How a TV Show Spreads News Through Social Media

The fun thing about using bit.ly as a link shortener is anyone can add “+” to the end of the short URL and access data about it.

For example, yesterday the CBS show “How I Met Your Mother” put out word that it had launched a mobile-friendly Web site.  I first saw it in my Twitter stream last night:

@HIMYM_CBS: Now you can get #HIMYM on your phone! Trivia, clips, cast tweets & more! http://bit.ly/gBWFwS

It was tweeted at about 8 p.m. Tuesday, 2/22/11.  The show has 43,999 followers (oh, just one shy of 44,000!).

How I Met Your Mother Mobile SiteSo take the http://bit.ly/gBWFwS URL and add a “+” to get: http://bit.ly/gBWFwS+

Now you can see all sorts of interesting information, such as how many clicks the link has received, which sources are referring traffic and where uses are located.

So this shows 8,704 clicks on that bit.ly link in about 12 hours. Top traffic referrers are:

Referring Site Click(s)
www.facebook.com 4,253
Email Clients, IM, AIR Apps, and Direct 3,149
m.facebook.com 729
touch.facebook.com 298
twitter.com 150
m.cbs.com 71
mobile.twitter.com 11

So now we know Twitter is not driving very much traffic to the HIMYM mobile page through this link, but Facebook is.  A check of their Facebook page shows 10,293,960 fans (people who pressed the “like” button) and growing by the minute.  The bit.ly link for the mobile site was posted on the show’s Facebook wall at about the same time as the Twitter tweet.  So far, 1,561 people have pressed the “like” button on the post announcing the show’s mobile site.

Bit.ly also shows us it has picked up on five re-tweets – Twitter users who forwarded the message to their own followers.

Another interesting tidbit is the bit.ly “Locations” tab show only about a third of the clicks to the mobile site are coming from the U.S. (2,883 out of 8,704).  The next biggest sources of clicks are Germany (985), Canada (583), Australia (538), United Kingdom (392) and France (312).  It would be interesting to know whether the mobile site is even accessible to foreign users or whether the show’s distribution license prevents that.

Most of the comments on the Facebook post are typical fan chatter about the show, but a few relate to the announcement:

  • But still no decent iPad app? C’mon guys–even abc has an iPad app.
  • Here’s a thought….stop sending the texts at 1:30 AM!!! Trying to figure out how to unsubscribe.
  • Not available on your device. I’m assuming this is an iPhone app?

That last comment suggests to me there is still confusion on the part of consumers between apps and the mobile Web.

So while using bit.ly is a fast and cheap way to crunch lengthy URLs to micro-blogging size, keep in mind that it exposes click data to the Web.

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