We’re excited to release the latest version of the Bitly iPhone app, now with a sleek, new iOS 7 optimized design. The app is faster than ever and it’s never been simpler to shorten and share your shortlinks.
Bitly Brand Tools customers have greater insights into their shortlinks than ever before. You can manage your team through your sub-account leaderboard. You can also see total click and share counts for all tracking domains, your top shortlinks by clicks and your most frequently shared shortlinks.
Additional highlights include improved stats about the links that you’ve saved. Click count bar graphs have finally been introduced to the app and you can also see a full list of others that have shared the same link.
Using the new Trending Links tab you can discover popular shortlinks on Bitly in real time. Enter search terms to find trending content, or connect your Facebook and Twitter profile to see what links your friends and followers have saved.
Learn more about the iPhone app and download it now here. Any questions? Email support[at]bitly.com.
If you have not heard, Venezuela is suffering from economic imbalances affecting its currency, the Bolivar. As a result, Venezuelans are searching for information about the value of their currency. Unfortunately, the government has been taking action to restrict access to the free flow of this information. For more details on what is happening there, read here.
Starting on November 18 and consistently since then, we noticed a change in the traffic we see from Venezuela:
We believe this change in traffic is related to the government-owned ISP CANTV, which controls most of the Venezuela’s internet traffic. It appears CANTV is actively blocking hundreds of sites that publish information about Venezuela’s currency situation. Further, they appear to be intermittently blocking Bitly because our service makes it easier for people to share content.
We’ve been hearing from users in Venezuela too:
Bitly started as a link shortener to help people share links and understand what happens to those links. Since then, we’ve grown in many ways.
We’ve gotten really, really big. We’re shortening more than two billion links that are generating more than seven billion clicks each month. We see clicks from almost every website in every country in the world.
We’ve become more focused on giving individuals and companies insight into their place in the connected world, including a deeper understanding of what happens after they shorten a link. We track 4.8 billion data points each day and apply insight to that data.
What’s going on in Venezuela is important. It’s important to the citizens of Venezuela who want to understand the health of their country. It’s important for the rest of us, who might take our access to information for granted.
Our mission at Bitly is to empower people to better understand the world around them. We hope that the economic strain in Venezuela will be resolved - and sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we will work to find ways to support our users and their access to the free flow of information.
— Mark Josephson, CEO Bitly
If you’re a marketer for a retail brand, you’ve definitely spent long hours over many months strategically planning for the fast approaching Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. At this point, most of the hard work is done. However, smart social marketers know that their loyal customers and fans will be sharing their amazing offers all over the social web and are planning for a high-level of activity this week. Owning and monitoring this valuable content is imperative for branding and Bitly has an easy starting solution for marketers.
1. BRAND and CUSTOMIZE your links
Out of the billions of links being shortened at Bitly, the highest performing have two things in common:
They are branded with a branded short domain and
They are customized with a strong and unique call to action using a Custom Vanity Hash.
A major retail brand increased their click-through rate by approximately 500% after taking these two simple steps.
2. PLAN a strategy that understands your audience
You must understand when your audience is listening. Bitly Brand Tools allow you to identify the days and times your audience is most active through the Trend Report, easily accessible in the ‘Reports’ tab. Simply click on ‘Overview’ and then select ‘Trend’ from the dropdown menu. Review these days and times and plan accordingly.
Trend Report example:
3. REPOST exceptional offers and content multiple times
Remember: shortlinks have limited half-life, especially on Twitter. Reposting gives your offer the frequency needed to reach more of your audience. Brands who are hesitant about duplicating messages may change some of the language, keeping each post fresh.
Half-life of a link by social network
Twitter – 2.8 hours
Facebook – 3.2 hours
Direct (email/IM) – 3.4 hours
YouTube – 7.4 hours
4. TRACK your holiday campaigns separately from your regular content
By creating a sub-account for your holiday offers, you can track them independently and know the precise performance of each. Segment your reporting by creating sub-accounts with Bitly Brand Tools and easily generate a detailed report with aggregated analytics from all your holiday specific content.
