Diverse and embedded media equals bigger website hits

Ann Arbor isn’t a huge high school sports town.

Sure, two of the biggest high schools in Michigan are located here, and multiple state champions have been crowned in the 13 or so months that I’ve worked for the A2 Journal. However, Ann Arbor isn’t like most other towns. People from the community don’t flock to high school sporting events. After all, this is the home of the mighty University of Michigan and the storied Wolverine football program. In other cities of comparable size, high school sports play a bigger role in the eyes of the community. They are a way for people to rally around  and take pride in something. But in Ann Arbor, for lack of a better way of explaining it, there are just too many other things going on. High school sports gets lost in the shuffle.

So it became a goal of mine to try to get people interested. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to fill the stands at the Pioneer football games, but I was at least going to try to get people to read about them.

I soon found that writing and posting stories to the web isn’t enough. Sports, especially at the high school level is a weird beat. Sure, your stories are going to get read, but they are only going to be read by the people who really, really care about them. The people who are going to search for your work. And in the prep sports business, that means parents of players. And that target audience isn’t big enough.

We can’t count on people to search for our stories, we have to make them accessible and make them interesting. All of us, not just the sports folks, are charged with the tough assignment of making people care about stuff they might not have much interest in.

And I’ve found that one step to doing that is with digital media.

Pictures, audio and video. That stuff draws people in.

And if it’s packaged with the story, the story gets hit on the website, and all the media is viewed in the same place. That’s why it is so important to embed the media in the story.

Here is a good example:

On Friday, Oct. 15 I went to a football game and covered it as I would normally. Taking stats and occasionally shooting some video with my Flip. At the conclusion of the game, I used my phone (a Motorola Droid) to record some audio using the Ipadio application. I recorded about four minutes of the winning coach’s postgame interview. Then I used the Flip again to record a few minutes of the coach addressing his team, kind of an after-game pep talk. Finally, I pulled the winning quarterback away and did a short Flip interview with him.

Then I went home, wrote my story, edited the video and uploaded the audio to the Ipadio site. Then I embedded everything into the story. Ipadio offers an embed code, as do all the videos.

So in the end, I have a story, with a media player built into it with some audio and then three videos stacked upon one another. I made sure to put “(with audio and video)” into my web headline, and then I published our site and added links on facebook and twitter.

On Monday I noticed something pretty spectacular. My football story was the No. 2 most viewed story on the Heritage.com website. That might not sound like a big deal, but since I’ve worked here, there has never been a prep sports story in the top three of the “Most Viewed” section.

It had over 100 views, and the videos all had significantly more views than other, similar videos not embedded into stories. I’m not tooting my own horn here. The story didn’t get viewed that much because it was written any better than the others. It was seen because it had more to offer a reader than just words to read.

Ann Arbor is still not a huge high school sports town. But I see now that that doesn’t matter.  People can be interested in anything that is easily accessible, anything that screams out to them to sacrifice a second to take a look. Besides, it doesn’t make any sense to go through the effort of filming and editing video if we are going to bury it in a video section somewhere where people can’t find it.

If we want to start getting bigger website hits, we need to not only embrace the gathering of digital media, but also the way we bring it to our readers. And embedding into stories is the first step.

Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: