Image: Hilary Mason
How long do links on the Web live? URL shortening service Bit.ly charted the average lifespan of 1,000 popular links on its website and found that most links shared online don't live very long. Indeed, people stop clicking them after about 3 hours (if a news-related link, then after just 5 minutes):
The research found that links across all genres, from comedy to news, follow the same pattern, receiving an initial burst of attention, which quickly peaks, and then the link essentially dies. [...]
Hilary Mason, Bit.ly’s lead scientist, found that links have different lifespans if they are posted on Facebook and Twitter or sent through e-mail or chat clients. After analyzing 1,000 popular links shared on bit.ly, Ms. Mason discovered that the average half life of a link on Twitter is 2.8 hours. On Facebook it’s 3.2 hours, and for e-mail and messenger services it’s 3.4 hours. This means a link gets an extra 24 minutes of life on Facebook compared to Twitter.
But not all links are created equal, as Ms. Mason notes. Links shared from YouTube hit their half life after 7.4 hours. “As clickers, we remain interested in links on YouTube for a much longer period of time,” Ms. Mason writes.