The real value in a shortened URL is that it enables you to track the reach and amplification of your messaging ("amplification" and "reach" are critical components of a social media strategy and I will address them in a future post). I'm partial to bit.ly and use it exclusively. It's a one-stop shop for shortening and then tracking my online link use.
With it I get a panel that shows the number of times that my content is clicked, the geographic location of the viewer (never knew that I had so many viewers in Brazil!), and the referring site of my views (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, apps, etc.).
Here's a screenshot of my recent activity (looks like I need to amp up my productivity!)
Maximizing your time and effort in social media is key and you want to be able to track your performance and see what kind of return you are getting on those efforts.
What are you doing to track your online engagement?