Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmx DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Twitter kind of tells you if someone hasn't clicked on a link... which is a little bit creepy

My blog is a bit like Hugh Grant's character in About a Boy. I once wrote a post that was unusually popular (typically it was rustled up quite quickly as a minor observation about blocking on Twitter) and thanks to that my blog scores mildly higher in Google's esteem than it might otherwise. The post views are very 'long tail' with one vastly popular post, two or three tolerably well-viewed and everything else languishing ;)

I've also learned, from Google Analytics, that almost all of my traffic comes from Google searches and relatively little from Twitter. In fact I probably only post to Twitter between a third / half of the posts that I write as it doesn't make a huge deal of difference. Obviously I'll post this one to Twitter but chances are you'll have come across this by some other means.

Twitter Analytics has also confirmed this and links to my blog typically get somewhere between 0 and 20 hits with a few outliers that get more clicks (the one on catching a camera going off mid-flash did quite well) and even my most popular post on this blog doesn't do particularly well if shared on Twitter.

What I was surprised to notice though was that Twitter Analytics tells you if a link has had zero clicks and, of course, if you have sent the link to someone this rather suggests that they've not clicked on it.

I find that a tiny bit troubling: surely it's everyone's right to click or not click on links that people send without the sender being indirectly informed. Troubling's too strong a word perhaps.

There are several ways that a link might get clicked on
a) you send it to someone who sees it and clicks
b) you send it to someone and someone else following both of you sees it and clicks
c) someone looking at your timeline sees it and clicks
d) someone searching Twitter for a keyword sees the tweet and clicks

But if it's had 0 clicks (and was sent to someone) then it's reasonable to assume that they've not clicked on it (though they may recognise the URL and have previously seen it). This rather makes me want to click on every link every sent to me to avoid giving offence ;-)

Don't forget that if a link in an URL says it's been clicked once you've no idea of course who clicked it and if it was the person you've sent it to. In terms of privacy I think this is preferable, and a bit of me think that all Twitter Analytics links should report all links as having had '1 click'.

Anyway here are the links in my tweets that were clicked on a fair bit. Since the images are all wider than the blog window permits I'm afraid you'll have to click on them to enlarge.

175 clicks for a rather good comment pointing out that Ben Goldacre's a bit of a genius :)

124 clicks for David Arnold's concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 6 July - film music (Stargate, Independence Day, Bond films) and TV music (Sherlock) stuff, yippee :)

Note the two tweets which demonstrate that the number of clicks shown is cumulative. Were I to tweet that link now it would already be at 124 and any further increase in clicks would be added to all the tweets where this link appears, ie it's a total number.

I think it would be much more useful to know that a tweet sent at 10am garnered more clicks than one sent at 3pm rather than just giving a total. There are services (probably not free) that offer this sort of insight, probably businesses use it to find out when best to engage with their audience and not spammily annoy them.

50 clicks for this interesting post from my friend Guy on a most unpleasant situation that I was unfortunately involved in and very glad to see that it seems to be the end of it.

0 clicks. Here's a tweet I sent to myself (it's actually visible to ALL of my followers because they follow both me and the person ('me') to whom I sent the tweet). I sent it and then immediately captured this image from Twitter analytics before it was clicked on. Then I clicked on it (on my phone) and a few minutes later it showed that someone had clicked on it (doesn't prove it was me of course).

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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).