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Stats, Observations, and a Winner from The Networked Nonprofit

Last week I offered up a manifesto, book review, and free give away of The Networked Nonprofit.

And the winner is…Lori Hood Lawson! I used excel to build a quick random number generator, and wouldn’t you know, the one commenter who explicitly said she’d rather buy a book (other than Beth herself), turned out to be lucky #13 on my list of commenters. Hopefully Lori will still accept the book. Maybe she’ll even give her own review, and give away a 2nd copy to one of her commenters.

I’m a pretty big believer in radical transparency. I’m also totally transfixed whenever Gawker gives insights into how & what they track online. In an effort to do the same (and hope I don’t come off sounding like a boastful jackass) a few interesting stats:

  • 18 people commented, way more than my next most previously commented post count of 4. Turns out when you give something away, it gives readers a good excuse (and permission) to contribute to the community.
  • There’s an oft-quoted blogging rule of thumb that for every 100 readers you have, about 10 will become subscribers, and of those 10, 1 will become a commenter. In the week that this post has been live, it’s been read by nearly 300 people, and I gained 17 subscribers. Which basically means, I didn’t do a good enough job convincing readers the rest of my content was worthy enough of an RSS sub (yet), but it was more than worth their time to comment.
  • There was an average of 1.33 comments per person. In other words, 1 in 3 commenters also responded to someone elses comment. I don’t know a good benchmark, but I’d say that’s a relatively healthy engagement metric.
  • This post accounted for just 22% of my pageviews for the week, due in large part to the ongoing organic search popularity of the Foursquare Strategy, and the high profile link love to Twitter Hashtags. Both of those posts have wildly high bounce rates (85%+ of folks who discover my site via those pages don’t click through to any other pages on my blog). Unfortunately, for some mysterious reason Google Analytics decided to stop working all week, so I have no idea how the manifesto compares. But this post now has both high profile link love, and at least second page status in organic search, so we’ll see how things progress from here.
  • There were 2 significant spikes in traffic to this post over the week: the first when @kanter and @afine both tweeted about the post (that day accounted for 38% of the post’s weekly traffic), the second when Beth posted a review of the review on her website (that day accounted for 14% of the post’s weekly traffic). 7 days after the post had gone live, traffic had died down to the single digits. Essentially, the “news cycle” of the “story” lasted exactly a week. Whether that’s because of the artificial deadline I put on the give away, or is typical of this kind of post, is unclear.
  • Speaking of tweets, 42% of pageviews came via 19 different tweets; not surprising given this is the primary way I promote the blog. In a curious turn of events, my Facebook rant happened to get some twitter traction via a #TechSoup chat about nonprofits & social media on the same day as I  launched the manifesto. I have a strong suspicion that having 2 popular posts happening at the same time increased traffic between the two. Though, again, with Google Analytics broken for the week, I can’t tell for sure.
  • I saw my Twitter follower count rise 15% in the past week. That’s a slight jump from 11% growth the prior week. Fortunately, I’ve been on a bit of a roll in getting featured just about every week by other bloggers the past few months. I’m curious to try to figure out if the trend in follower count has more to do with blog/retweet traffic, or if I’ve reached some tipping point where simply having enough followers is a good enough indication of ‘worthiness’ to begat more followers.
  • There seems to be much ado about nothing to posting your blog at a certain time of day, or day of week. There has thus far been no correlation between traffic and either time or day, at least for my content. I’m also totally impatient and just want to hit the “Publish” button as soon as I’m done writing.

Some observations:

  • The only anonymous comment (and in fact, also the only comment that someone “liked”) was fairly negative. This falls in line with the well researched findings that people tend to be more positive (and even give higher ratings) when either forced, or choose, to use their own name. What made me so curious though was that the comment, though not glowing, wasn’t totally out of line. The commenter wasn’t flame throwing, or particularly disparaging, and in fact made a pretty good point. I didn’t talk much about the art, nor did I explicitly mention the importance of artists, and I probably should have done both. And yet, they didn’t choose to use their real name.
  • I was surprised by the number of non-US commenters. I know that about 16% of traffic to my blog comes from outside the US, but I often forget to think about that when I’m writing posts. In fact, nearly 1/3 of commenters are from outside the US, and I’m particularly grateful to Tom Peters and Amy Murphy for enlightening me about what’s going on in Germany and Ireland.
  • The links that commenters used to sign in to Disqus to comment (Twitter, WordPress, etc), are such a great resource to find other interesting content & people online. I’ve read what feels like thousands of posts on problogger that recommend new bloggers spend a fair amount of their time commenting on other people’s blogs, because then those bloggers will start paying attention to them (eventually). Turns out, totally true!
  • Now that I’ve asked so many folks to comment on my blog, I definitely feel more compelled to comment on others’ blogs.  Socialnomics is a gift economy after all.

Thanks to everybody who commented. You all provided excellent points, insightful feedback, and compelling criticism. If you’re interested in continuing the conversation about networked nonprofits, there’s also an awesome (and under-used) wiki. In the mean time, this book review/give away thing was kind of fun. Look for more in the future.

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  • bethkanter

    What a surprise!! I came here to grab the link to your post about doing a social media audience to link for a workshop I'm doing. In fact, I was going to remix it for another type of nonprofit ..

    Now, I have to comment on your superb analysis! I like how you deeply analyzed one post .. and while there is the 7 day shelf life – there is value over time. I've written a lot about analyzing your blog with metrics – that I can't find everything but here is a good summary article

    I also mentioned you in a webinar later that week – and shared the url of your manifesto with several hundred people.

    Also, what analytics software are you using that generates the graphic re: comments, subscribers, etc. I just switched to word press installed and wondering if there is a plugin or other software I should be using. Would love to add to my social media metrics wiki

  • devonvsmith

    Thanks Beth! Found the List of Change via your link on analyzing blog metrics. Fascinating, and great resource to find other cool nonprofit blogs. The Doing More with Less powerpoint looks awesome. Thanks for including me :) On word press I use a plugin called WordPress.com Stats (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/stats/) which is pretty good for pageviews, referrers, and inbound links. But I had to combine feedburner, disqus, WP stats, and bit.ly altogether in an excel spreadsheet to get the graph…

  • http://createquity.com Ian David Moss

    Huh, Google Analytics was working for me last week but it stopped yesterday (reporting 0 visitors since Friday). Did you upgrade to WordPress 3.0 recently? I did so yesterday and I wonder if that's what broke it. Can't find any evidence of it doing that to anyone else on the web though.

  • devonvsmith

    When checking plugins this morning, I realized late last night that it was my WP google analytics plugin that needed an upgrade. This morning GA is working again, but didn't capture any data from last week. Something's funky with my hosting site, and I haven't been able to upgrade to WP 3.0 since it was released. Haven't had the chance to dig into the issue yet.

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