In today’s New York Times piece on Tumblr, former Newsweek editor Mark Coatney was cited on a figure that made the start-up blogging platform’s reach seem somewhat meager. According to the piece, Mr. Coatney– who was recently hired to help mainstream media outlets establish themselves on Tumblr– estimated that when he was overseeing Newsweek’s social media presence, he’d count just 1,000 inbound referrals from Tumblr per day for every 200,000 to 300,000 he’d see from Twitter and Facebook. The numbers made Tumblr user– and former Observer editor!– Jake Brooks wince:
Ooph! Tough numbers in an [otherwise] positive write-up in the NYT about old media adopting Tumblr. How did Coatney segue from his gig manning the Newsweek Tumblr into a gig as Tumblr’s “media evangelist” if his links to Newsweek content only drove 1,000 visitors to Newsweek.com? It’s a good question and one Coatney is going to be spending most of his days answering to the media outlets he evangelizes.
Turns out Newsweek’s Tumblr numbers weren’t as bad as they originally looked: in a post to his personal Tumblr this morning, Mr. Coatney clarified that some “wires crossed in the Times reporting,” and that in fact, Twitter and Facebook were giving Newsweek those hundreds of thousands of referrals every month, not every day. “The Twitter/FB numbers are monthly; the Tumblr numbers are daily,” Mr. Coatney wrote. “For a straight comparison, should be 30,000 or so/month for Tumblr.” The Times piece was corrected online to reflected that at some point today.
Mr. Coatney added that the “level of engagement” from people who came to Newsweek.com through Tumblr was, relatively speaking, much higher than it was for people who came there from elsewhere. “Newsweek has 100x the numbers of followers on Twitter as it does on Tumblr, but was getting 10x more engagement from those Tumblr followers,” he wrote.
What does “more engagement” mean?
Mr. Coatney explained in an email: “Typically on Tumblr Newsweek saw a lot of engagement on the dashboard end– a good amount of likes, reblogs, etc.– and a higher percentage of people who saw Newsweek’s content on Tumblr came back to Newsweek’s site than happened on Twitter,” he wrote. “Say that for every 100 followers on Twitter, Newsweek would typically get one link/day back from Twitter, whereas [it] was more like one link back for every 10 followers on Tumblr.”
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