Want some http://co.ke/tonite?
If you're investing in sending out a high volume of tweets for yourself or your company -- and you happen to possess a fairly rabid fan base -- it would be interesting to explore if you'd receive more click-throughs to your tweets as a result of vanity short URLs.
Most of you use Twitter pretty often, you've grown quite accustomed to URL shortening. Services like TinyUrl.com and Bit.ly have cornered the market on this service, with Twitter automatically using TinyUrl to simplify your Web site addresses. It's very likely you've clicked on a link like http://tinyurl.com/c7xpkh or http://is.gd/4px2 in the past day or two. You know what I'm talking about.
With this sort of shorthand being used across Twitter and SMS messages and now starting to bleed into our IM and email communications, important questions come to the fore: As designers, should we be providing these kinds of URLs up front in our work, as the primary root of our client's brands? Should we be using short URLs more often for things like ad campaigns and overall identity development that are intentionally compact(able)? Are there ways that we can continue to foster brand awareness through such a brief set of letters and digits, ensuring memorability?
This is futzing with our common logic for URL selection: Keep the URL name as simple as possible. If your company name was the Granite Rock Company, then you'd try to buy Granite.com. Or GraniteRock.com. Or, worst case, GraniteRockCompany.com. It isn't likely that you'd propose graniter.com, because it's not as easy to remember if it's said out loud. (Even though it's shorter.)
Let's say that you'd bought GraniteRockCompany.com. If you wanted to send that URL out via Twitter, you'd use up 23 characters out of your 140. You're using up critical copy space that you could be using to craft a more meaningful message. And if you're using bit.ly, then you can generate a custom link as follows: http://bit.ly/granite. But that's still using Bit.ly's Web site address as the root for the redirect.
This is a good starting point. But I propose that we do something a bit more meaningful. Verbose short URLs would allow us to take the weight off the rest of the tweet to do all the heavy lifting. (Though it's always fun to re/tweet things out into the void disguised for purely sarcastic purposes.) It would be a lot more effort, but it would be something that can be owned beyond http://tinyurl.com/cfwr3o for content-heavy websites and blogs.
As an example: If I owned Granite Rock Company, I could purchase Gran.it. Then, whenever I had a piece of content from my company, it would be sent out as follows: http://gran.it/article. This could be done through URL rewriting on the fly as something you build on the back end, or as a custom (resalable) tool.
I'm sure someone can make at least $5 on this before they get shut out of the burgeoning short URL market by GoDaddy.