Clickbacks: The True Indicator of Virality


ADOTAS – One of the biggest challenges publishers face is the dissemination of their content across the social web. Consumers used to get all of their news and information from a handful of trusted media sources. Nowadays, people can get sports updates, local news, celebrity gossip, technology announcements and political commentary all from their social news feed. What makes this method of content discovery interesting and unique is that it’s all curated and delivered by an individual’s trusted friends, family and colleagues.

How is this affecting publishers? Now publishers’ immediate challenge is to enable and encourage content to be freely shared through the many social channels available, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and others. This content marketing transformation has shifted our previous success metric of distribution to what everyone now calls “virality.”

Virality is an effectiveness measure for the number of clickbacks on a shared piece of content. We know simply including a Facebook “Like” or “Recommend” button is extremely limiting when today’s digital consumers prefer sharing across multiple social channels. While all publishers want their content to “go viral,” what do they need to know to make this happen? Oftentimes publishers incorrectly judge viral performance solely on the total share volume. In their minds, 1,000 Facebook shares per day is considered a “win” and far more valuable than the 500 Tweets and 200 shares on Tumblr they received. What they fail to realize is that the smaller number of tweets and Tumblr shares generated more clickbacks than the posts on Facebook.

What publishers should be doing is determining how to increase two variables: the volume of user sharing, and the percentage of clicks that drive new users back to their website. After all, clickbacks are the true indicator for virality.


There are several important factors affecting these variables, including:

the types of content that gets shared and clicked on most,

the channels being used, and

from where the majority of clickbacks are coming.

Based on first-party data my company, RadiumOne, collected this year, we found that certain content categories like technology, news, and entertainment have higher virality than others, including travel and business. The time lapse between shares and clickbacks is short on Facebook and StumbleUpon and longer on Gmail and blogging platforms.

We also learned something less obvious: The social channels where content is shared also have varying levels of virality. Shares on open web platforms including Reddit, Twitter and Tumblr generated a higher percentage of clickbacks than on Facebook, LinkedIn or email.

This particular insight is where a huge misconception lies. Publishers focus most of their attention on driving share volume on Facebook. A/B testing on comScore’s top 1,000 websites reveals a Facebook “Like” or “Recommend” button limits new user acquisition and page views. Why? Today’s digital consumers share across multiple social channels and with closer contacts rather than an entire network or friend list. Content marketers who don’t display less common but effective sharing channel buttons are leaving valuable clickbacks on the table (free users!).


The key takeaway: Maximum marketing results reward publishers who provide a multi-network sharing solution to drive clickbacks—the true indicator of virality.


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