Developing a community

2600 pageviews and counting!   It’s not what you’d call viral, but after three weeks online, our website birminghambudgetcuts.blogspot.com has developed a respectable following.

In order to find out who our users are and why they’re coming, I’m analyzing the site’s statistics on a daily basis and the results are interesting.

Driving traffic

The all-time top three referring urls and websites are:

More people visit our site from Wikipedia than anywhere else, I suspect because we added an external link to our site at the bottom of  the Wikipedia page for the UK Comprehensive Spending Review.  This probably also accounts for many of our overseas users in the United States and Canada as well as a healthy number of visitors from South Korea and Singapore.

Twitter, however, appears destined to take over Wikipedia as the number one referring site and url, and this is by no means a coincidence.   We’re actively using social media to engage the audience and promote the site through our Twitter account, Facebook page and YouTube channel.   Every time we publish new and noteworthy content to the website, we tweet @BrumBudgetCuts and this is now driving most of the traffic to the site.

Community Links

The number three referring url and website is the influential hyperlocal site createdinbirmingham, which links the artistic and creative communities.   Having websites link to you and linking to others is absolutely crucial when it comes to thriving online.   For example, we also benefitted this week from a link in an article about the Millbank student protest/riot in the left wing political blog Liberal Conspiracy.

Meet the users

Birmingham protestors in London

It’s not all high tech.  We’ve made a big effort to get out in the real world and meet working people, union leaders and students who will be affected by the budget cuts, to introduce ourselves, hear their stories and find out what they’re interested in reading on the site.  Not everyone spends inordinate amounts of time on the internet, particularly some rank and file union members and so I use a low tech outreach method by carrying out slips of paper with our details including url, twitter, fb etc.

Content is king

Social media, linking and SEO are all important tools to drive people to a website but it’s also important to remember that content is king.  We’re trying to break news with original stories that people care about and we need to do more because it’s working.

The stats indicate that the post with the most pageviews is an original data-based story that breaks down potential job losses geographically and by service roles ie. management versus seasonal employees.

In fact, two of the top five postings are original data journalism content and four of the top five deal directly with the bread and butter issue of potential job loss.

Important points to remember for planning future coverage.

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