Did you ever wonder whether you should shorten your links or leave them as they are when posting them to your fans on Facebook? Both options have their pros and cons but we found out which type gets users clicking and engaging more.
Photos are undoubtedly the most popular content type on Facebook and brands often choose to post visuals to boost their Engagement Rate. We often talk about the power of visual storytelling and the last time we checked (in the first week in December), 77% of the content posted by brand Pages were photos. But how are other types of posts ranked? We asked ourselves how to make links, the second most popular posts (9%), most beneficial for brands.
Because sharing is such an important activity in social media, URL shorteners were invented to make communication easier and more organized. These web tools shorten unappealingly long chains of letters, numbers, and characters to make them more manageable and nicer to look at. Plus, you usually want to fill your social space efficiently, by adding a comment or message to the link. You would think that you should be using free shorteners like bit.ly all of the time, but it isn’t as obvious as it seems. The disadvantage to shortened URLs is that sometimes people won’t click on the links, because they are not sure where they lead. Users hesitate when seeing these URLs, since they are so often abused by spammers. Less experienced users may not even know that they should open the link to be redirected to additional content and information.
We consulted our data to discover which type of links receives more Facebook interactions (Likes, Comments, Shares) and generates a higher average Engagement Rate. In January this year, 32% of the posted links by Page admins were shortened whereas 68% stayed long. The standard sized URL addresses generated a 15% higher Engagement Rate than the shortened ones. The latest data from December shows an increase in the number of posted shortened links (by about 11% to 36% overall), but an even bigger decrease in average Engagement Rate per post (by an additional 14%). Does that mean that Facebook users trust these links less than they did before?
Visually, links seem more authentic when they are branded and tell you where they are taking you, which is why they generate more engagement. But bear in mind that nothing can be generalized in social media because not everything works for everyone. Maybe your fans trust you to the extent that they interact with all your shortened links. A good compromise would be to utilize services that customize URLs that will keep your links short and sweet, but also branded. And in case you decide to leave them long, don’t forget to delete the URL once your thumbnail and preview of the link are uploaded. That way you won’t duplicate the address and the post will look much neater and more appealing.
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