Why Twitters t.co is Brilliant

Yesterday I spend some time on Skype with Zee from TheNextWeb.com to give my perspective on his article. He needed an SEO perspective on the Twitter Short URL roll out, and what it would mean. You can read his article here: Twitter Just Got the Respect it Deserves. The conversation was brief, as Zee was anxious to post the article. (Thanks Zee for giving me the chance to give my opinion. Ping me anytime... :))

After a while I was thinking a little bid more what the increase in Twitter referrals would mean for organizations, Social Media marketeers, Twitter and the whole eco-system. I thought of a number of more reasons why this change will impact the perception of Twitter as a powerhouse in Social Media. This is a brilliant move from Twitter, as they will gain in the perception of how influential Twitter actually is, speed of feature development on partner sites, and increased attention from social media marketing teams. Let me explain...

Twitter Just Became the Toll Man of Social Media Referrals

Remember the episode of Seinfeld ‘The Lip Reader’ in which Jerry is dating a deaf woman who is skilled in the art of understanding what people say through lip reading. Newman wants to ‘borrow’ her for a small task. Jerry refuses, and Newman throws in one of his evil predictions:

When you control the mail, you control.. information !!

What has this to do with Twitter becoming the Toll Man of Social Media? Simple, Twitter will control the information flow of the links that are spread over one of the most popular social media websites breaking the news in real-time. Before this change, other URL shortners were controlling the traffic, now Twitter will be able to control every short URL which goes through their system.

There is even an added SEO benefit for Twitter here. If anybody uses the t.co short URL on their website, the page rank will first flow to the t.co domain, after which it gets redirected to the destination site using a 301-redirect. However, Twitter does control all these t.co url's, which could be re-purposed and redirected to their own domain, as soon as the target url goes dead!

What is the ROI on Social Media

The move from Twitter to use their own t.co URL shortner is allowing every website owner to track better how Twitter is contributing to the total traffic referrals. Tracking where your users coming from is essential to understand how effective any marketing campaign really is.

In my last job, working for the very large e-commerce website eBay, there were many occasions any marketing program would need to submit estimated ROI numbers to secure the budgets. Loads of times there were more marketing programs submitted than there was budget available. Any smart organization would make decisions on budget allocation based on maximizing ROI of their investment, and eBay was no-different.

So, when you cannot even track what the return on investment was for a Twitter social media campaign, the teams would not even be able to secure the budget needed to kick off the campaign.

Every Social Media Marketing team is trying to defend their investments, campaigns or budgets, especially when the economy is going south. It’s hard to justify any budget for a Twitter campaign, if you are not able to proof there is incremental traffic, conversion or revenue coming out of the investment.

But now, with the increased insights of the Twitter referrals, the social media marketing teams will be able to point out how much incremental traffic was driven through the Twitter campaign, and what the ROI is on the budgets invested. The changes are a big win for any social media marketing team fighting for to proof their effectiveness, especially those in large corporation with a lot of processes and red tape.

Feature development on large websites

This argument is along the same lines as the previous one, however it’s got more to do with the actual product development needed for feature enhancements on large websites. With the increased insights of how Twitter is contributing to business growth, more product features focused on deep Twitter integration might make the priority list of the product roadmaps.

A deeper Twitter integration will benefit Twitter in a big way, as the team at Titter will get their hands on more data to play with, more feedback from other product teams on their API’s, and probably more ideas on what features Twitter would need to develop to grow further.


I’m sure you can come up with more reasons why this move from Twitter is a big thing, and where Twitter and others can benefit from the increased insights of how Twitter drives traffic to your websites, who is the influential person spreading your links on Twitter, and how much incremental traffic your Twitter social media campaign has brought to your business. I wold love to hear your thoughts, where the comments are open for feedback.

Me, I’m diving the rest of the day into the analytics of the sites I’m responsible for, and will send out a number of updates to my team with the new insights. It’s going to be a busy, but fun second half of the year...