Twitter Tip Tuesday is a weekly blog series from Sprout Social Insights. Every Tuesday we’ll focus on just one Twitter Tip and show you how to integrate it into your social media strategy.

If you’re reading this post, chances are you have a Twitter account. And if you have a Twitter account , sooner or later you’re going to want to put a link into your tweets.

But of course, Twitter has a 140 character limit. So you won’t always have room to include a long web link (or URL) in the body of your tweets.

For example: The tweet below is already 42 characters over the Twitter limit because it contains an ‘unshortened’ link.

How to Use a Link Shortener on Twitter - Long Link

But all is not lost. There are a myriad of free applications, known as “link shorteners” that allow you to take a long link like the one above and condense it down to a more manageable, Twitter friendly length.

One of the most popular link shorteners (and one that’s used as the default link shortener in Sprout Social) is called

The simplest way to use a link shortener like is simply to copy your original long URL link, navigate to the homepage of the link shortener, paste the long link in the available text field and click ‘Shorten’ (see below):

How to Use a Link Shortener with Twitter - bit_ly

Using the interface right from the home page of we can create a shortened URL and copy it right into the body of a tweet.

How to Use a Link Shortener with Twitter - Shortened URL in a Tweet

Now the original tweet which was 42 characters over the limit is now an acceptable 140 characters and ready to tweet. Anyone who clicks on this link will be automatically redirected to the appropriate destination. Try it ►

Get a Link Shortener Account

Although we used the homepage of to create the short link in the above example, it is beneficial to create an account on the link shortener of your choice. That way you can save the entire list of shortened links you create for future reference.

For example, here’s a few of the short links we’ve created on our account. Now we can search for older short links and retweet these links whenever we want to highlight older posts.

Sprout Social Insights Bit ly Account

Link Shortener Analytics

As we can see from the image above, having an account with a link shortener application also provides you with useful analytics on the number of times your link was clicked. This can be an excellent way to measure how popular your content was with your audience.

Most link shortener applications will also provide other demographic data about the links in your tweets, such as what applications the links were “referred” from (ie: were the links clicked from within Facebook?, Twitter?, websites?, etc.) and what countries your audience comes from.

bit_ly demographics

Bonus Tip 1: You can copy and paste any link in a browser and add a “+” sign at the end to find out how many times that link was clicked.

Try it! Copy and paste this link in your browser ►

This is not only a quick way to find out how popular your link is without having to log into your account but it can also be used to track the popularity of links from your competitors as well!

Bonus Tip 2: Sprout Social also provides analytics of your clicked links right within the dashboard of the application.

Sprout Social Click Analytics

[Image credit: designatednaphour]