Save yourself much needed time and look like a rock star when you show your boss specific offer data plus aggregated analytics across all of your content.
BONUS: Are you planning to share your content on several platforms? You can track the performance of each by creating multiple Bitly shortlinks for the same long link, then compare how each performs across social channels or when shared by different individuals.
Learn how to do this here.
Holidays are not the only time to take advantage of this strategy. It can be incorporated into your social media and paid advertising year round to promote new products, seasonal references or exclusive offers.
If you have any questions about your Bitly account, or just want to share your cool holiday branding strategies with us, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in learning more about Bitly Brand Tools? Send an email to email@example.com.
For the past 15 years, I’ve worked as a remote employee. I currently live in Denver and work for Manhattan-based Bitly. Before that, I was on a Virginia-based team at AOL for 11 years, working from Philly, Dallas, Philly again, New York and then Denver. During that time, I built up some personal tenets for working remotely which have served me well. They are in some ways simple, but when applied consistently, I have found them to foster quite a positive experience for those working with me as a remote individual.
Here they are, captured for others who might benefit from them:
1) Make sure your online presence is accurate. If you’re online on IM, you should really be there. If you’re away from your desk, put up your away message or sign off. You should be almost as easy to reach as people in the office.
2) Call in 5 minutes early to every meeting. When people join a conference call, you should always already be there, on the call, ready to go. You want people to react this way about you, “Of course Michael’s there. He’s always there.” With Skype, this translates simply to, “Answer the moment they call.” With Google Hangouts, it applies directly — be the first one to join.
3) Speak up on calls. Make your presence known and heard. If you never have anything to say, why are you there?
4) If you can’t hear, tell them you can’t hear. If what people are saying has any importance, you should be able to hear it. Same goes for seeing on video calls. If you can’t see what’s being discussed, try to get it remedied.
5) Be productive. If there’s ever a question that you’re not getting your work done as expected, you’ll be the low-hanging fruit precisely because you’re remote. I survived layoff rounds at AOL practically every 6 months for years. I was never concerned, because I knew I always delivered.
6) Make regular trips to the mothership. In-person contact is still needed periodically. I have found about every 6 to 8 weeks to be a pretty good interval.
7) Make your core hours match the company’s core hours. This isn’t always possible, depending on the time difference, but you should strive to achieve at least 3 or 4 hours of overlap. When I worked with a QA group in India for a time, where the time difference was 12.5 hours, we all adjusted our work hours so we could achieve a 3-hour overlap. Before we did that, question-and-answer cycles often took literally 2 days. To answer one question!
8) Figure out what you need others to do differently. You may need to make people aware that working with a remote individual may take some work on their part as well. They may need to be reminded to take extra time to think, “Does Michael need to know about this decision we just made while brewing coffee?” If you are invited to a meeting, is there a call-in number set up? If Skype, who is calling whom?
I find that it doesn’t much matter where I’m working — which tends either to be home or Starbucks — as long as I am able to follow the above tenets. That means if connectivity is important for a given day (which it usually is), it’s my responsibility to make sure I have access to reliable connectivity. If I’m supposed to do a 4-hour planning session, home is the right choice. Solid coding session? Starbucks affords just the right amount of ambient noise, random distraction and caffeine.
It’s worth mentioning that being a remote employee is certainly not for everyone. It takes discipline. You also definitely miss out on at least some of the camaraderie of the in-office experience, which at Bitly is saying something. I haven’t once, for instance, partaken in Drink Cart Friday. This is a problem. Perhaps I need to adjust my travel times….
Oh, and we’re hiring. (Are we hiring remotes? I guess that depends on your tenets for working remotely.)
Today we’ve released a pretty big update to our iPhone app. A lot of our changes were based on great community feedback from the past few months. The bundles experience has been completely revamped, and there are also added tools to help track stats more efficiently when you’re on the go. You can install the latest version of the app here. Take a closer look at some of our new features below.
