jason Calcanis or Steve Rubel on Twitter. For a mere modicum of effort, although I look pretty far behind the curve in Silicon Valley and perhaps New York City, I am a guru to most of the people who read my own blog.

Every once in a while the big boys fail to show me how to do something I really want to know about. They just do it, and they don’t talk about it, and I can’t figure out how they did it. The latest of these is how they began to add URLs to their Twitter posts. Twitter posts cannot exceed 140 characters, so it’s imperative that all the URLs you embed in your posts be short. After seeing weeks of URLs that begin “tinyurl…” I finally decided to Google the damn thing and find out what it is.

It’s a web site that exists only to help you shorten your URLs to avoid broken links. You go to the site, drag their little widget to your browser’s tool bar, and click on it whenever you want to shorten a URL. It immediately creates a short alias for the full address, and you can put that in the email you are sending, the memo you are writing (or the Twitter post if you are trivial and inane enough to hang out on Twitter).

If you ever want to include a URL from something like the NY Times, which has three line web addresses for some of its articles, you will thank me for teaching you about TinyURL.

And before I let you go back to work, here’s another terrific time waster. It’s Google Trends. To get there without the link I just gave you, you have to reach Google, click on more services, go to even more, and eventually you will get to Google Labs, where they test new products. They have been testing Google Trends for almost a year now, so it’s pretty good. Just by randomly typing in searches, I found out that podcasting as peaked, and body piercing and tattoos are on the decline.

Most interesting, these trends seem to decline just as they are announced by the media to be in the mainstream. They are all (at least the ones I looked at) biggest before the media find them.

Just to see if this could be really useful for market research, I also tried searching for “assisted living,” which I thought would grow as the Boomers turn 60. Not so. It’s been flat. But there’s a list of cities in which it is a very important search, and the city that’s out in front by far is Terrell, TX.

When I searched for golf, I find that it is on the wane as a trend, too, although only slightly. It’s still a big search topic in Phoenix — but six of the top ten cities where golf tops search lists aren’t even in the United States.

One more: “thread lift.” It’s a kind of face lift that requires little or no down time. It peaked in 2005, and has never reached its former popularity since. But it is still a top search topic in — you guessed it–Miami, Florida. Shades of Nip/Tuck.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Iggy April 3, 2007 at 8:23 pm

I’ve had this same feeling more than once. The feeling of – it would nice if everyone lived up to the hype of the share part of the internet. Although with Twitter it has been my experience that the service makes the TinyURL for you. The service can come in handy on other sites though. TinyURL has several competitors.

Josh April 4, 2007 at 6:44 am

BTW, If your Twitter post exceeds 140 characters, Twitter will automatically reduce your URL down using TinyURL.

francine hardaway April 4, 2007 at 11:10 am

See, the big boys will teach me after I expose myself :”-)

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: