Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Farmers Weekly micro-blogging

Farmers Weekly has been inspired by the Liverpool Daily post's recent live blog experiment.

They are using Cover It Live to micro-blog their way through the afternoon.

I was most interested to read that one of the team has chocolates on his desk so I'm just popping down to see them and give them some encouragement. No other reason.

Measuring Engagement (101)

Ah well, time to bit the bullet, I think. I've been looking around for ideas on how to measure audience engagement and I've found this post by Ronald Patiro.

Lots of great ideas such as:

  • Visitor Engagement Index = (Visits) / (Visitors)
  • Take Rate = (# of Visits Taking Part in Desired Activity) / (Visits)
  • Repeat Visitor Share = (Repeat Visitors) / (Visitors)
  • Heavy User Share = (# of Visits with X or More Pages Viewed) / (Visits)
  • Committed Visitor Share = (# of Visits Lasting Longer Than X Minutes) / (Visits)
  • Committed Visitor Index = (# of Page Views in Visits Lasting Longer Than X Minutes) / (# of Visits Lasting Longer Than X Minutes)
  • Committed Visitor Volume = (# of Page Views in Visits Lasting Longer Than X Minutes) / (Page Views)
  • Bounce Rate = (# of One Page Visits) / (Visits)
  • Scanning Visitor Share = (# of One Minute Visits) / (Visits)
  • Scanning Visitor Index = (# of Page Views in One Minute Visits) / (# of One Minute Visits)
  • Scanning Visitor Volume = (# of Page Views in One Minute Visits) / (Page Views)
  • Average Order Amount = (Total Sales) / (Total Orders)
  • Sales Per Visit = (Total Sales) /(Visits)
  • Repeat Order Rate = (# of Orders From Existing Customers) / (Total Orders)
  • Order Acquisition Ratio = (Marketing Expense/Number of Orders) / (Marketing Expense/Visits)
  • Conversion Rate = (Number of Sales) / (Visitors)
  • Page Views per Visitor = (# of Page Views) / (Visitors)
  • Average Time on Site
Wish me luck.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Entrepreneurial journalism and the B2B brain drain

New ideas are forever popping into my head to add to the Digital Journalism Manifesto and the other night I (sadly) woke up in the middle of the night and wrote "The Digital Journalist Is His Or Her Own Brand".

What was in my mind was that a DJ with his or her own blog is really a brand regardless of which newspaper, magazine or website pays his or her wages.

Combine this with the fact that it costs practically nothing to set up your own website and you have to wonder how difficult it will become for "traditional" media companies to retain their best people for any length of time in the future.

Take the case of Harry McCracken, editor in chief of US b2b title PC World (no relation I presume to the UK retailer of the same name). He has announced that he is leaving to set up his own technology site which he will build from scratch and launch this summer.

As Paul Conley notes "That's big news for the world of B2B journalism" and "Harry is now the best-known business-media journalist to enter the world of entrepreneurial journalism" but he also goes on to say:

... in the past few weeks I've begun consulting with and/or offering advice and support to four different B2B editors who are building new products as they make plans to quit their day jobs before the end of the year.

But most interesting to me is that I'm in talks now with an entity that is interested in offering tools, a platform, ad-sales services and a revenue share to B2B editors who opt to take the standalone route (when and if I reach a deal with that group, I'll publish the details here.)
Interesting times, interesting times.

Why would anyone want to blog with us...?

I was delighted to read Robert Niles' article on Online Journalism Review: Five steps to encourage readers to blog on your website

As my regular reader knows, we have been rolling out Community Server across many of our websites. The original intent was merely to up our game in terms of discussion forums, but we have also been using the photo gallery and blogs functionality with some surprising results.

In Farmers Weekly Interactive (our first launch) we weren't sure whether to bother switching on the blog functionality. Would farmers really blog?

The answer, it turned out, is yes, yes, yes, yes and several more in that vein.

Robert Niles explains why people might decide to blog in one of our online communities rather than elsewhere:

Anyone can start a blog, for free and in minutes, using established and popular services such as Blogger and Wordpress.com. What would entice a reader to avoid those options in favor of maintaining their blog on your website?

