The Lifespan of Shared Links

Do you know how long your links live on social networks?

A recent article on the bitly blog asks, “How long is a link “alive” before people stop caring?”

It’s a very relevant question, especially to all of the online publishers and content marketers who are sharing content throughout an array of websites.

Have you ever considered the type of content you share and the places you share it? bitly did, and decided to share a few principles they’ve come to notice while looking at the links they come across.

In order to accurately measure the persistence of links, bitly calculated the half life, which they defined as “the amount of time at which this link will receive half of the clicks it will ever receive after it’s reached its peak.”

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The half life of content

This study showed a few things. First, it appears that timely news events have a much shorter half life than content that is interesting all the time. As an example, bitly looked at a link containing a news article about an earthquake on the US East Coast and a link for pictures of an otter playing with kittens. The half life of the news article was five minutes while the half life for the animal-related article was 70 minutes.

However, bitly didn’t stop there. They theorized that the location where a link is shared plays part in the dynamics of the traffic is receives.

In order to determine the best location for link sharing, bitly looked at the half life of 1,000 bitly links.

The best places for sharing links

The results of bitly’s study showed that out of all social site, YouTube had the highest half life, which was 7.4 hours.

Direct sources, like email or instant message, was a distant second with 3.4 hours. Facebook experienced a half life of 3.2 hours, and Twitter rounded out the results with a half life of 2.8 hours.

At the end of the study, bitly shared its belief that “the lifespan of your link is connected more to what content it points to than on where you post it: on the social web it’s all about what you share, not where you share it!”


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