The Case Against The Use Of Shortened Links In Social Media

By Greg Finn

I  have a confession. I've haven't clicked on an link in over four years, and I click very sparingly on links that I find in social. This isn't an attack on shortened links, rather a celebration of the fact that we don't NEED shorteners anymore. But we still use them because they make life easier. While they make life easier for marketers, it may actually hinder the overall visibility of your content.

The following are the reasons that I don't advocate the use of URL shorteners in 2013 and beyond:

  • They mask URLs and require an implicit level of trust.

    If you follow a user and they tweet out a link, you have to trust that the shortened link is going to the correct location. You can however fool people, or worse yet, send them to spam/phishing sites. Do you think you'll see Detroit Lions news in the link below?



  • You may be stifling the power of your brand/site.

    You see that there is an semi-interesting tweet on a topic and a shortened link. Not seeing the URL, you may fail to click. If you had known that the link headed to a reputable site or a favorite destination, you may have clicked. In the example below, I would prefer clicking on content in the left where i can cherry pick by sources that I trust.



  • It can hinder visibility by making more work for others.

    In many forms of social media (forums, comments, communities, submissions) content requires approval before being published. Let's take a look at Google+ Communities for an example. There is an overwhelming amount of spam on the network and content submitted needs to be vetted. If you submit a piece of content to a community, an administrator is likely to see this:

    Your visibility now rests on the fact that the moderator will have to not only read your post, but also click through the shortened link. If the moderator saw that the link directly sent people to a site like Marketing Land or AdWeek, they'd like approve in a heartbeat. But now they have to do work to help you. This is the same exact issue with comments, forum posts, and social news submissions. Make it easy on those that must approve.


  • You don't need the shortening!

    With the evolution of Twitter's service and the increases of Facebook characters, we don't need the benefits of shortening. The most popular shortener,, will leave you with the same amount of characters as the standard full link inputted into Twitter.


  • Social analytics on par with shortener analytics now exist.

    Back in the day, shortened links were required to see stats. Today there are analytics on most major social sites that show exactly how content did.

    Additionally, campaigns can be created within your analytics package to provide properly attributed traffic. Use the Google URL builder (or auto-create a solution to append data to Tweets) and you'll see all you need to view in your analytics, no short link required.



Of course, the number one item to consider when making your decision is - what works for you? If you are somehow pulling invaluable data or saving buckets of time stick with what is working for you. For example, here is an  instance where shortened links may actually be preferred. Let say that you have a generic Facebook Page where you link out to sites that aren't yours and you don't care about enticing users to click on a link, rather just looking to track. Boom, just use a link shortener and don't try to send more traffic to the source.


So, we'd recommend testing and using what works.  If you liked this post fell free to  follow us on Google+,  TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Just don't expect to see shortened links coming from those accounts anytime soon!

By Greg Finn


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Meet the Author

Head of Performance & Innovation / Partner

Greg Finn

Greg is the Head of Performance and Innovation for Cypress North's digital marketing team and one of the founders of our agency. In 2010, he and Matt Mombrea started Cypress North in Buffalo. Greg oversaw the opening of our second office in 2022, located in his hometown of Rochester.

As Head of Performance and Innovation, Greg co-manages our digital marketing department and works closely with our team to ensure all our clients achieve the best possible results. He is always looking for ways to test new digital marketing techniques and technology, and oversees all teaching and training efforts to ensure our agency stays ahead of the curve.

Greg is also a co-host of our weekly Marketing O'Clock podcast, where he and the team provide updates, insights, and hot takes on the latest SEO, PPC, and social media marketing news. In addition to weekly news shows, Greg hosts our Marketing O'Torial digital marketing tutorials and often co-hosts bonus Marketing O'Talk episodes that bring together panels of digital marketing experts.

With nearly two decades of experience, Greg is a known and trusted voice in the digital marketing community. He’s a contributor for Search Engine Land, a member of the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) programming team, and has been a featured speaker at some of the largest search engine conferences, including SMX, eSummit, and Pubcon. 

When he’s not working or staying updated on the latest trends, Greg enjoys watching his kids play sports and coaching their soccer team. He’s been named the runner-up “Greg of the Year” on Marketing O’Clock’s annual Clockscars Awards four years in a row. While the coveted award has evaded him for many years, Keanu Reeves has not. Greg once saw him at Gabriel's Gate tavern in Buffalo (and noted he was very tall.)