It’s incredible how many different URL shortening services have cropped up in the last few years. With the rise of microblogging, any way to save characters really makes a difference. In fact, without services like TinyURL, there wouldn’t be any way to put most URL’s in a single tweet, let alone add text to describe the link.
Despite the diversity of URL shorteners out there, none of them are quite like tr.im. The easiest way to explain tr.im is to walk you through the process of shortening a URL with it. First of all, take any URL you like. For my example I’m going to use the front page of MakeUseOf.
Obviously if you want to send your link to a friend or post it on Twitter, you’re going to need to condense it into a smaller package. Heading over to tr.im will present you with a text box for your URL.
Notice at the bottom there is a check box for whether you want tr.im to compose this link into a Twitter post. This is because tr.im allows you to either make a separate tr.im account or simply use your pre-existing Twitter account. If you choose the latter, you’ll have all the same user benefits of having an account, but tr.im will also send your links on to Twitter, per your preferences. Tr.im also accepts Identi.ca accounts as well.
When you’ve put in your URL, there is a little box available to you for extra options. You can try to select a unique identifier for your tr.im link. For ours I went with “MUO.” Fortunately it was available. Next you can select a privacy code. I couldn’t figure out what that was supposed to be for the life of me, but it completely disabled the first demo I tried to use it with. The instructions fail to come up when clicked, so no help there. Lastly, you can add some search terms to your link, but this is another mystery option.
Finally, when you click the “tr.im!” button, your link will be trimmed according to your selections and from there you can post it wherever. The story doesn’t end there, though. As I mentioned before, the link can then be made into a tweet for Twitter or Identi.ca. There are several sets of preferences that allow you to adjust how that works. Also, you can choose whether the link will go directly to the target address or go to an intermediary page so your friends can be sure it’s not a dangerous link.
The last and most interesting feature of tr.im is the stats tracking for each link. As you can see, each of my tr.im links has been clicked a different number of times and has a date attached to it for easy categorization. It looks like the link that has been clicked the most is http://tr.im/3ii, a link for contributing to the two charities I am trying to raise funds for. I love the ability to track the links you make because largely when you make a link you actually want people to click it (whereas many links are just for reference). Tr.im also includes a handy pie chart to display where the clicks are coming from.
Overall I plan on using tr.im in a limited capacity. All the microblogging tools I use already include link shortening, so that characteristic isn’t lacking in my digital life. The main thing I want from tr.im is the link tracking. Often I put up a link on Twitter and I want to know how many people actually clicked through to see what it was. Not only does this help me structure my teasers on Twitter more effectively the next time, but it is yet another metric to see where my traffic is coming from.