Anybody can head over to the DMV and request a vanity plate for their geek-mobile. However, the cool geeks (oxymoron? probably…) don’t bother with such old-fashioned displays. They cruise the Interwebs with their custom URL shorteners. Why tweet a link to the latest Code Camp or article on multi-core parallelization using Bit.ly or Goo.gl when you can use your own custom domain name? Admittedly, these services are not new – some have been around for more than a year, but they are quickly gaining in popularity. I recently used the Bit.ly Pro service to establish http://Brice.ws. I don’t think the good people of Samoa will mind me using one of their domain names.
The Bit.ly service is easy to configure and currently free. The only cost is to buy the domain names you wish to use. You will need to establish a “custom short domain” to be used in your shortened links and a “dashboard tracking domain” for use with the Bit.ly metrics dashboard. After you establish your Bit.ly account, simply change the DNS A Record for your short domain to point to the specified IP address at Bit.ly. You will also receive an API key you can add to applications like Seesmic or WordPress plug-ins like Share and Follow.
To configure Seesmic to use your new custom URL, first click the Options icon in the lower left corner of the application.
Select the “Plugins” tab and click the “Settings” link beside the “Bit.ly URL Shortener Plugin”. You will then see the form where you add your Bit.ly user name and API key.
Add your information, save your changes, and you’re all set to use your new short domain in Seesmic.
The process is similarly simple when configuring the Share and Follow plug-in for WordPress. Enabling this feature in the plug-in will automatically use your custom domain to shorten the link to your post when a visitor clicks to share your post on Twitter. It also includes some nice additional features to pre-format the tweet with the title of your post, suffix to append, etc. Try it out by clicking the Twitter link at the end of this post.
You may have noticed in the Seesmic screenshot above that not all of the cool geeks are using custom domains yet, so get yours today and be one of the first.