Community Media Lab role leads to talk in Milan

Posted September 23, 2013 by Michelle Rogers
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One of the more enjoyable aspects of my job as director of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab is that I get to travel to communities across Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to present information about the media lab and the resources we offer. I call it a media lab roadshow, and I have visited Saline, Chelsea and Dexter in the last few months presenting to chamber of commerce members and at senior centers.

On Sept. 13, I had the honor of returning to Milan, where I had served as editor of The Milan News-Leader from July 2006 to February 2013, while also serving as the managing editor of Heritage Media’s western Washtenaw County publications — seven in all, plus The View in Wayne County — and the website I had to book it about five months out, but it was worth the wait. More than 30 people attended, and they seemed genuinely interested in the free services the lab has to offer through 21st Century Media, managed by Digital First Media, and partnering with The Milan News-Leader to contribute local news.

Since my intern returned to school last month, it was a little bit more of a challenge to shoot video of my presentation while presenting. I set up a Flip video camera at a table behind me and tried to judge from afar whether I was in the frame, and I was a little off. Still, I created a video of the talk and shared it on the media lab’s YouTube channel.

I also shot a Tout before the presentation started so I could use it as an example during my presentation of social media and new media tools that are available to report in real time.

I fed the Tout into my RebelMouse page, which I incorporated in my presentation and told business owners it was something they should all have, if they are active on social media.

In addition, I took a photo of the members getting their breakfast before my talk and included it in a Tweet before my presentation started, as another way of showcasing the greatness of social media.

There were three or four reporters in the audience, and Joyce Ervin, who is a freelance writer, shared with me this morning the article she wrote for and The Milan News-Leader. It’s only fitting that she shared with me the link to the piece online by posting it on my Facbook page, as part of my talk was about reaching your audience on the platform they feel comfortable with and are using. Joyce knows I am active on Facebook and would see her post there before picking up a print copy.


I received some really nice feedback after the presentation and the real test of my success came just a few hours later after I shared the link to my PowerPoint with those who asked for it. Susan Sheeley, a former elementary school counselor who just started her own counseling practice, Connections Counseling and Consulting, booked an appointment to learn more about using social media to promote her business. She had started a Facebook page, and we added her professional photo and cover photo, as well as a description. I helped her start a Twitter account and linked her Facebook and Twitter. And I also showed her how to create a meme, so she could share inspirational sayings or give advice using a new media tool.


It was fun working with Susan, and getting her started with her first Tweet,

meme and Facebook post promoting her website. I also encouraged her to check out Tout and possibly set up a YouTube channel to dispense some advice, while getting people comfortable with her style and approach as a counselor.

I look forward to helping more people from Milan and beyond who are struggling with social media or new media, and just need a little boost or help to get them going. It’s a bonus when they are as appreciative as Susan in her tweet.

Digital First Media opens second media lab in Michigan

Posted August 16, 2013 by Michelle Rogers
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This photo is courtesy of The Macomb Daily. Unfortunately, I don't remember who took it, possibly David Dalton. But that's me talking with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel at the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab launch party Tuesday.

This photo is courtesy of The Macomb Daily. Unfortunately, I don’t remember who took it, possibly David Dalton. But that’s me talking with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel at the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab launch party Tuesday.

I had the honor Tuesday of helping Maryanne MacLeod, community engagement editor at The Macomb Daily; Jeff Payne, editor of The Voice Newspapers; and Jody McVeigh, editor of Advisor & Source, launch Macomb County’s first community media lab with an open house at The Macomb Daily, 19176 Hall Road, in Clinton Township.

The event attracted more than 135 people, including Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon. Both joined 21st Century Media Michigan Group Publisher Jim O’Rourke and Group Editor Glenn Gilbert at the ribbon cutting. I put together a video for the media lab’s YouTube channel featuring all four speaking about the media lab and its aim to bring the audience inside the newsroom as news-sharing partners.

Maryanne had more than 61 people sign up for workshops at the media lab. My intern, Adrian College student Elise Waller, manned a table promoting the workshops and took names of people interested in attending. Time slots for one-on-one instruction with Maryanne were also booked. What’s great is Maryanne’s help and the workshops are free to the public.


I thought Maryanne and her team did an excellent job of putting together the community event. It was much better than when I launched our first media lab in Ypsilanti April of 2012. Maryanne, Jeff, Jody, Elise and I all brainstormed ideas for the launch party, as well as the lab, earlier this summer and it was great to see it all come together. I really loved a video they created that played on a loop during the party. This is something I did with the launch of the Southeast Michigan Media Lab, and I suggested Maryanne consider doing the same. On it, staff members talk about the expertise they can share with people who come to the media lab for instruction.

