Most people know bitly as a useful URL-shortening service that helps save a few extra characters on Twitter.
On Tuesday, however, it relaunched as a social bookmarking service that similar to Delicious and Pinterest. The site announced the addition of bitmarks—a quirky name for ordinary bookmarks—and the ability to save and share links with friends. Bitmarks can be text links or video and images. (Another new bitly catchphrase is “bitizens,” the site’s name for its userbase.)
“We have big plans for bitly, and we want to build this neighborhood with our community,” a spokesperson wrote.
Bitly has always been a big part of the social Web, but only as a tool. According to an official blog post announcing the redesign, more than 25 billion links have been shortened with bitly since it was launched in 2008.
Is that database of links enough to build a social network around? And more importantly, is it necessary?
There’s certainly no shortage of competition. Much like Pinterest or Delicious, bitly now also lets users organize links by topic. Categories, called “bundles,” are similar to Pinterest boards or Delicious stacks.
All links will show up on “Your Stuff,” a user profile that looks like a nautically-themed Twitter stream or, as AllThingsD wrote, “the simplest blog you could imagine.” Unless users mark links as private, they’ll also show up in “Your Network,” a feed similar to Facebook’s Timeline. If your social contacts share too often, you can also put them on mute.
In order to join the new bitly, you can sign up with either your Twitter or Facebook account. If you’ve used bitly to shorten links before, it’s likely you’re already a member. (Just try signing in on either social network account to find out.)
Perhaps the biggest challenge for bitly will be providing people with the ability to add proper context to their posts. After all, users are more than the sum of their links.
Photo via bitly