The answer is one word: community.

Most readers, like professional writers, want an audience for their work. Putting a blog online isn't like putting a magazine on the rack at Borders. Starting a blog on Blogger, while technically simple, does little to put a writer's word in front of a potential audience. Promoting the new blog remains the writer's responsibility, and many fall short of the challenge.

Launching a new blog within an established website community, however, gives a new blogger a head start on promoting his or her work. Within the community, bloggers become the audience for their fellow bloggers' work. And if the blogging community is part of a larger content-driven website, such as an online newspaper, non-writing readers can more easily find and become fans of a new blog.
He then goes on to provide five steps for encouraging this which I won't rip off here; read them on his article.

Co-incidentally, we've been doing a bit of work lately on encouraging the people who are blogging on our community sites to do it more, faster better etc - this article is going to help us encourage even more people to blog with us, thanks Robert.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

"here is life after print — in fact, a better life after print"

A fascinating - and heartening - article in the New York Times about US technology publisher IDG.

The journey beyond print is uncertain and perilous, but the experience of I.D.G., the world’s largest publisher of technology newspapers and magazines, suggests that it can be done. A privately held company, whose magazines include Computerworld, InfoWorld, PC World, Macworld and CIO, it appears to have made a profitable migration to the Internet, with revenue from online ads now surpassing print revenue.
Last year they switched off one of their print editions to create an online-only title:

The biggest single step in the company’s online shift came on April 2, 2007, when the last print edition of InfoWorld appeared and it became a Web-only publication. InfoWorld, a weekly, started out as Intelligent Machines Journal in 1978; I.D.G. bought it a year later, and it has long been one of the company’s flagship magazines.

There were nervous months after the switch as the company awaited the reaction from advertisers and readers, but before long InfoWorld’s Web audience was growing and its business improved. Today, I.D.G. says, the InfoWorld Web site is generating ad revenue of $1.6 million a month with operating profit margins of 37 percent. A year earlier, when it had both print and online versions, InfoWorld had a slight operating loss on monthly revenue of $1.5 million.

The founder and chairman of I.D.G. says: “The excellent thing, and good news, for publishers is that there is life after print — in fact, a better life after print,”

Worth reading the article in full.

Storyboarding a multimedia story

I was looking for some ideas on how to storyboard a video interview, when I came across this instead.

It's a really useful piece by Jane Stevens on how to plan a multimedia story.

It seems like something that would be very helplful in getting traditional journalists to start thinking about stories in a non-linear (linearity being yet another skill which needs to be unlearned) way:

She suggests:

Divide the story into its logical, nonlinear parts, such as:

  • a lead or nut paragraph, essentially addressing why this story is important
  • profiles of the main person or people in the story
  • the event or situation
  • any process or how something works
  • pros and cons
  • the history of the event or situation
  • other related issues raised by the story

Instead of thinking "first part," "second part", "third part", "fourth part", think "this part", "that part", "another part", and "yet another part". It helps to avoid linear thinking. The home page comprises a headline, nut graph, an establishing visual (can be a background or central photograph, a slide show or a video), and links to the other parts, which are usually subtopics of the overall story.
She goes to give some useful ideas for identifying which parts of the story are most appropriate for:
  • video
  • still photos
  • audio
  • graphics
  • maps
  • text
  • interactivity
Terrific stuff.

Check out the full Multimedia Storytelling article here.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

How long do you want it?

[Back from hols. Yes, lovely thanks.] I don't talk a lot about writing on the web because - generally speaking - that's the comfort zone for our editorial folks - hence the focus on video and so on, but now there are some very interesting answers to that hoary old question: "How many words should a web article contain?"

Jakob Nielsen has done some analysis and found out some interesting things. Read it. But here are a few morsels:

On an average visit, users read half the information only on those pages with 111 words or less.

On average, users will have time to read 28% of the words if they devote all of their time to reading.

More realistically, users will read about 20% of the text on the average page.
Now, of course, none of this means very much but one might conclude that:
  • if you want people to read 55 words, type 111 of them.
  • if you want people to read more than 55 words, type at least 275 of them
  • or something
But I think what it really says is make sure you put the most important stuff at the top.