For years individual content producers in news organizations didn’t have an easy way to figure out how popular or useful their content was with people.
But with today’s advanced site analytics, content producers have unprecedented data about users and their surfing habits. I wrote a long post about this subject over at BeatBlogging.Org. Consider this post the Cliff Note’s version with a few added tidbits.
What makes this data so important?
With Web analytics, content creators like writers, bloggers, photographers, database developers, etc can find out which content is getting the most page views and visits and from where those visitors are coming from. Content creators can also find out which search terms most often land people on their content.
Analytics will allow for content producers to make content that is more appealing to their users. For a football beat, it might mean creating more previews and Q&A sessions and less feature stories. For an education blog, it might mean writing more about teachers’ issues and less about the school district as a whole.
It also might mean different kinds of content. Your users might prefer posts that are short and comprised of lists. My users might prefer longer paragraphs. The only way to understand what our individual users want is to track their browsing habits.
The timing of posts is also extremely critical, and this varies per beat per news organization:
In general, after lunch and after work are the two peak times for Web traffic. This, however, is not universal, and detailed Web analytics will allow content producers to know the peak times to release content on their Web sites. In fact, different beat blogs at the same paper might have different peak traffic times.
Now, not every news organization allows content producers access to this information. In fact, most may not, but the content producers I have spoken to almost uniformly say it has helped them do their jobs better. Every news organization worth anything already has detailed site analytics.
It doesn’t cost a company money to give more people access to this information, but site analytics can be complicated and hard to understand without training. Some newsrooms have come up with ways of getting around that.
Suzanne Yada said her newspaper, the Visalia Times-Delta, has a daily meeting at 3 p.m. to discuss traffic figures and which stories are getting the most page views. Ryan Sholin says at the last paper he worked at he sent out a daily “Top 5.” Sholin said, however, that bloggers had full access to their stats.
Whether a news organization gives access to this data to every content producer or whether a news organization has a meeting or e-mail to discuss Web traffic, it doesn’t matter. What ultimately matters is that news organizations give content producers vital information that will allow them to do their jobs better.
To all my blogging readers, could you imagine blogging blind? That’s essentially what many news organizations are asking their content producers to do.
If your company doesn’t allow content producers access to this information, I have a question for you. Why doesn’t your company give individual content producers information about the content they produce?