Friday, November 15, 2013

The Half-life of Links and What It Means for School Communications

I am currently reading Randy Krum’s new book, Cool Infographics (disclosure, he gave me a copy). This morning I came across an interesting statistic on page 151 in the book. According to research done by Bitly (a popular URL shortening and sharing service) the half-life of a link on Twitter and Facebook is 2.8 and 3.2 hours respectively. The half-life of a link refers to the amount of time it takes for a link to reach one-half of the number of clicks it will ever receive. Krum notes that those half-life statistics were calculated in 2011. Two years later far more people have joined Twitter and Facebook. In turn, the half-life of links posted today is likely shorter than it was two years ago.

Applications for Education
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with schools. If your school has a Twitter account, Facebook page, and or Google+ page then your school is ahead of many that don’t use social networks at all, but you could still be reaching more students and parents. If your school’s social media updates are only going out once per day, you’re probably not reaching as many students and parents as you could be. Think of it this way, when was the last time you scrolled twelve hours back in your Facebook timeline or in your Twitter feed? A solution is to post to social networks through a free service like Hootsuite. Hootsuite allows you to publish updates on a schedule to multiple social media accounts.

Guy Kawasaki, former chief product evangelist at Apple, repeats posts on Twitter four times per day using eight hour intervals. Schools could adopt a similar schedule for distributing announcements and reminders through social media. A good schedule for schools to update their social media accounts would be to publish an hour before school starts (7-9am), shortly after dismissal (2-4pm), shortly after supper time (6-8pm), and late night (10pm-12am).