SEO, CMS and analytics may not mean anything to you right now, but after you read this I hope they will.
Recently, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism invited Megan Berry (@meganberry on twitter) to come and give a presentation about her company Klout. In a nutshell, they tell you how much impact and reach your twitter account has based on a wide variety of different factors such as how many times you’ve been retweeted, the “true reach” of your tweets, the people you should follow and who is following you, and a bunch of other stuff. This presentation came on the heels of my introduction to Google Analytics (I know, I know, I’m late. But then again, so are most journalists-hence the blog post).
Between my new knowledge of Analytics and my introduction to my new obsession with Klout, I’ve done some thinking and come to the conclusion that all journalists, no matter what type (print, broadcast, web, etc.) should have not just a basic understanding of metrics, but a sophisticated enough understanding to truly appreciate the impact of their personal websites and tweets.
As we all know, having a twitter account and a website are almost as essential to a journalist as having pin and paper. But what’s the point of having these things if you don’t even know how many people are looking at your content? I recently wrote a blogpost about WikiLeaks (see “Who’s afraid of the big bad WikiLeaks?“) and something interesting happened. As I always do, I posted a link to the new blogpost on Facebook and twitter. When I looked at my metrics, I saw that my friend Ahmed Al Omran had linked to my post from his well known Saudi Jeans blog and I was getting hits from North Africa, Russia, China, and South America as a result. I gained 30 twitter followers, and my Klout score went from a measly 39 to a respectable 43 (I’m currently sitting on a 46).
In just one day 200 people looked at my website. that may not seem like a lot to you, but considering that I was usually averaging about 20 or 30 a week, this was pretty big to me. I’ve seen my numbers consistently stay high after monitoring my metrics and I’m more engaging with my twitter followers because I’ve become aware of the fact that someone outside of my friends actually care about what I’m doing online.
I was somewhat aware that I should be monitoring my online presence, but actually being able to quantify it in a tangible number is really awakening. Think about all the tweets or blogposts you’ve posted. Do you know how many people have seen them? What impact did your online action have on your community?
If you happen to stumble across some major breaking news story and you want to reach people, how will you know how many people you actually impacted? Knowing your metrics is important. If you haven’t gotten around to it yet, you should start.