Business owners, job seekers, bloggers, and affiliate marketers all face the same challenge: building brand recognition to stand out from the crowd.
Social media, we’re told, is the land of opportunity – a nearly infinite network of possible touchpoints we can use to interact with followers, find mentors, listen to our target customers, and establish ourselves as experts in our fields.
The problem with standing out from the social media crowd is that the crowd is large and talkative.
Three years ago, the average social media user encountered 285 pieces of content every day.
That was just the average. Active and highly engaged social media users received as many as one thousand links (or more) daily. It’s reasonable to assume that those numbers are higher now, as more businesses turn to social media to engage with their audiences.
Does your brand get credit for your social shares?
Each link you share offers useful or entertaining information, but each non-branded link you share also pulls users’ focus away from your brand.
This can happen when the link is a long URL that includes the original source domain.
- For example, for the story linked above, seeing a share with http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/social-media-overload/488800 puts Adweek foremost in your mind.
Link shorteners clean up the visuals but still deny your brand recognition for the share.
- For example, http://bit.ly/1b2FbxR presents the same piece of content and serves as a touchpoint for bit.ly.
In each case, your social media audience gets the benefit of your shares, but you’re not getting a touchpoint for your brand as part of the exchange. Among the hundreds of links your audience sees each day, the ones you share don’t stand out by visually representing your brand.
Branded links create valuable touchpoints
Italian entrepreneur Davide De Guz noticed this missed opportunity after founding ClickMeter, a link-shortening and tracking service. In 2015, he launched Rebrandly to let users brand shared links, include SEO keywords, and track the results of their shares. De Guz spoke to HostGator via Skype about how Rebrandly can help businesses, job seekers, bloggers, and others create touchpoints and avoid getting lost in the deluge of social media links and shares.
Here’s a quick demo of their rebranding process:
Branded links increase trust
A shared link is only valuable if people click on it, whether it’s a link to an article your colleagues might like, or a link to a promotion on your business website. De Guz said his company’s research found that branded links get more clicks because users trust those links more. “We allow you to show your name, and you’re sharing information with people who already know you. Depending on the message you’re sharing, the click-through rate is 20 to 35 percent more compared to a generic shortened URL.”The click-through rate of branded links is 20 to 35 percent more compared to a generic shortened URL. Click To Tweet
Customized links reinforce expertise and authority
The benefits of branded links are clear for business, but there are also advantages for job seekers and freelancers, too. “It’s important to have a branded link to show your CV or resume,” De Guz said. “It’s a specific way to tell people what your work or business is about.”
Among Rebrandly’s domain customization options are many that help job seekers and freelancers define their work at a glance, including .mba, .farm, .investments, .accountant, .graphics, and so on. Jenn Herman’s domain extension, .social, makes her area of expertise clear at a glance.
Tools for SEO and link management
I used a press pass provided by Rebrandly to try it out for a few days. Its Google Chrome extension was a simple and fast way to share links on Twitter and LinkedIn.
I was also able to route my Rebrandly shares through my Buffer account. By choosing the “no link shortening” setting in Buffer, I was able to send shares out on my Buffer schedule but with my custom domain in each link instead of Buffer’s.The trade-off for that tweak was that Buffer couldn’t track clicks on those links, so I had to go to my Rebrandly dashboard to see my stats.
The dashboard is easy to use, a good starting point for users who might be overwhelmed with heavy-duty analytics. Advanced users can also connect Rebrandly with ClickMeter for premium metrics, and Herman told Rebrandly that she now has better insights into her Instagram traffic, compared to Google Analytics’ tracking tools for that social platform.
There are also tools to integrate Rebrandly with bit.ly and with other link-management tools.
In my trial run, Rebrandly was an easy way to make touchpoints out of links I was already going to share. I’d like to try the mobile version, but as an Android user, I’ll have to wait. There’s an iOS app available now, and Rebrandly spokeswoman Sian Kate Lloyd said there’s an Android app due in the months ahead.
Getting the most value from your social shares
For me, the goal was establishing expertise and name recognition. For an online merchant, the goal might be directing traffic to the shop. For a job hunter, the goal might be appealing to recruiters. In each case, custom links help cut through the clutter and may help you get more value from the time you spend finding and sharing links, especially if you use them as part of a carefully planned social media strategy.
Are you using custom links? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.