The unbelievable Warren Buffett New York Times op-ed stats




It was quite a day for Warren Buffett and the New York Times.

(Big thanks to apfriedman for making this here photo available via Creative Commons)

Buckle your seat belts for lots of stats geekery. Even the honey badger makes an appearance in this one…

UPPPPDATE: We are now at 900k+ likes/shares/comments and tweets on the New York Times link. That doesn’t even take into account all the other media coverage. Just one link!

A lot of people do not know this but you can get social media stats for any link on the web.

Cool, huh?

First, the Facebook stats.

Just paste, “http://graph.facebook.com/” into the address bar with the link you want to look up pasted right after it. I dabble with it from time to time but Warren Buffett’s epic op-ed in the New York Times provided the much-needed inspiration to re-visit it.

So I plugged that link into the old Facebook wizard this afternoon annnnnd…

Poof! 283,940 shares.

Sweet fancy moses!!

By the time I tweeted my discovery around 3:40pm EST, it had already passed 300,000 shares.

At the time I started working on this blog post at 10:30pm EST..


It looks like it is still creeping up at about 1,000 shares a minute. Amazing!

Only those aren’t really “shares” like we probably think of them. They are actions. An analytics service called Bit.ly helps us break down what that number really means. Keep in mind that these numbers won’t add up because they are developing as I pen this.


Of those now 550,000+ actions:

Nearly 180,000 were shares.
Over 235,000 were likes.
Over 140,000 were comments.

To put in perspective how rare these numbers are, consider the killing of Osama Bin Laden. The total number of actions on the New York Times’ report of Bin Laden being killed: less than 150,000.


How about when TMZ broke the news of Michael Jackson’s death?


The mega news that broke today between Google and Motorola? Less than 15,000 Facebook actions on Google’s blog post announcing the deal.


And, what the hell, only for good measure, when I broke the Anheuser-Busch / Goose Island deal (site crashing and all)…


[edit: Wow. That really did happen.]

It is rare for one link that is actually of the “news/op-ed” variety to get this much traction because the media is stretched out across, what is probably, over one million sources around the globe.

So where are the Twitter stats?

Both Twitter’s version of the Facebook graph link and Bit.ly are reporting inaccurate (very tiny) numbers. I mean, three links on Bit.ly and 287 on Twitter? Seriously?

My best far-fetched guess is that Twitter, perhaps with Bit.ly’s help, is rolling out some kind of premium analytics service or something. Consider the ties between Twitter and Betaworks (Betaworks is a major investor in Bit.ly).

Thankfully, Twitter hasn’t shut off access to Topsy which reports over 44k references on Twitter. That number represents how many times the link was included in a unique tweet or a retweet.


Sure, these numbers may not seem that impressive compared to some of the hits that viral videos on Youtube get but that’s exactly what they are. Hits.

It’s apples and oranges.

The verdict, as far as I can tell, is still out as to whether Youtube sharing stats are being tracked accurately by these services.

The Honey Badger viral video (h/t to @theadam9) has 14 million hits on Youtube since Randall first posted it eight months ago.

Topsy reports 13k mentions on Twitter.

On the other hand, the Facebook graph link we’ve been using can’t seem to handle youtube links. It converts the honey badger unique link to “Youtube.com/watch.”

Bit.ly tells us that the Honey Badger has around 1.5 million actions which would be greater than a 10% ratio of Facebook actions (again… shares, likes, comments) to the original post. That is some insane engagement if that is accurate.

Still, that seems like an absurd number compared to how many times the video was shared on Twitter, right?

Or maybe Twitter really IS just that far behind in users seeing value in sharing videos on that service.

The key takeaway here? No matter your stance on the issues that Buffett raised, it is incredibly rare (I’ve never seen it before) for a news organization like The New York Times, in today’s digital media age, to get an exclusive as impactful as the one they got today.