Last week, the Whitman Pioneer broke out of its weekly publication mold a bit to cover a story about the administration’s decision to cut varsity sports funding to the Alpine and Nordic ski teams. The same day the announcement was made we had an article written by one of the Editors-in-Chief posted, and started spreading the word around campus for students to visit the site and weigh in. As I posted earlier here at CoPress, one of the major goals we wanted to accomplish with our new site was to use it as a forum for student discussion about heated topics; we saw this as a great chance to test it out.
Breaking the News
Once the story was posted and the official announcement by the President’s Office was made we started to spread the word through a variety of means: posting on Twitter, sending emails to the student list-serve, and good old word of mouth. Our goal was to get students and community members onto the site to read about the decision and comment on it. The results showed some interesting information concerning the roles these different modes of communication played.
First, Whitman is far from a “Twitter-heavy” campus. I know of a few dozen students and staff who use it, and most of those don’t post too frequently. Thus, I was definitely interested in what type of traffic our posts on Twitter would drive to the site. The results aren’t so encouraging though. Out of over 1,200 visitors over a 3-day period only 9 (less than 1%) came from Twitter. Furthermore, these visitors only spent an average of 2 seconds on the site. Not very heartening to someone trying to use Twitter to increase traffic to our site.
While the community may not be awake to the power of Twitter, Whitman is definitely fond of email list-servs. Over the course of a couple days we posted multiple announcements to the general student list-serve about the article. This drove over 100 visitors (more than 10% of our traffic). Also, these visitors were much more likely to spend time reading the article as most spent over 2 minutes on the page.
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