I'm Experimenting With A Custom URL Shortener On Twitter

I set up my own URL shortener earlier today – sheam.us.

(See what I did there?)

I’ve also made this my default on bit.ly, via bitly.Pro (which is a free service), and this means all the links I share on Twitter will now be under the sheam.us umbrella. Okay, this is a little egotistical, but it’s cute and when I saw it was still available, it was impossible to turn down. It’s all in the name of science, after all.

(Note that is just for links I share myself on Twitter. At the moment any retweets done on Twittercism via the Tweetmeme button will still use the standard bit.ly URLs.)

This is possibly temporary. I’m a huge believer in the power of the pure bit.ly link (see why here), but I’m curious as to what the impact might be, either adverse or positive, of using your own URL shortener on Twitter. Is it a service that really only works for the big boys, or can anybody play?

What do I mean? Even though my new shortener is still 100 per cent powered by bit.ly, readers will be unaware of this and might view the sheam.us link with suspicion. This might mean less clicks, at least until enough people get used to it and hear my side of the story (through articles like this one).

Hopefully the obvious connection between my username and shortener will ease people’s fears. Lots of popular accounts on Twitter use a custom URL shortener through bitly.Pro, including the NY Times (nyti.ms), TechCrunch (tcrn.ch) and The Huffington Post (huff.to). Dave Winer also shortens a lot of his links through his r2.ly service, which I think works through Adjix. I’m small potatoes compared to these guys, but I don’t see custom URLs doing them any harm.

Using sheam.us, I’ve had a ton of retweets today so it doesn’t look like an issue at the moment. But the long term picture might be different, and I reserve the right to go crawling back to bit.ly if it all goes pear-shaped.