Want to find out your online influence?

Originally posted on Oct. 8, 2010 on the Olson Communications company blog. Republished with permission. See original post here, and follow Olson Communication on Twitter: @olson_comm

We have the magic bullet for tracking your social media ROI. Well not exactly, but almost — and it’s free! If you have been wondering who’s paying attention to you on Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else, check out tiny.cc. Tiny.cc is a site that shortens your extra-long URLs for easy tweeting and then provides real-time analytics, allowing you to measure exactly how much influence you have!

Here’s how it works: I tweeted a CNN article the other day, and tiny.cc shows that my Tweet link received 103 clicks, including at least 11 from outside the country:

Check out the full page of analytics here: http://tiny.cc/5wze4~

Is tiny.cc breaking news? Not quite, click-tracking has been around for a while. Plus, if you’re linking to your website, you should already have detailed statistics about the sources of your web traffic.

However, tiny.cc is currently the best in the business for click-tracking analytics on social media, even if you’re linking to someone else’s site. Alternatives? Well, http://bit.ly/ used to be a fantastic click-tracking option, but not anymore — the site’s software appears to have some serious bugs. Case in point, check out how many clicks bit.ly says the Phoenix New Times received for an account with 4,800 followers:

Check out bit.ly’s analytics here: http://bit.ly/di6crU+

I’m almost certain that number is wrong – only 12 clicks for 4,800 followers? Yeah, right. Obviously, it’s difficult to be sure. However, I did a casual survey of big news websites and found most of bit.ly’s numbers to be questionable.

Want to try it yourself? Find any bit.ly link and add a “+” so you get links like this:

The Economist


FOX News

New York Times

How did that FOX News tweet get 1,500+ clicks and CNN’s tweet only received about 300? Maybe those numbers are correct, though the FOX Twitter account has 300,000 followers and CNN has 1.3 million. Probable answer: bit.ly is unreliable and inconsistent. It works sometimes, it doesn’t work others.

In short, if you just want a shortened link with fuzzy-at-best analytics, use bit.ly.  If you want reliable, real-time analytics, use tiny.cc. And if you want to see analytics for anyone’s tiny.cc links, add “~” at the end of the link. Like this.

Finally and for kicks, we’ll update with how many clicks I get for tweeting to this post. What do you think? 50? 100?

Update: With a few tweets & Facebook posts, our tiny.cc link received 169 clicks by Monday morning. 166 of those were unique, 3 were return visits.

Update #2: Tiny.cc appears to be having a few bugs today in its real-time analytics tracking. Namely: some charts aren’t showing up properly (though the basic click tracking works). Ah, the irony.

Editor’s note: Matt Culbertson is an intern at Olson Communications. Follow him on Twitter: @mattculbertson


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Anecdote from Brussels, Belgium

After a brief trip to Paris, I’m back at my cousin’s place in Brussels. He lives in a neighborhood with a few sketchy stories — including the al-Qaeda terror cell that was busted almost literally down the street from him.


Bullet hole in one of the windows at my cousin's place. The bullet was aimed at the sky, not inside, so the round lodged in the ceiling. This doesn't happen very often.

Of course, it’s not necessarily dangerous where I’m staying. If anything, I’d be the victim of a property crime, like the four students  who had their computers stolen from their flat in London on my study abroad trip.

Anecdote: Within the last year, my cousin was driving in his neighborhood and saw a car accident directly in front of him. A man was making a left turn when another man clearly ran a red light and slammed into him, totaling the red light runner’s car. My cousin, in good faith, decided to be a witness to the crime to make sure the red-light runner didn’t get away with it — and my cousin ignored the warning he had been given  a while earlier: don’t get involved, even as a witness for a traffic accident.

A man near the scene stopped my cousin from giving his name and told him that the car crash was intentional — maybe they were trying to kill the guy, or just send a message. So my cousin left the scene and avoided being a witness, which would have required him to give his home address. Reminded me of a scene in Analyze This.

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How to make a free international call to your bank

I needed to call my bank in the U.S. from Liverpool, England, and figured it would take a while. So I asked my little sister for a favor. On Skype, she dialed the bank with the call on speaker phone and acted as my operator through the automated touch tone system.