One of the more interesting draws to the party — and which will continue to attract people to the media lab — was a rotating art exhibit. For the launch party, the Black and White show, a collection of artwork donated by three Macomb County-based art organizations affiliated with the Anton Art Center, was on display.

Another big draw was a workshop, held during the party, for anyone interested in contributing community sports coverage to 21st Century Media publications in Michigan. 21st Century Media is managed by Digital First Media. George Pohly, Macomb Daily sports editor, led the workshop, which attracted about a dozen people.

Maryanne also created a hashtag (#MediaLabLaunch) for staff and the public to use during the event to share Tweets, Instagram photos and Touts, which is short-form video DFM reporters are using and encouraging the public to use.

The party also featured community partners and bloggers, who were sharing information and hawking their wares.

At the end of the evening, guests were given a chocolate bar with a wrapper noting the occasion, another great idea by Maryanne and her team. It was a nice memento and, as my intern noted in her Instagram photo, you can’t go wrong with chocolate.


While the party marked the official opening of the media lab, Maryanne has been helping bloggers for quite a while as part of her role with the company, but now she has a dedicated space to do it. The new space, which is set up like a classroom, will allow her and the three publications to expand their community outreach and build partnerships. A regular schedule of workshops will be offered on social media and digital media, as well as community-driven workshops. The next workshop is 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 12 on news writing and alternative ways of sharing news, such as video, photo slideshows and audiocasts.

Elise and I set up the media lab’s Facebook page and profile, where workshops are listed, as well as its YouTube channel, blog, Twitter and Instagram accounts, RebelMouse page and uStream channel. These are all basic digital tools, in my opinion, needed for a media lab, as well as any new venture.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Maryanne noted my help and referred to me as her mentor. Her words touched my heart. I had just viewed my role as helper and I was honored when she called me a mentor. I also got a kick out of reporter Jameson Cook noting my presence at the party in his news story. It’s not often that a former editor and reporter becomes part of the story, but I did, and it was fun to see my name in print, outside of a byline.


I know the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab will be a success, and it was badly needed. I had a few people drive the 126-mile round-trip from Macomb County to the Southeast Michigan Media Lab in Ypsilanti, which I operate, for workshops and instruction. It’s nice that they now have support in their own community, and I am glad that I played a small role in that.

Next up, hopefully, is Mount Pleasant. I would love to work with the team there to launch a media lab affiliated with The Morning Sun. Let’s see what the next year — or several months — brings.

Guests check in and enter a raffle at The Macomb Daily office Tuesday for the launch of the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab.

Guests check in and enter a raffle at The Macomb Daily office Tuesday for the launch of the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab.

Twitter, Tout and Bloggers add to fun of media lab job

Posted August 7, 2013 by Michelle Rogers
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Twitter training at The Macomb Daily, Daily Tribune and Advisor Source, part of 21st Century Media.

Twitter training at The Macomb Daily, Daily Tribune and Advisor Source, part of 21st Century Media.

Nearly every day, I am appreciative of having the job I do and all the fun it brings. I don’t think of it as work because I really do love every aspect of it (except maybe still having to put together the Heritage commentary page for print. Are you still reading print?!).

In particular, this last week or so has been a blast as I traveled to The Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant to train the newsroom on short-form video using Tout, The Macomb Daily, Daily Tribune and Advisor & Source yesterday to give a refresher on Twitter to staff journos, and I am looking forward to tomorrow, when I will teach Tout to staff at The Oakland Press. And, in between, I’ve been working one-on-one with our community bloggers, which is always lots of fun exploring their work and figuring out ways to help their blog reach more readers and provide richer content.

At The Morning Sun, which brought me to Mount Pleasant for the first time Aug. 1, I enjoyed meeting and interacting with the staff, who are all hardworking and dedicated. I was very impressed with their accomplishments and excited that they were embracing Tout. Our company, 21st Century Media, which is managed by Digital First Media, has a partnership with Tout and all of our newsrooms across the United States have embraced the tool for short-form video. My role is to help provide training and encouragement, and recruit our audience to use it as news-sharing partners in Michigan.

What I love about Tout is that it’s easy to share on social media, via text and email or through an embed, and you can reply — all in real time. So let’s say you are at a festival, sporting event or community gathering, either as a journalist or citizen, you could use the Tout app on your smartphone to record what you see and share it via Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools. Mention your local media company via Twitter handle and they could reTout it and share it with their audience. People can reply their own Touts sharing their observations or comments. I love the community engagement potential.

To get our communities more involved with Tout and sharing community news, I will be traveling to newsrooms across Michigan to provide free training on Tout to the public. My first session is scheduled 6 p.m. Aug. 15 at The News-Herald in Southgate. Check out my profile to find out about other training opportunities.

