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Posts tagged with ‘data’
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Announcing our Moz partnership

At Bitly, we’re always working to empower people to make better decisions by providing insight into the connected world. Our commitment to this statement is why we’re constantly thinking of new and innovative ways to help brands, publishers, agencies and users utilize our data.

We’re excited to announce our partnership with Moz, the industry’s most popular provider of search engine and social optimization software. Moz has chosen us to provide comprehensive click tracking data to discover, score and display inbound links from across the internet. Our data will allow Moz customers to have a clear and complete understanding of who is linking to any website and how relevant or valuable those links are for the brand based on the number and frequency of the clicks.

We have a unique view of how links are shared across the internet, and our differentiated dataset can help all marketers make better decisions. We’re excited to put this into action with Moz so their clients can better understand how content is shared across the web.


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What does it mean to be a celebrity on the internet?

It’s easy to claim that celebrities are a little different than the rest of us - including how they are covered on the internet.

In the past, we’ve measured the way bitly links perform over time and discovered that the majority of bitly links follow a pattern. In this pattern, the number of clicks on a bitly link quickly increases until it reaches its peak and then that number drops exponentially over a certain time frame. While analyzing our Story API, our science intern Tobias noticed something different - although we expected them to behave in the same way, there were certain ‘stories’ that followed their own pattern and continuously attracted attention.

These are stories revolving around a celebrity.

bitly celebrities, taylor swift, obama, ronaldo

What is a story?

We cluster popular content (based on keywords pulled from the content) to create what we call ‘stories.’ Stories are generated by commonalities - in this case, we categorized stories by links that share the same keyword.

We recorded the top 500 stories from January 2013-July 2013 that consistently generated more attention than the average story. The majority of the list included stories around commonly used words; stories about ‘women,’ ‘New York City’ and ‘Instagram’ all attracted a high level of attention.

We noticed this list also included a handful of public figures. These celebrities are the most talked about people on Bitly from January-July of this year.

What does it take to be a celebrity?

The top stories list is constantly changing. This list could change drastically by season (baseball players are talked about more in September than February), by recent or upcoming events (Hollywood actors might make the list around award season or the release of a new movie), or by day, based on breaking news.

Factors like location and language can also affect a person’s chances of making it into the most popular 500 stories at any given time. Political figures well-known in their own country might not have the staying power outside of it, while certain pop stars might transcend location or language barriers.

Taking this into account, being in the top 500 clicked stories on Bitly at all - despite location, language or season - would be an achievement. This small group of people managed to achieve more than that; they consistently attracted more attention than the average story on bitly not just for a day or two, but for nearly six months.

What gives the members of this list staying power? It’s those with the greatest media presence - they’re frequently recognized and talked about, whether it is for their talent, their title, their infamy, or a mixture of the three.

Who is a celebrity?

We found President Obama is the most talked about person in the Bitlyverse. This means that out of the top 500 stories from January-June 2013, a story about ‘Obama’ attracts more attention on Bitly than any other public figure.  

What are some other stories that attracted more attention than average? Stories about ‘Twitter,’ ‘Manchester United’ and ‘Google’ also performed higher than average every day throughout the time period.

Here are some more of the top figures who maintain a constant news presence - they are the most talked about people on Bitly for 2013 so far.

#1. Obama

#2. Justin Bieber

#3. Rihanna

#4. Mourinho

#5. One Direction

#6. Kardashian

#7. Beyonce

#8. Taylor Swift

#9. Ronaldo

#10. Neymar

#11. Selena Gomez

#12. Chris Brown

#13. Miley Cyrus

#14. Harry Styles

#15. Jay-Z

There are some interesting initial observations we noticed after briefly looking at this list. The overwhelming majority of the list are young, American pop stars. These people attract a considerable amount of attention because they live their lives in the public eye - including information about their relationships. Many of these people have publicly revealed they have been or are in relationships - Jay-Z and Beyonce, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, etc. These relationships could amplify the media presence of the celebrities on this list, who already attract a considerable amount of attention on their own.

