This Friday, 20th November 2015, Twitter will be retiring the share count figure on their buttons along with the associated API used to retrieve it. This means after Friday it will not be easy to see the number of times an article has been shared on Twitter. We know many of our users value this count, so we have been working on a new way of calculating and providing the number of Twitter shares.
Introducing the BuzzSumo Chrome Extension
We suspect many people will not be aware of the change and come Monday there may be many asking “where do I find my Twitter share count?” or “how can I see how many people shared my post on Twitter?”.
In order to assist we have developed a BuzzSumo Chrome extension that people can install which will show the share data, including the number of Twitter sharers, for any web page. You can download and install the extension here.
Are Twitter Shares Important?
We believe that Twitter shares, like other social shares, are important. If a thousand people have shared an article it indicates that the article has more value and relevance than an article that has been shared by say just five people.
We accept that Twitter share counts can be inflated by bots and by multiple sharing. There is also no guarantee that someone sharing a post has actually read it. That said we still believe there is value in having Twitter share counts as they are one indicator of social proof and value. They can be combined with other data to provide a more comprehensive view but social shares are an important element within any assessment.
This is a view shared by Facebook. The Facebook News Feed uses likes and shares as part of their algorithm to determine relevant content. According to Will Cathcart, Facebook News Feed Director, the ‘most powerful determinants of whether a post is shown in the feed’ include:
- How popular (Liked, commented on, shared, clicked) the post creator’s past posts are
- How popular the current post is with everyone who has already seen it
The Retiring Twitter Share Count Was Not Perfect
Whilst we are sad to see it retired, we accept the previous Twitter share count was not perfect. There were some issues of accuracy that have been acknowledged by Twitter. It appears that links were not always resolved back to the canonical url which meant not all shares were counted or rather they were not added together for an article.
Twitter have also outlined some the technical issues with maintaining the share count API in their article here.
Calculating Twitter Share Counts In Future
From 20th November there will no longer be an easy way to access share count data. It is possible to buy data from Gnip (Twitter’s data arm) using their 30 day feed, and consume a stream of tweets, but a lot of work is still required to filter and calculate the number of shares for articles.
We now purchase Gnip data and run filters on this data to identify content shares and sharers. We are using this share data, combined with data from other sources, to update our current database of Twitter shares. This enables us to provide an ongoing count of Twitter shares for articles. For our Pro customers we will also provide details on the Twitter sharers. The good news is that our new approach has improved and enhanced our sharer data.
Due to the costs of collecting Twitter share counts, both in time and data fees, we are restricting the frequency of our updates. Our data shows that the majority of Twitter shares take place in the first three days after publication. Thus we will regularly update Twitter share counts during this period. After this period we will only update the Twitter share counts periodically. This means after the first three days of publication, our count may understate shares between updates. We are still working on the frequency of updates which will depend upon the popularity of the article on Twitter i.e. we will update popular articles with lots of shares more frequently.
For those domains that would like their Twitter share counts to be updated constantly, we can provide this service for a monthly fee that will cover buying, processing and storing the data from Gnip. For further information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.