Why Bitly? I Was Asking Myself The Same Question

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M LeMont

How did you get here? I mean, how did you arrive at my website. I want to know because Twitter stats don't show you even exist. You can imagine how depressing that is to make a business decision based on results when you see zero link clicks for a product or landing page. The number of Clicks could be the difference between winning and losing or success and failure, especially for marketers, bloggers, and self-published authors. If you fall in that category, this is the most important article you will ever read. Here's how I fixed the problem.

Why Bitly? I was asking myself the same question until I discovered the black hole called "Dark Social." First of all, don't let the name confuse you. There is nothing criminal or underground about it. "Dark Social" is a term for unidentified link clicks, users sharing links outside social media channels. Tech gurus know they are link clicks, but they don't know where they come from, so they categorize them as "Dark Social." Sort of like unidentified flying objects, scientists don't know what they are or where they come from, but they know they exist and call the phenomena UFOs.

Here’s how Alexis C. Madrigal, who coined the phrase back in 2012, describes it.

“One dirty secret of web analytics is that the information we get is limited. There are circumstances when you show up at our doorstep, and we have no idea how you got here.”

According to studies, 65-85% of users share links through mobile devices, smart TVs, tablets, text messages, emails, chat groups, social media platforms, What's App, TikTok, Instagram, private messages, DM's, and copying URL links into their browsers. All that makes it impossible to identify where those links are coming from. I had a pop up message on my iPhone that said, "You can text this Tweet to people on your Contact List." Oh, really, how cool? But it didn't count as a "Link Click" on Twitter because it was outside the channel. However, Bitly technology counted it as "Dark Social."

How would you like to discover that you have significantly more Clicks to your books, content, landing page than what you see on Twitter? Could you make better marketing decisions?

Here are the results of one of my posts using Bitly's tracking system. Notice if I was using Twitter Analytics that I would have seen only 8 link clicks.

October 25, 2021

Total Clicks 160

Email, SMS, Direct 130 (Dark Social)

Other Websites 22

Twitter 8

What is 'Email, SMS, Direct' in my Referrers analytics?

Bitly explains it like this.

'Email, SMS, Direct' is any website traffic that doesn't provide referral information. For example, when a link is accessed via an email, text message, or directly pasting into a browser, it's starting a new browser experience and Bitly is unable to identify where it originated. The industry standard term is 'Dark Traffic', which is not specific to Bitly.

Using Bitly, marketers and customer service teams can make sense of their link engagement and make better, data-driven decisions around their work.

With a growing number of audience touchpoints, these metrics offer critical insight into improving content and communications with the people that matter most to their brand: their customers. Below we highlight some metrics in Bitly that give you a comprehensive breakdown of cross-channel engagement across every link you create in real-time.

  1. Total Clicks

The number of clicks that have taken place across all of your Bitly links.

You can see the number of clicks each individual Bitly link you create curates, too. Just click on a specific link from the All Links or Campaigns section of the navigation menu. This is useful if you want to gauge the popularity of a piece of content or communication.

  1. Organic Share Clicks

This metric measures the number of clicks generated by short links created outside of your Bitly account. For example, a link shortened by an influencer or a follower of your brand counts as an organic share click.

  1. Organic Share Links

The number of links leading back to your owned properties that visitors have shortened and shared through their own Bitly accounts. Word-of-mouth marketing can help you build brand awareness and gain credibility for your business’s products or services.

  1. Organic Share Top Content

The most-clicked short links created in Bitly by people outside of your account. Organic Share Clicks, Organic Share Links, and Organic Share Top Content which you can see in the Bitly Dashboard give you insight the viral nature of your content.

  1. Top Bitly Links

Simply put, these are your most-clicked short links that have been created by your Bitly account. This is a great metrics for content marketers to take a look at, since they can see, at a glance, which pieces of content are paying off. (And, just as important, which didn’t make the list.)

  1. Technology

In Bitly, you can also see your top referrers and device types generating clicks to your Bitly link traffic. For referrers, this ranges from social media channels and dark traffic to YouTube and partners. For device types, this includes desktop, mobile, tablet, and TV device, among others.

  1. Top Locations

The top countries and cities generating clicks to your Bitly short links, broken down by city level and country level.


Whether you just want a snapshot of your marketing campaign's performance for the day or to take a deeper look “under the hood,” the Bitly Dashboard is a great place to start. By reviewing these metrics regularly, you can get a sense of what’s really working to engage your audience, which in turn helps you think about what to do next when it comes to offering the best possible experience for your brand’s customers.

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