It’s almost Ready, Fire, Aim’s ten month birthday. The first missive on this blog was posted on October 27, 2013. Since that time I’ve published 70 posts and as you can see from the statistics above, RFA just had it’s 11,715 Visitor and it’s 20,000th Visit. Given that RFA readers have somehow found enough value in the blog content to visit 20,000+ times, I thought this would be a good time to review just how this experiment in Rotary communications is progressing.
I should start by reminding my readers that although I personally find it endlessly entertaining to goof on my fellow Rotarians, and especially my colleagues on the esteemed, mighty, and all-knowing District 7620 Leadership Team, of which I am a proud member, “goofing” in print is not the purpose of RFA. It is, instead, an experiment to see if we can build an audience of Rotarians who are interested in reading about Rotary news in our District, and news about Rotary worldwide, by providing them with consistent and entertaining content. The RFA blog is but one of the “pipelines” being built to reach out to our members with great content. The District’s new blog and LinkedIn Group, along with our Facebook Page, District Governor newsletter, Foundation Newsletter, and weekly DG letter written to Club Presidents on Sunday evenings, are all methods of providing content for interested members. Part of the RFA experiment is to see if you mix entertainment with the news, does it make a difference in building a Rotary audience? (I have proven, without question, that I am entertaining myself.)
So how are we doing so far? From my perspective the news is mixed. The good news is that the blog has about 1,000 Visits and about 500 Visitors each week, and that’s probably pretty good. You can see that this week’s data (shown above) is about average. The not-so-good news is that readership growth is hardly parabolic. There’s been some progress, but it’s been slow. Here is a chart of the Visitors and Visits to RFA over the past six months: (Note: Visitors are unique individuals coming to the blog site and Visits are the number of blog posts they read while they are here.)
You might immediately notice the two posts that created the most Visits and the most Visitors. On June 6th I posted one of the few serious posts I’ve written, called Where Rotary Succeeds and Foreign Aid Fails. The results were startling to say the least. Here’s a closeup of the data for the few days before and after the post.
As you can see, on the day of that post RFA had the usual 100 visitors but they hung around the blog and read close to 800 posts! I was so astounded by this that I had my blog advisor, and super Rotarian, Darren Easton, look at the data to confirm it wasn’t an error. It wasn’t. Go figure. If you are wondering, the post with the most Visitors (not Visits) is a post I did called Congratulations 7620..You Crushed it. That post had over 433 unique visitors who stayed to visit 526 posts. The “You Crushed It” blog was all about our Foundation giving stats for last year and contained several life changing (silly) videos of people crushing things.
One thing that is a puzzlement is where the visitors come from. Clearly Facebook is a major driver of visitors to the blog. Each post is “shared” on the District Facebook Page, the Zone 33 Facebook page, the Columbia Patuxent Club Facebook Page, and my personal Facebook page. I also notify Rotarians who are the subject of the blog by email so they know they’ve been featured. (I do this so they can prepare for the deluge of paparazzi that is the inevitable consequence of being mentioned in the blog.) But of greater interest is the power of hashtag Rotary on Twitter. Each post is tweeted on my Twitter account with my huge group of 56 followers. But because I use hashtag Rotary in each tweet, the result is an astounding number of Visitors from overseas. International Visitors was the subject of an RFA blog this past April called, Rotary International Really Is…..International. Here’s the latest data on overseas visitors to RFA:
The list above shows the Visitor count for the top ten countries. How many different countries have read RFA? Would you believe 123 countries? Hello visitors from Slovenia, Hungry, Malawi, Fiji, Rwanda, and Sudan…just to name a few. Here’s a map of a typical day’s visitors to the blog by country. Pretty wild, don’t you think?
Here are some observations about the RFA experiment so far:
There is some evidence that the blog audience is growing. If you squint at the 6-month history chart I think you can see a slight upward trend in visitors and visits. I had hoped to see more of an uptrend.
I see no evidence that the audience for the blog is primarily from District 7620, even though the blog is presumably “about” my journey to being DG next year in District 7620.
Very few readers use the subscribe button to subscribe to the blog posts and get notifications of posts direct to their email, even though I beg them to do it after every blog post.
Shooting video on my smart phone, hanging it on YouTube, and having video content on the blog has been well received. If I can do this, anyone can. More to come throughout District 7620.
There is little to no “conversation” on the blog. Blogs are an inherently interactive platform to communicate. So far….this one isn’t.
I have not used the “bully pulpit” of being DGE to “push” blog readership. I think the 500 visitors and 1,000 visits baseline is pretty well established. Beginning in PrePETS I will ask 2015-2016 Club Presidents to follow the blog. It should be interesting to see what happens from there. My hypothesis is that most of my President Elects will read the blog and immediately quit Rotary.
We are diligently working to create content for the other District “pipelines” for content. Without consistent content we can’t see what happens when we “cross refer” readers to our different sites. District PR Chair Dawn Wittfelt is hard at work creating this information infrastructure. If you might be interested in being a “reporter” for District 7620 and helping out, please let Dawn or know. It would be much appreciated.
Finally, to the chagrin of my readers, there is, apparently, an endless stream of important subjects to write about. For example, recent posts have included vital information about how to tie your shoes and why clubs should employ herald trumpets when properly greeting the DG. Do’s and Don’ts of the DG Club Visit. I’ve posted video interviews with Rotary big shots and not-so-big shots. And I’ve posted several videos from the movies. My personal favorite? A clip from the horror classic, “The Shining”, featuring Jack Nicholson’s famous line, “Here’s Johnny.” Rotary’s Gone Mad!
So…for the PR geeks out there you are now up to date. Back to our regularly scheduled programming. And thanks to all for reading Ready, Fire, Aim. I hope I got you to laugh at least a couple of times along the way so far.
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