Tracking domain stats (paid feature)
For paid clients you can now see stats for all of your tracking domains over the past seven days, or select a particular domain to track. You can learn more about signing up for a paid account here.
More insightful stats
You can now visualize your link’s traffic for the past week compared with traffic from all Bitly links pointing to the same content. Use the toggles above the graphs to turn these data sets on and off.
Scroll down a bit further to see your previous Facebook and Twitter shares or see who else has shared links to the same content.
A completely revamped bundle experience
It’s now much easier to sort through your bundles via the app. You also have more control of your bundles with the ability to add and remove curators, delete bundles, or change a bundle title or description.
So what are you waiting for? Download the app here. Have any questions? Email support[at]bitly.com.
Congratulations to Bread for their recent acquisition by Yahoo. If you’re a Bread user looking into saving your links with Bitly, we’re here to help.
If you haven’t already, you can sign up right now for a Bitly account.
Have a custom short domain? You can get it set up with Bitly by following these instructions.
You can track click stats for any link you save with Bitly. Learn more about the stats that we share here.
Unfortunately, the links that you previously created will no longer work, but you can save any long URL again as a new Bitly link.
If you have any questions or ideas please email us at support[at]bitly.com.
Social Engagement: How Content Spreads, panel at Social Data Week.
A few weeks ago our CEO Mark Josephson spoke on a Social Data Week panel with Eric Harris, EVP of Business Operations at BuzzFeed, where they chatted about social engagement and how content spreads online. The panel was moderated by author and speaker, Mark Jeffries.
In the half hour they discussed a variety of topics including what defines engagement, the possibility of using data to help content go viral, and whether it’s possible to predict what content will go viral next.
Mark discussed the typical patterns we see unfold with popular content shared on Bitly. “We’re amassing a tremendous amount of data and getting an incredible amount of proprietary insight into how people use the web and what they love and what they engage with,” he said.
They also spoke a bit about what great content is, and whether the transparency of social media has forced brands and governments to become more honest. “Social media has democratized the voices of the individual…I’m really interested in learning more in my new time in social and data platforms, to see how the platforms are being put in place for governments, brands and businesses to harness those voices because they’re exploding,” Mark said.
You can watch the entire panel above.
For the past month we’ve been working on Bitly for feelings, our new bookmarklet tool in beta that allows you to express how you feel about the content you share, using bitly links. Instead of receiving a normal shortlink with ‘bit.ly’ as the domain, we’ve created 11 custom domains to help you convey the many different emotions you can have towards online content.
Just watched a hilarious video? Why not share it with your friends using a ‘lolthis.me’ custom link? Want to share an in-depth article about the economy on Twitter? This might be a good time to use the ‘scaryto.me’ domain. Subtly hint at at items you’d love to have using ‘iwanth.is’.
If you have already been using Bitly for feelings, you may have noticed some recent changes. We’ve heard a lot of great feedback from the community about what they’d like to see, and thanks to their insight we’re adding the ability to share your custom feeling shortlinks directly to Facebook and Twitter. We’re also adding two additional feelings: Sad (sadto.me), which is pretty self explanatory, and NSFW (notsfw.me), for things that are more appropriate to view when you’re not in a professional environment.
You can install the bookmarklet by visiting bit.ly/feelings where you will find simple installation instructions. Bitly for feelings is still in beta, so keep sharing your questions and ideas with us at support[at]bitly.com. We want to hear what you think!
And if you’re interested in learning more about the feelings people share, we are excited to announce that the data created by Bitly for feelings is freely available for anyone to use. New data is added every time someone clicks on a “feelings” link. As usage of Bitly for feelings grows, bitly will have one of the best data sets for online sentiment on the internet. We want as many people as possible to benefit from the insights we get from this new offering. Instructions on how to access the Bitly for feelings data are available on our public data page on our developer site. If you have any questions or comments about accessing this data stream please send them to api[at]bitly.com.
