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New York Times on Twitter: “The Conversation begins here”. And ends here it would seem.

Looking back over the last 24 hours, the New York Times Twitter account has Tweeted around 56 stories. An examination of the click through rates on these stories (which you can see for yourself by simply appending a ‘+” sign to any link as the NYTimes is using a customised domain) shows that each story typically gets between 200 – 400 click throughs. Even being generous and assuming that each story gets a unique set of people clicking through, that suggests that, at best, Twitter generates around 22,400 click throughs to the site per day.

Even the “conversation” around NY Times stories on Twitter doesn’t seem too lively. The number of Retweets of each story is low, rarely getting into double figures.

According to Google Ad Planner, the New York Times site gets around 170 million visits per month and around 650 million page views. Based on the above analysis, Twitter based traffic is accounting at best for around 660,000 of those visits.

Clearly, 660,000 visits for most people would be a stonking triumph – and it could be that visits from Twitter result in people who spend longer on the site and read more content. But it suggests that the bulk of NY Times traffic is coming either directly or via search.

Of course, the overhead of running a broadcast style Twitter account for the NY Times is trivial. So perhaps in that context, the click through rates should be judged a raging success.

Then again, given the recent E-Consultancy survey which showed that most businesses are spending next to nothing on social media, you wonder if the NY Times experience is a possible explanation – namely, if the NY Times – with 2.7 million followers – finds it hard to get more than few hundred people to click on a link, what hope do we have?

What do you think?

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