Whitney Houston news drives mobile visits

Whitney Houston’s death Saturday night took many people by surprise. Unlike other recent high-profile deaths, like those of Steve Jobs and Etta James, this news seemed to come from out of the blue.

AP was the first traditional organization to publish an alert with the news that night, and our editors quickly pushed their report out to our mobile users and across BreakingNews’ social channels.

Mobile traffic to the BreakingNews apps and mobile site exploded after we sent out our push alert. In total, we saw twice the number of mobile visits compared to desktop website visits on Saturday.

That first tweet we sent out had a link to AP’s report, which has been clicked on 119,000 times according to Twitter Analytics. It has been retweeted just under 7,300 times. According to Topsy Labs data, that link was the most retweeted article after the news broke, with 14,000 posts including it.

In total, we tweeted 11 updates on Saturday night with seven links pointing outward to news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post. Those links have generated a combined 290,000 clicks. We pushed out two more breaking updates on Sunday, including news that Houston’s daughter had been rushed to the hospital. That link to CBS News’ report has received nearly 54,000 clicks.

We can’t take all the credit for these high click-rates. Twitter Analytics only shows the total clicks on a link and doesn’t parse out the impact of individual tweets. But we’ve heard from several colleagues who’ve attributed their traffic spikes, in part, to our promotion of their content. And it’s worth noting that we’re only measuring Twitter clicks here, not clicks from Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, our website and mobile apps.

As we announced earlier this month, Breaking News is sending more than 100,000 referrals a day to news sites and social services. Our mission is to help time-crunched users navigate the sometimes confusing vortex of breaking news information. By distributing links, we serve users and reward content originators with traffic and a burst of social followers.

(Post by Lauren McCullough, @lfmccullough; Photo by Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images file)