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Using web metrics to judge online success

Discussion in 'Online Journalism' started by MonsterLobster, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. I started this discussion on the "Dear idiot on the phone" thread, but I figured this was a better place for it.

    Do any of you follow your web metrics closely? Has anyone at a newspaper - not a specifically hits-driven, online-only outlet - figured out any interesting ways to use that data?

    I mostly cover preps, and I have a lot of interest in new media and web metrics, so I can tell you which schools in my coverage area generally get the most reads on the blog and in regular stories and which sports/schools/subjects get the most video views. But with shaping coverage based on that (for instance, cutting down on volleyball coverage due to lack of online hits) mostly out of the question, I have yet to think up many ways to use this information other than making predictions about what posts will be popular.

    I'll share some stats and info, so feel free to add to the discussion with your findings. Hopefully there are a few of you out there as interested in this area of journalism as I am.

    For some scale, my paper is a seven-day daily with about 35,000 circulation.

    Blog: A recent company-wide web overhaul has left it difficult to track unique monthly viewers on my blog, but I took it from about 50 per month a year and half ago to an average of about 4,000-5,000 last fall and as high as about 7,000 around national signing day in February. I feel like this has been a major, major success.

    Video: Game highlight videos seem to get the fewest hits of the videos I produce. Simple game preview interviews and recruiting interviews tend to get the most views. I also have found that, at least with football, the worse a team is, the more views their videos will have. For instance, a team coming off an 0-10 season's 2011 preview video had about 100 views in four days while a video interview with one of the nation's top-ranked football recruits has had fewer than half of that in the same amount of time despite my plugging it online with all the relevant recruiting schools' hashtags.

    Twitter: It took me almost a year to hit 100 followers, but I then quickly shot up to 245, where I've been stuck all summer. It seems hard to get a gauge on what is a good number for a preps reporter to have. I have five or six followers who I exchange with frequently, but it seems to be mostly a place to get some headlines/links and important scores for most of my followers. Anyone have much success engaging more readers? What was your method?

    Facebook: I had someone suggest me to their thousands of friends, so I have something like 400 Facebook friends, nearly all of whom are local and most of whom are either high school-age athletes or their parents. I have used the account to contact a few coaches/athletes when they couldn't be reached by phone, but even linking to stories or putting up comments has not seemed to have much of an impact. Anyone had success developing a more active Facebook following?

    Google+: I have come up with an idea to use the hangouts like a live chat on football Fridays this fall. Someone at the office will have the page open and I'm going to encourage readers to pop on there at halftime via their phones and post scores or comments from their games. No idea how good or bad this will go.

    CoveritLive: I used this in a couple ways last year, but none yielded the results I had hoped for. I tried having some chats about high school sports (announcement of all-area team, preview to big game, before signing day, etc.), but few people came and even fewer stuck around after their one or two questions got answered. I think the biggest struggle is when to hold a preps-themed chat. Any time between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. and most of the athletes themselves are in school and at practice, and any later and no one is going to want to get online. I also tried chats at midnight after football Fridays hoping people would come to recap some games and discuss what went on that night, but few people came and again usually left once they got the one or two scores they were looking for. So what's the secret to successful prep chats other than doing them live in-game?

    Your turn, SportsJournalists.com.
  2. Simon

    Simon Active Member

    I find in our website hits that page positioning has a lot to do with what gets hits.

    For example, our blogs are hidden ALL the way at the bottom of the main page and there is no other entry point to the blog. No teases, no buttons, nothing. Thus, I don't blog very much and even when I do blog it doesn't get read very much. It's a flawed design in our website.

    Anything that gets a lot of hits is usually above the fold of our website. I really haven't tried to attack getting more hits using twitter or facebook.

    We've had great success with Cover It Live with mostly larger events such as state tournaments and out of town football games where a large number of people aren't going to travel.
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