Half life of a socially shared link https://www.moorelegaltechnology.co.uk/blog/tags/half-life-of-a-socially-shared-link.html Tue, 23 May 2017 15:51:13 +0100 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb The short life of a socially shared link https://www.moorelegaltechnology.co.uk/blog/the-short-life-of-a-socially-shared-link.html https://www.moorelegaltechnology.co.uk/blog/the-short-life-of-a-socially-shared-link.html

When working with law firms to measure the ROI on their social media use, one of the useful tools we use is the url shortener bitly. It was therefore interesting to read Bitly's latest blog about how long a social media link is “alive” before people stop caring or, more accurately, how long before people stop clicking through the link.

Half Life

Bitly have considered the “half life” (ie the amount of time at which this link will receive half of the clicks it will ever receive after it’s reached its peak) of 1,000 popular bitly links and concluded that there is a surprising trend. They conclude that the mean half life of a link on twitter is 2.8 hours, compared with 3.2 hours on facebook and 3.4 hours via ‘direct’ sources (like email or IM clients). Links to YouTube, on the other hand, have a mean half-life of 7.4 hours, probably because it is more difficult to view web videos at all hours of the day. Which means that, in general, the half life of a bitly link is about 3 hours, unless you publish your links on YouTube. This is illustrated in the following diagram produced by bitly:-

bitly halflife density

Nevertheless, bitly do admit that the half-life of many links last a lot less than 2 or 3 hours: in some cases, with breaking news stories, the half-life of links can be cut to minutes, as this illustration shows:-

bitly news post halflife

Here, with the Washington Post’s link to the “East Coast earthquake: 5.8 magnitude epicenter hits Virginia” as posted to Twitter, after 5 minutes the link had seen half of the clicks it would ever see.

Second Chance Tweeting?

It may therefore be asked, what if the link is tweeted again? Search Engine Land claims that they receive 50% more traffic by posting the link a second time:-

“On our @sengineland Twitter account, we tweet a story as soon as it’s posted. However, many of our Twitter followers might easily miss this, if they’re not online, busy and so on. That’s why we schedule a “second chance” tweet for most major stories to go out a few hours after they originally get tweeted.

Typically, we receive about 50% more traffic from Twitter from our second chance tweets as from the original ones. In other words, by simply tweeting a story again, some hours after the “half-life” of the original tweet has expired, we pick up 50% of the traffic that the original tweet generated.”

It’s nevertheless important not to bombard followers with too many tweets of the same post, but the “second chance tweet” when done in moderation can be useful.


In summary, the lifespan of the link is connected more with the type of content shared rather where it is shared: as bitly note, “on the social web it’s all about what you share, not where you share it!” Given that modern law firms are capable of producing exceptional content, this should come as welcome news, with one important caveat – for any of the above to matter, the content must be shared through social media.

Social Media Promotions Thu, 08 Sep 2011 08:52:49 +0100