The Longevity of YouTube Links

A recent study by the popular link shortening service has unearthed some interesting trends with regard to different types of links. Their investigation shows that different kinds of links grow, and then shrink, at different speeds, depending which platform they are posted on.

Hilary Mason, Chief Scientist at used the concept of ‘Half Life’ to help explain the patterns observed when users clicked on 1,000 popular Facebook, Twitter and YouTube links. In their study, half life is “the amount of time at which a link will receive half of the clicks it will ever receive after it reached its peak.”

The study showed links to breaking news stories typically had a shorter half life as their relevance drops off rapidly. Links to amusing videos have longer half lives as they are less time sensitive and not part of an on-going event or continuous information stream.

The half life of a link is also related to the platform upon which it is released. Links posted on Facebook last, on average, 24 minutes longer than links to the same content posted on Twitter. Furthermore, links contained in emails and instant messages last even longer than those posted on Facebook, though only slightly.

The Half Life of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Links

Links posted to Facebook, Twitter, email and instant messaging follow a broadly similar pattern. According to Mason, this is likely to be the result of the way these platforms interact. For example the links posted on Twitter will then be shared again via Facebook, then again via email.

Interestingly, YouTube links displayed a completely different click through pattern. The average half life for the 1,000 links on Twitter, Facebook and email/instant messaging was approximately 3 hours. The average half life for the same links posted on YouTube was 7.4 hours.

Mason believes that “You could say that Twitter is the best way to post something if you want people to see it quickly”. “But one platform isn’t necessarily better than another. We’re just showing that the platforms have different dynamics.”

So in summary, it’s not only what you post but also where you post, that has a major bearing on your link’s lifespan and ultimately, it’s impact. From a Social Media Marketing point of view, the timing of your posts also plays a huge part in the effectiveness of your overall strategy and this is something we’ll explore in a future blog post. By pushing your content out to different platforms, at different times it’s possible to maximise the lifespan of your Social Media links, making the most of your content.

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