Link shortening is a great thing. If you want to send people to a web page from printed material, we all know they won’t do it unless the URL is short and has a minimal number of slashes in it. So they might type in bmon.co.uk/video but tell them to visit vimeopro.com/user11713356/business-marketing-onlines-video-showcase and you’re wasting your time.
The best link shortening systems are hosted on your own domain, so people have confidence in them. With third-party services like TinyURL, you need to be confident they’ll remain in operation for years, and there’s no guarantee they will. However, not everyone has the facility to set up their own redirection systems, so the third-party services are the only option.
If you do use these, use them cleverly. For example, if you just put a full URL into TinyURL, the resulting short URL provided will be something like tinyurl.com/ya7mrvn – a URL which is just odd, and slightly offputting. Newspapers are notorious for doing this: the shortened URLs they offer are usually such a bizarre collection of letters, numbers and symbols that you’d really have to want to visit the site to go to the chore of typing it in, character by character.
TinyURL offers you the chance to define your shortlink in plain words, however, so use this ability. Instead of settling for the random character string offered by default, I just created tinyurl.com/bmon-website. Common sense really.