Once a week, we gather together company-wide for Lunch and Learn. Every Wednesday, all of us (regardless of team, meetings or schedule that day) will sit together over lunch to learn about - anything! One person presents about a subject they’re interested in, a cause they care about or a side project they’re working on while the rest of us listen and learn over catered lunch from a nearby restaurant.
It’s more than a weekly perk for us to look forward to, it’s an important statement about the values we share as a company and the environment we try to cultivate at our office. At Bitly, our Lunch and Learns focus on one of the most important aspects of our company: the people.
“Lunch and Learn doesn’t have to be a lesson. What’s different about ours is that it’s unique to the person,” said Katie Curri, Bitly’s office manager.
Katie is the one-woman show behind our weekly Lunch and Learns. She orders the food, schedules the presenters and rallies us all back every Wednesday to unwind and learn together.
Why have a Lunch and Learn?
Lunch and Learn has grown from a weekly perk into a weekly tradition. We’ve incorporated it into our routine because:
It helps with transparency and understanding: “Even though we all work together, we’re on different teams and we might not know what everyone is working on all the time,” Katie said. This happens frequently at companies of all different sizes; you might understand what projects your team is working on, but not know the team across the office. Lunch and Learns can serve as a platform for teams to explain their responsibilities. When you understand what everyone does on a day-to-day basis, you have a new appreciation for each employee at your company and understand where they fit.
It builds community: “How much time do you spend at your job? For many of us, it’s a big chunk of our lives. We might as well make it a fun place that is supportive and where you know people care about you,” Katie said. “When you know who people are outside of work, it makes who they are at work so much richer.” At Bitly, our Lunch and Learns aren’t about work - they’re about people. They give everyone a chance to showcase their outside projects, interests and who they are as a person.
It fosters learning and growth: “It’s good to have an environment that people can build off of - Bitly started out as a side project and it became a company. You never know what can happen when you start bouncing ideas with people you don’t normally work with,” Katie said. An environment where people are encouraged to learn also encourages them to grow their technical skills or their personal ones. “A lot of people here will have the opportunity in the future to speak about what they know at conferences or events,” Katie added. “Lunch and Learn can give those who aren’t as comfortable speaking in front of people a chance to do that.”
Lunch and Learns of the Past
We’ve covered a bunch of topics since starting Lunch and Learn at the beginning of the year. Some of our most memorable lunches featured guest speakers, game tournaments and interesting side projects. Past Lunch and Learns included:
How to Build an App with our iOS developer, Nate Kirby
What Makes Puns Funny with front-end engineer, Jenna Zeigen
Coding 101 with data scientist, Alfred Lee
The Internet of Things with our platform product manager, Andrew Pinzler
Columbia Journalism School + Bitly with Sree Sreenivasan and the J-School professors
The Importance of International Collaboration with astronaut Ron Garan
Customer Communication with business development, Nico Snyder
Soul Pancake with Katie Curri
RAGBRAI with Betaworks head of corporate development, Sam Mandel
Intern Show-and-Tell with our summer interns
How to start your own Lunch and Learn
Interested in bringing Lunch and Learn into your office? Organization is key to starting any company-wide initiative, Katie said. Here are some of her tips to make yours a success:
Plan for the same date and time each week: “A big reason why we started Lunch and Learn was because I wanted to make sure there was consistency and structure. If you build structure to people’s routine, it helps them do their best work. It’s a comfort thing - you’ll always come to work on Wednesday and you can always expect lunch and to learn about something new,” Katie said.
Plan lunches and presentations in advance: Katie usually plans who will be teaching at Lunch and Learn and from where lunch will be catered about a month in advance. Local restaurants are great options to order from, or personalize your Lunch and Learn even more by asking for employees favorite restaurants. Katie organizes our favorite restaurants into a Bitly bundle to order from again. Too busy to research a lunch spot? Don’t worry - startups like Cater2Me and ZeroCater have services to help you out.
