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Early Popularity Predicts Long Term Popularity on YouTube, Digg

How popular is your new YouTube video going to be? Will your link make it to the front page of Digg? You may be able to estimate it after only 7 days and about 1 hour, respectively.

An article in the August 2010 issue of Communications of the ACM discusses research into whether you can predict the long-term popularity of content based on how popular it is when it’s fresh. The somewhat intuitive finding was that there appears to be a strong relationship between immediate performance and long-term performance.

Basically, if you don’t get a lot of diggs in the first hour (or so), or get a lot of views in the first 7 days, your Digg story or YouTube video probably never will. Freshness is important to Digg and YouTube, and this is the time period where they bubble new content up to people browsing for new content. After that window, content just gets buried.

The article ┬áby Gabor Szabo and Bernardo A. Huberman is a fascinating read, though it is a bit dense. I’d love to see this kind of work incorporated into YouTube’s reporting and extended to other areas of social media.

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