Bitly is a tool which shortens URLs, creates QR codes, and can generate link-in-bios. The platform allows users to track engagement, including clicks and shares. Bitly even tracks what it calls “organic shares,” when other users create shortened urls of your links, for example to cite your article on Twitter. Activity around your links can be analyzed by department, channel, brand, user, or location, down to city-level. The platform can manage any number of links and users can create tags to organize links. Bitly is highly customizable, with a link personalization feature and a service in which the company will assist users in creating new API integrations. Bitly allows users to build short UTMs (Urchin Tracking Modules, the Google Analytics codes that can be attached to URLs to track data for digital campaigns) to track your campaigns without the difficulty of extremely long links.
- While the Bitly website claims the platform protects your links by encrypting them with HTTPS, its servers have been breached before and the company was not transparent about what risks a breach creates. The effects of such a breach likely expand beyond Bitly accounts, as those accounts are connected to other websites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Malicious actors can take advantage of the simplicity of reduced URLs. If links are connected to a file in the cloud, hackers can easily access other documents in the same account because reduced URLs follow the same structure, making them very predictable. Researchers have been able to use a single document in a OneDrive to access all of the files sharing the OneDrive. This can expose sensitive information or allow hackers to upload malware into shared folders.
- The Bitly website claims the platform is “GDPR compliant and CCPA ready” and protects personal data during the integration process.
- However, Bitly acknowledges that when a user creates an account, the platform collects some personal information, including the name, phone number, company name, industry, job title, company size, and email address.
- Bitly also continuously collects personal information as people click on and share links, including their IP address and location, the referring website or service, the time and date, device settings (eg. browser type, operating system, language), cookies, and data related to shares on third party services, like social media platforms. This information is key to the tool’s engagement tracking platform, but it is important to note that the information is collected whether or not the creator of the link is the one sharing it. However, only data on user content is linked to your identity, while identifiers, usage data, and diagnostics are stored unlinked.
Please also note that partners may be reluctant to click on shortened links as disguising links with link shorteners is a known phishing tactic. Typing a “+” at the end of a bitly link reveals the original link.
- Bitly has several tiers of pricing, which relate to the number of features available and the customization assistance provided.
- Bitly offers a free tier.
- Bitly offers a custom tier called Enterprise, which Bitly will provide a quote for.
- Bitly’s pricing is comparable to other similar tools.
- If you are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, you can receive tax-exemption reimbursement by contacting Bitly Support and providing your organization’s IRS determination letter.
- At this time, Bitly only offers support in English.
QR Codes in Albania
The Albania team regularly uses QR codes to support programming in the country. Though the team has mostly used Canva to create QR codes, Bitly can provide a similar service and can be used to track engagement with the links. QR codes have been used in the following ways:
- Expanding Access - Workshop materials and agendas are accessed through QR codes rather than printouts makes expanding programs easier.
- Education - Cards with QR codes were used to connect citizens with Parliament on the palm of your hand, an online quiz game to help citizens learn about the history, function, and role of Parliament and the electoral system.
- Education - The team spread cards with QR codes that brought citizens to a virtual tour of the Parliament
- Education - The team used QR codes to direct students to an informative video about the structure of a game called My Point of View Game, which was developed for the Albanian Parliament with the assistance of the Swiss Parliamentary Services, which had previously developed a Swiss version.