The graph above tells maybe the most interesting—and definitely the most surprising—story of the past year of digital media.
It shows two years of referrals from Facebook and Google to the Buzzfeed Partner Network, a collection of websites (including this one!) that share their traffic stats with Buzzfeed. It quantifies what so many publishers have experienced: a massive surge of traffic from Facebook, unparalleled in its regular, day-after-day size and scope.
Recently, Lady Gaga found herself getting attention she, for once, didn’t want. On her Twitter account, she announced a contest where the two fans who bought the most copies of her new single “Applause” would win a trip to London’s iTunes Festival to meet her. She also posted a link to a page allowing fans to watch the video for her latest song 150 times in a row. Both were part of Gaga’s attempt to push “Applause” higher up the Billboard Music Charts, which earlier this year started counting YouTube views to their ranking figures.
The people running the charts weren’t pleased. Billboard’s Editorial Director Bill Werde wrote on Twitter that “an artist tweeting out and facebooking a link that enables a fan to hit play and leave their computer is not in the spirit of what we chart,” adding “I just hate to see anyone try to game the charts.”