Be persistent: Most people will need regular encouragement to participate in a weekly Lunch and Learn (we still need Katie to remind us it’s time to take a break and head back for lunch) but with persistence, it can grow into an event that everyone looks forward to. Now, we regularly approach Katie and volunteer to lead Lunch and Learn or to suggest a spot to order from. “When you start something, the goal is that you don’t have to actively continue it,” Katie said. “The goal is for it to become something on its own. It takes awhile, but it’s happening.”
Interested in joining us for a Lunch and Learn? Good news - the pufferfish is expanding! We’re looking for people of all different backgrounds, from salespeople to scientists, developers to product managers. Take a look at our current openings here.
Last March, Bitly teamed up with Forbes to produce a data visualization which looks at how 15 media properties are being disproportionately consumed online on a state-by-state basis over the month of April. We had various preconceived notions of which state’s residents are more likely to consume news sites from certain newspapers, televised news, news magazines and online-only news properties.
For example, we believed that Fox News had a stranglehold on the south of the U.S., though maybe CNN might be able to take Georgia with their hometown advantage. We also thought that online-only sites, such as the Huffington Post, would not have the geographical bias of consumption in the same way that regional papers such as the Chicago Tribune or the Los Angeles Times would.
While the visualization and analysis over a month’s worth of data answered many of our questions, it inspired us to ask more questions that could not be determined with such a static/bulk data approach. The static visualization did not allow us the ability to determine if publishers own certain states in perpetuity or if loyalty switches based on certain stories getting traction.
The previous visualization was based on one large, finite dataset. We recently built a new version of this Media Map and this visualization is based on the Bitly stream. Visualizing an unending stream of data presented us with a variety of challenges, of which we will explain and also dive into how we overcame them.
Disproportionality versus Raw Counts
The reason that we chose to visualize disproportionate traffic rather than raw traffic count is that it makes for a more interesting analysis to highlight which properties were doing unexpectedly well in certain geographic regions relative to the nation as a whole. If raw clicks were used to rank states, the national map would be more likely to be dominated by the largest media properties from each media category, and the regional affinity towards certain properties, whether based on geographical proximity, or the content itself would be lost.
The Forget Table
The backend for the visualization is built on top of Forget Table (http://word.bitly.com/post/41284219720/forget-table). A click on a link only registers for ten minutes, after which it is forgotten. This allows us to only consider recent traffic when assigning state winners and top articles.
Building the Interactive Map
In order to reduce the overall size of the files loaded to render the map, we took advantage of the TopoJSON extension of GeoJSON which uses a technique that eliminates the redefinition of shared line segments representing geographical borders, ultimately reducing the amount of data needed to generate a complete map.
Finally, in overlaying the location of the real-time click data, we again used one of the capabilities built into d3, which converts latitude and longitude coordinates (which we have stored for all clicks that pass through the Bitlyverse) to points on a rendered map. This is done using the Albers USA Projection functionality (which is explained in greater detail here).
Selecting the Media Properties
We selected the 40 media properties included on the map first and foremost because they were heavily featured in our existing data set. We then narrowed the list down based on their footprint in the United States: high circulation newspapers, major TV news brands, etc. A media property was placed in a certain media category grouping (TV/Radio, Newspapers, News Magazines and Online Only) based on the primary distribution outlet for that news brand. For example, CNN is primarily a cable news channel, despite having a popular news website, so we placed CNN in the TV/Radio category. We wanted to include more media properties but the map started to get too difficult to read in a useful way, so we had to limit each category to 10 media properties.
And that is how the Bitly Media Map came together. If you have half as much fun viewing the map as we had building it, well, then, we had twice as much fun building the map as you had viewing it! (Sorry, data science joke.) Be on the lookout for new and exciting projects from Bitly Labs!
Interested in what Bitly can do with your link click data? Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org