WordPress vs. Hootsuite: When the Stats Disagree

One of the first things Rich, Randolph Sterling’s founder and CEO, asked me when I was hired as the company’s social media intern last summer was whether there was a way for us to track our success. In other words, did he spend his flight from Chicago to Raleigh or Raleigh to Chicago writing a blog post that might as well have been scribbled on the back of a napkin and thrown out when he landed, or did he do something constructive with his time that others would appreciate and find helpful, something that might even lead them to consider paying for greater access to his expertise.

The answer I had back in July was that I did not know of a way to count how many people clicked on one of our tiny urls through Twitter, but I could still keep track of how popular our WordPress blogs were. And, at that time, that was fine. Then I found HootSuite, a Twitter management tool that allowed me to not only schedule tweets, but know how many people clicked on a given link. It was a dream come true.  Then, when HootSuite added a feature that allowed me to simultaneously schedule tweets and Facebook status updates, the dream only got better.

However, something I barely realized at first was that the numbers I was getting from HootSuite for clicks on links to our WordPress blogs were inconsistent with the numbers I was getting from WordPress for the number of views on a given day or for a given post. Initially I dismissed this thinking that maybe there was a minor bug or that HootSuite had counted my own clicks while WordPress did not. But then the discrepancies became more pronounced. I’d log into the HootSuite account and get excited when I saw we had fifty clicks on two or three of our blog posts in less than a day, and joyfully head over to our WordPress account, only to be crushed when I found out that, according to WordPress, we had significantly fewer visitors than what HootSuite had led me to believe. This troubled me for awhile, not only because I knew that Rich logged into our WordPress account on occasion while never going near the more generous HootSuite account, but because to me this was a real problem. In my mind one of the statistical tools I had come to rely on was being dishonest, but which one, and, more importantly, why?

As I would later find out, neither one was being dishonest per se. What was happening was that for one reason or another WordPress does not register clicks from HootSuite, which meant that the numbers from HootSuite were accurate, as were the ones from WordPress, and basic addition could give me our final number in the future (or, as I may be inclined to do, I could continue using HootSuite to schedule Tweets, while using the Shortlink feature to shorten our blog links). And, as it turns out, this is a relatively common problem, and the people at WordPress are working to fix it. But the question remains, what about our Digg, Reddit, and Constant Contact links?

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for digging into this interesting conundrum. We keep working with WordPress to continually get better, smoother and groovier.

    • Thank you for your feedback. If anything new comes up or changes, please tell us.

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