Although the majority of the people on the list are American, a few big names in soccer popped up; current Chelsea manager José Mourinho, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and FC Barcelona forward Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior. With soccer being the most popular international sport, this was a nice representation of our international community and a reminder that Bitly is heavily used outside of the United States. 

This post brought to you by the bitly science team! Questions or comments? Email us.

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How People Use Social Networks Around The World

It’s easy to forget what the world looks like from outside your own country, and it can often look quite different. At bitly, we’re reminded of this every day: we see traffic from over 220 countries, with the US accounting for roughly a third of the total. In this country, most of the social sharing happens on facebook and twitter, but what about in the rest of the world?

We answered this question the only way we know how: with data! First, we picked the 16 most popular social networks from around the world. We sampled our data twice per month in 2012, then counted up how many clicks came from each country and social network. Adding all this up gave us a bitly-wide breakdown of the social network traffic we see. Finally, for each country, we scored each social network by the proportion of traffic it represented compared to the proportion bitly-wide. For example, if 10% of country A’s traffic came from a given social network compared to 1% for bitly as a whole, it got a score of 1. If it was only 0.1% vs. 1% for bitly, then it got a score of -1. So positive scores mean that network is more popular in that country than average, and negative means less so.

We chose this scoring since it kept the giants in the room from swamping out signals from the smaller social networks. Given that, we expected to see smaller, foreign networks to be popular in their home countries. Indeed, we see Odnoklassniki and VK are very popular in Russian-speaking Russia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Belarus; Mixi and Ameba are popular in Japan; and Douban, QQ, Renren, and Weibo are popular in China.

On the other hand, there were some surprises. For example, Hong Kong and Taiwan showed very little usage of some Chinese social networks. Not all former Soviet states or Russian-speaking countries showed strong usage of the Russian ones. Tumblr is surprisingly popular in South Korea. Mongolians love Youtube. LinkedIn and Google+ are impressively popular in Iran.

We encourage you to explore the data in our interactive visualization.

We’re all separated by only a few degrees, and the internet makes those degrees super easy to traverse. But when the degrees span nations, it’s hard to remember to try. We’re offering this little reminder. We hope you’ll enjoy exploring the world’s social network use with us.

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Device Usage on the Social Web

We use our phones differently than our laptops, and our tablets differently than our gaming devices. We decided to take a deep look into the bitly data to figure out exactly how differently, and we found some surprises!

We analyzed the bitly data for the entire year of 2011 to understand how people use different hardware devices, and how this changes the way that people consume information. We looked at two types of data, the raw numbers and the use percentages (to make different platforms with wildly varying usage levels easy to compare). Web browsers were still the primary tool for accessing online content, followed by smart phones, tablets and gaming machines.

How are bitly links used across different platforms?

Desktop computers are most heavily used on weekdays before noon. Phone traffic peaks at roughly the same time. Tablets are most used at Tuesday at 5pm. Gaming devices (Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Playstation), Thursday at 5pm.

One of the most interesting patterns is the peak, small valley and then another peak that both phones and tablets exhibit. The second peak is roughly at the same level Monday through Thursday, but drops off on Friday and doesn’t appear on the weekends.  This pattern is shifted over for tablets, with the second peak occurring later in the evening. This reflects the aggregate behavior patterns with these devices, showing us when the world is sleeping, eating, and taking a mid-afternoon coffee break.

Which platforms have similar usage patterns?

In the above plot, similar behavior is colored white; very different behavior is colored dark blue. From this plot we can see three surprising insights:

  • Windows and Linux users behave similarly on the social web! Geeks aren’t that different from the rest of the world. :)
  • Mac OS X is used more like a mobile device than either Windows or Linux on the desktop.
  • The Kindle is used in a very different manner to engage with the social web. We find that the majority of Kindle usage is much later in the evening than other devices.

From this data, we can say that device should definitely be a consideration when you create and share content on the social web. Think carefully about the physical context of how people will read your content! If you’re making a tablet application, make sure you test it with someone late at night lying in bed, and if you’re making an early-morning newsletter, you know exactly what time and device to target it at.

