What happens when a post hits #1 on Hacker News? Here are my stats

My latest post about the Pipedrive story to 10,000 customers reached the top spot on Hacker News for a couple of hours. Here’s what followed numbers-wise.

The Hacker News effect

The post has been seen by 20,038 unique visitors to date, and counting. Counting in the sense that for nearly 3 weeks now, blog traffic has been 5-10 times greater than before.

I’m pleasantly surprised Hacker News traffic didn’t immediately die down and the site has sent a couple of dozen visitors per day ever since the post got published. Direct source has held up even better – I guess the link is making second and third rounds in various IM apps and gets found many an over-flooded inboxes.

Long tail traffic sources

Hacker News drove about 11,000 readers (47%) all in all, and that got many snowballs rolling. A further 35% of people got the link via IM or email aka “Direct”. 8% discovered my post via Twitter. The remaining 10% was split between more than 60 referrers where the “Hacker News effect” had trickled down; anything from mailing lists to RSS/”read later” apps to aggregator sites.

Traffic sources

More not-so-useful stats: according to SharedCount the post received 307 tweets, 47 FB shares, 184 LinkedIn interactions and 6 +1’s (the latter counts for appr. 70% of all Google+ users). So every tweet got me 6 readers and every FB share 2 readers. (Which cements my suspicion that optimizing for social shares is not very useful).

I also cross-posted to Medium some days later in spirit of experimenting, and several hundred more people have read the post there. I’m speculating that the total reach would have been bigger if I had skipped publishing on my blog and shared the Medium link on HackerNews as it’s a more trustworthy as well as faster site.

My medium stats

Any material benefits from the post? I hear you ask. Yes, nearly 2,900 people clicked through to Pipedrive.com and 48 have created a free trial account. I’ve also received a ton of positive feedback, a job offer, many hello’s from people I hadn’t talked to for a while and that feeling you get when your writing seems to resonate.

Bonus track. The “tricks” I used to rise to the top of Hacker News

I added the post to HN myself and pasted the link to 5 people. One of them turned out not to have an account, but he created one and upvoted nevertheless. Another (thanks, Jüri) replied back to me that upvoting a direct link is not kosher and that any upvotes should come via newest. (All this proves I’m a master content promoter.) Though I guess the  timing – noon’ish time in Europe, and it was deliberate – worked well because it’s probably more difficult to stand out once US starts adding their hacker-newsworthy links. Other than that I tweeted the post a couple of times and shared it on LinkedIn.

Pouring my heart into this post on a 10-hour flight and several evenings also helped. Guess there still is no better way to get traffic than to create decent content.

Discussion on Hacker News

2 comments

  1. Marta Wadsworth

    First: great job you’ve done there! Not only on creating good content but also in the turned out success. We have been trying similar strategies and it seems that everytime we think we find a “formula of success” and try to replicate it, it doesn’t work anymore 😉 we have tried also timing (for Europe and for US), sharing links, asking for upvotes and so on. However, it all comes down to the snowball of virality (wow) you mentioned. I couldn’t agree more with your conclusion on the importance of quality content to generate the desired traffic (or other outcome). After all this, a question remains: do you think there is something (other than quality content) that can be controled, in order to help others grow their traffic like you did? Any tips?

    • Andrus

      Great question, Marta! Other than producing great content I’ve found it useful to spend considerable time on tweaking the headline. In my Pipedrive life building an email/newsletter list has considerably helped to grow the number of shares as well as writing influencers into content pieces and reach out to them separately. But I have found no silver bullets – which is not necessarily a bad thing.

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