The Guardian and Social Reader

One of the more interesting trends to which I’m trying to better understand is the trend away from search-driven referrals to news sites and an simultaneous increase in social-driven referrals.

This morning I had a chance to read the speech that Tanya Cordrey, director of digital development, Guardian News & Media, gave recently at the Guardian Changing Media Summit in London.

She was speaking about the positive effect that The Guardian’s Facebook app launch in September 2011 has had on its audience numbers.

At the time of the launch, Cordrey said, “search represented 40% of the Guardian’s traffic and social represented just 2%.”

  • 4 million people installed the app during the first two months.
  • Another 4 million installed the app over the subsequent four months, for a total of 8 million installs.
  • Of those 8 million installs, an average of 1 million people use the app each week.
  • At least during the first two months, the app was generating 7 million page views per week. (It’s not clear how those page views are counted. We don’t know whether that’s 7-million single-page visits or 1 million seven-page visits. Overall, gets 1.5 page views per visitor each week. The Facebook post also calls the page views from the app “extra” page views, but to prove that we’d need to look at the overall site traffic for The Guardian to see if its bottom-line traffic numbers were up by at least a million. Some might argue that Facebook “cannibalizes” other readership, similar to arguments that online cannibalized print audience. Frankly, to me that distinction matters little as I’d rather eat myself than have someone else eat me. )

Cordrey noted that it was not just the app that was driving social traffic. She said that during the previous six months there were 1.3M average weekly visits to The Guardian that started with a click from Facebook.

See also said that “Facebook drove more traffic to than Google for a number of days, accounting for more than 30% of our referrer traffic,” but be sure to look at the helpful graphic for details of this opaque statement. Note that the claim is backed by a spike in Facebook referrals for a short period of time, as well as a general upward trend of FB referals and downtrend of SEO that is years long. It looks to me like Facebook accounts for about 15 percent of visits to the site.

That’s 15 percent from Facebook alone. Six months ago, traffic from all social media was just 2 percent.

Cordrey also said that “the largest group of users for the Guardian Facebook app are between 18-24”. During the first two months, “over half” of the app users were under 24.

Two other comments that caught my eye:

  • “Content is much more likely to go viral on Facebook when users actively comment on and recommend content rather than just passively reading an article.”
  • “Only a small percentage of people have chosen to [remove a read item from their newsfeed] since we launched.”

Triple Filtered? That’s Smirnoff Ice. This Is Only a Double Filter.

First of all, I don’t even want to talk to you about this post’s headline. Unless you’re my therapist or in need of SEO consulting.

But I do want to bring you another attempt at headlines I’ve culled from my tech/social filters… and yet still don’t have time to read. Mashable and Romenesko still caught my eye the most this morning, but TechPresident and the PBS/Knight Foundation MediaShift IdeaLab (or whatever that very good site should be called) also added some variety to the mix.

So, without further ado. I filter these to you. Please filter them back to me.
Continue reading “Triple Filtered? That’s Smirnoff Ice. This Is Only a Double Filter.”

Newsroom-Classroom Panel at ONA: A Bridge to Nowhere?

As yesterday’s Online News Association conference panel about collaboration between universities and newsrooms drew to a close, it was becoming clear that intellectual transactions were just waiting to be made, that a new marketplace must be created. The room had decided that the news biz did indeed have problems and that the academy just might be stocked with the resources needed to solve them.

The only thing standing in the way of better collaboration had been the difficulty so far in matching the problems with the resources. We would need to create a of journalism innovation, I said, where newsroom leaders could submit RFPs and where educators could post the research and technical resources of their students.

So with 10 minutes left in the panel, I whipped open a Word document and projected it on the screen at the front of the room. I was ready to start brainstorming right there and begin making a quick list of research questions and innovation projects. Oh, the excitement of a panel discussion that would be more than just talk! The bridges that would be built!

But then we hit just one small snag. Of the hundred or so people in the room, about 90 percent were from the classroom. Somehow, on an otherwise unremarkable Friday afternoon in Washington, the Statler conference room at the Capital Hilton had transformed in to an ivory tower. We had built a bridge to nowhere.

Continue reading “Newsroom-Classroom Panel at ONA: A Bridge to Nowhere?”

Your Assignment for Today Is …

I’m speaking today at two seminars at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication: the Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education and Media and the Institute for Midcareer Copy Editors. For a white guy who can’t spell, this is an intimidating day.

Thinking about what to say to these groups, I began to think about how important it is for each journalist who lives in a world of accuracy and accountability to personally venture in to the uncertain waters of online social networks and user-generated content. Among other things, it is a journalist’s job to give voice to the voiceless and to hold powerful people accountable. Wikipedia and Facebook are two places where the voiceless are stretching their vocal chords and where accountability is taking on new methods. If a journalist is to perform his or her job above a minimum standard of competence, it’s important to dive in to these worlds and understand how they work.

Continue reading “Your Assignment for Today Is …”

R&D at J-Schools

Ken Sands, executive editor of innovation at Congressional Quarterly, sent me this BusinessWeek article.

“Last fall, psychologist B. J. Fogg taught a class at Stanford University in which he assigned students to develop Facebook applications. During the 10 weeks of the class, 73 students developed applications such as Kiss Me, Oregon Trail, and Secret Admirer, that have since resulted in 25 million installs and, by the end of the class, were attracting about 1 million daily, active users. These applications have generated more than $500,000 in ad revenue since September. At least three companies were formed by students in the class.”

Sometimes I drone on about j-schools needing to be R&D shops for industry. This is what I’m talking about.

If you have other examples, please send them my way.