This post lovingly crafted by the bitly science team.

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SOPA and PIPA on the social web - right now!

The social web is exploding with SOPA and PIPA related content today! We’re seeing nearly ten clicks per second on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Stop the Internet Blacklist Legislation”, over two clicks per second on SOPA related web pages, and almost 1 click a second on PIPA related web pages.
The top few most popular pages, of over the 12400 current URLs we’re seeing people share on SOPA and PIPA, include:

And here is a time series plot that shows how the social web woke up today and clicked on shared links about SOPA and PIPA:

The red line is SOPA and the blue line is PIPA. The x-axis here is time (in UTC; add 5 to get EST and 8 to get PST) and the y-axis shows clicks per second every half an hour.
Here at bitly we’re excited to see this important message propagating quickly, even if the wikipedia blackout means we cannot brain today
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You just shared a link. How long will people pay attention?

How long is a link “alive” before people stop caring? Does it matter what kind of content it is, or where you shared it? At bitly we see a lot of links, and while every link is special, we’re learning a few general principles that we can share.

Let’s take a look at one particular story - Baby otter befriended by orphaned kittens - which was first shared by StylistMagazine on Facebook on Tuesday at 7:12am.  If we plot clicks over time for this link, we see:

Rate of clicks per 10 minutes on “Baby otter befriended by orphaned kittens

We can evaluate the persistence of the link by calculating what we’re calling the half life: the amount of time at which this link will receive half of the clicks it will ever receive after it’s reached its peak. For this link the half life was 70 minutes, which captures all the clicks between the grey lines on the graph above.

Let’s look at a second link - East Coast earthquake: 5.8 magnitude epicenter hits Virginia - , this one first shared by the Washington Post on Twitter.

Rate of clicks per minute on “East Coast earthquake: 5.8 magnitude epicenter hits Virginia

While the exact details of the traffic are a little different, and the scale of the traffic to this link is much larger, we see essentially the same pattern: a fast rise, and a more relaxed drop-off. Noticeably though this link a half life of only 5 minutes: after 5 minutes this link had seen half of the clicks it would ever see.

This link is associated with a very timely event (an earthquake on the US East Coast) as opposed to the previous link (pictures of otters and kittens are clearly interesting all the time). We think that this difference in content drives the difference in dynamics of these two links. However, one alternative theory that comes up again and again is that the dynamics of the link traffic depend on where the link is posted: do links posted on facebook last longer than they do on twitter?

So we looked at the half life of 1,000 popular bitly links and the results were surprisingly similar. The mean half life of a link on twitter is 2.8 hours, on facebook it’s 3.2 hours and via ‘direct’ sources (like email or IM clients) it’s 3.4 hours. So you can expect, on average, an extra 24 minutes of attention if you post on facebook than if you post on twitter.

Distribution of half-lifes over four different referrer types. Facebook, twitter and direct link (links shared via email, instant messengers etc.) half lifes follow a strikingly similar distribution.

Not all social sites follow this pattern. The surprise in the graph above is links that originate from youtube: these links have a half life of 7.4 hours! As clickers, we remain interested in links on youtube for a much longer period of time. You can see this dramatic difference between youtube and the other platforms for sharing links in the image above.

The graph shows the distribution of half lifes for each referrer. So we’d expect to see link half lifes of less than 20K seconds (5.5 hours) for facebook, twitter and links shared directly, and we’d be very surprised to see any link maintain significant traffic for a lot longer than 60K seconds (16 hours). But for youtube, we’d be a little surprised to see half lifes of less than 5 hours!

In general, the half life of a bitly link is about 3 hours, unless you publish your links on youtube, where you can expect about 7 hours worth of attention. Many links last a lot less than 2 hours; other more sticky links last longer than 11 hours over all the referrers. This leads us to believe 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!

This post brought to you by the bitly science team! Questions or comments? Email us.