The call took about 45 minutes, which would have cost around $45 after exchange rates. Thanks to my sister, it was free — aside from eating up her time. With obstacles like answering really obscure security questions, the situation was pretty hilarious. (“Michelle, quit playing music!” “Why would I do that? It’s their lame hold music.”)


Fun on Skype.

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Satirical Facebook apology

Mostly rings true on every level:

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Last-minute visit to Liverpool

After having the warmest welcome of my trip in Cardross, Scotland, where my friend’s family hosted me for five days, I left for Liverpool, England. It turned out I had a day to kill before visiting my Aunt and Uncle in Belgium, so my mom really graciously offered to buy me a Liverpool hotel and a ticket to the Beatles tour (thanks, Mom!) My 18-hour stay in Liverpool was one of the best I had in England. And the Beatles has been one of my top three favorites for at least 10 years — I was all over the tourist attractions, no matter how shamelessly they catered to the Beatles-obsessed demographic.

On my last train to Liverpool, the man sitting across from me was grading essays, and I asked if he was a professor. He turned out to be Tunde Zack-Williams, Professor of Sociology at the University of Central Lancashire, and one of Britain’s most regarded experts on politics, conflicts and race relations in West Africa. We had a great conversation about current events and his work in Africa, which involved spending a year in the diamond mines for one of his books.

In Liverpool, I randomly met two girls my age who were visiting from Southport — they showed me all over town. Even with a tourist-y feel in some areas, I loved this city. It was slower paced than London, very walkable and full of British welcomes. Something I noticed while out with my two temporary tour guides: I tend to listen and smile more if the accent is anything different than what I’m used to. I wonder if that’s reciprocated?

Anecdote from a Liverpool taxi driver:

Possibly true: the taxi driver said he was once arguing with a bartender over getting four cokes. There were a dozen behind the bartender, but she said they were reserved. So he argued and argued. Until John Lennon reached over his shoulders and grabbed four of the cokes, reserved for The Beatles — before they were big. Lennon gave him a quick smile.

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RIP Ethan Mills, 1991-2010

Ethan Mills died of cancer on Thursday, he was 19.

“Ethan Mills; met death with a party”

I never knew him well, but we knew each other from elementary and high school. His speech at his going-away party — an event I missed while I was abroad — is one of the most inspiring things I’ve seen:

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Ironic: WSJ and Washington Post op-eds on the BP oil spill

It’s a bit emblematic of their opinion pages: today the Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece by BP’s chief executive discussing their actions in response to the spill, while the Washington Post published an op-ed asking why BP’s CEO hasn’t been fired.

Wall Street Journal: Tony Hayward: What BP Is Doing About the Gulf Gusher

Washington Post: Why is Tony Hayward still on the job?

I’ve been reading as much as I can about the spill over the last few weeks from Brussels, Dublin, Rome and London. It’s been interesting to see the foreign media cover this — in London, I’ve seen quite a bit of “this-is-bad-for-Britain” coverage, in Dublin, I’ve seen truly removed, outside perspective coverage and in American news outlets, it’s read like the apocalypse.

PR-wise, this is an obvious disaster for BP. But it could be one for Obama, too — the consensus I’ve gotten from left, right, middle and other political commentators seems to be that this oil spill could dramatically hurt Obama. His handling of it, particularly his lack of emotion, has been extremely counterproductive in the eyes of a lot of respected political strategists. Everyone’s pointing to him unsuccessfully avoiding the Bush-Katrina label. One of the most damning articles I’ve read on Obama & the spill comes from the WSJ’s conservative Peggy Noonan:

He Was Supposed to Be Competent

I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill.

The original sin in my view is that as soon as the oil rig accident happened the president tried to maintain distance between the gusher and his presidency. He wanted people to associate the disaster with BP and not him. When your most creative thoughts in the middle of a disaster revolve around protecting your position, you are summoning trouble.

Today, I read that the oil spill is considered “the worst environmental disaster in United States history” according to Carol Browner, Obama’s chief adviser on energy and the environment. I also saw the infamous AP photos showing seabirds caught in the oil slick.

What a depressing, disgusting mess. For a dark laugh on all of this, visit the faux Twitter for BP’s PR outreach: http://twitter.com/bpglobalpr

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