The Twitter training at The Macomb Daily was also a good time because I love using Twitter and I think it offers enormous benefits as a tool for journalists to connect with their audience, interact, crowdsource, share and find breaking news, and build community. I held two sessions — one in the morning and another in the afternoon — and met with blogging partners in between. During the presentation, I asked the reporters to tweet highlights, take photos and share them on Twitter, either via Twitter or Instagram-to-Twitter, and shoot Touts and share them via Twitter.

A few did, but not many, so that was a little disappointing. Every time I attend a journalism conference or workshop, most participants do this via a hashtag, adding their insights and information, which I think is valuable — and it’s fun.

This morning, to reinforce the presentation, I Tweeted at everyone — those who attended and those who did not — asking them to share one of their successes using Twitter or one thing they learned that was helpful.

Out of about 20 Tweets sent about four hours ago, I’ve had seven replies. A little discouraging.

Maybe I will follow up with an email: “Have you checked Twitter today!” I had asked them to be on Twitter at least once a day and told them between 1 and 3 p.m. were the best times to Tweet, according to research by

A couple of days ago, I shared on Facebook a photo of an email that now hangs on my cubicle wall at the media lab. It’s from my boss and says, in part, “You are far exceeding my expectations …” That note, coupled with the rewarding feeling I have helping my co-workers and our news-sharing partners learn new tools to reach their audience on the platform of their choosing, makes me spring out of bed every weekday morning (some weekends, too), excited about what the day will bring.

Photo by Jody McVeigh of individual Twitter help with Norb Franz, Joe Ballor and me, Michelle Rogers (right).

Photo by Jody McVeigh of individual Twitter help with Norb Franz, Joe Ballor and me, Michelle Rogers (right).

Steve Buttry visits for community engagement workshops

Posted July 22, 2013 by Michelle Rogers
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Engagement Workshops

Steve Buttry, digital transformation editor for Digital First Media, which manages parent company 21st Century Media, paid a visit July 9 to the new Macomb Regional Community Media Lab, where community engagement editors from across the company’s Michigan and Ohio properties met to deliver a series of workshops.

I had the pleasure of livestreaming the event using the Southeast Michigan Media Lab‘s uStream channel, and moderating a live chat on ScribbleLive, while also presenting three of the 14 workshops. I was a little nervous about whether everything would run smoothly as I was on vacation the week prior to the event and had short notice on what I would be presenting. But because I provided Steve with a list of what I felt comfortable talking about, and had some slides from old PowerPoints I had delivered on the subject, I didn’t spend too much time putting together the presentations and was able to still enjoy my vacation with not a lot of prep work for the event.

The lab was packed with presenters, as well as some handpicked staff and editorial staffers from The Macomb Daily and Advisor & Source who were curious about particular subjects and wanted to watch in person, rather than online. Everyone used the hashtag #DFMengage throughout the afternoon to Tweet highlights, share photos and video. Some of our followers on social media chimed in with their own comments using the same hashtag, with all the posts appearing in our live chat blog.

Paul Kampe of The Oakland Press introduces himself at the community engagement workshops organized by Steve Buttry.

Paul Kampe of The Oakland Press introduces himself at the community engagement workshops organized by Steve Buttry.

Steve kicked off the afternoon with introductions, and it was great to meet in person many people who I was familiar with only by name or social media handle.

I led the first workshop on ScribbleLive, followed by fellow media lab director Maryanne MacLeod, community engagement editor for The Macomb Daily, speaking on her successes with community engagement using Facebook and, in particular, archival photographs that go viral. Lisa Yanick Jonaitis, community engagement editor at The Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant, spoke next about engaging your audience through contests, followed by Cheryl Sadler, community engagement editor at The News-Herald in Ohio, who walked us through her successes with Pinterest.

Later in the afternoon, I spoke about a new short-form video tool we are using across DFM called Tout and Karen Workman, former community engagement editor at The Oakland Press who now works on breaking news at DFM’s Thunderdome, gave a presentation about using Google Voice for crowdsourcing and community engagement. Steve followed with a chat on using video to engage your audience.

Laura Tressler Kessel, managing editor of The News-Herald in Ohio, gave examples of engaging the community as contributors and using their content, as well as a community weight loss effort. Steve followed with a talk on the social conversation and how to engage your audience online through social media.

Cheryl Sadler (left), community engagement editor at The News-Herald, in Ohio was among the presenters July 9.

Cheryl Sadler (left), community engagement editor at The News-Herald, in Ohio was among the presenters July 9.

Cheryl returned later in the afternoon with a presentation on the photo engagement tool Olapic, which encourages reader-submitted content. Karen was up next with an overview on Thunderdome, soliciting ideas from the editors on how the national news-gathering group could better serve staff at the local level.

At 5 p.m. I threw a bunch of tools at the editors as I spoke about Google Forms, NewHive, RebelMouse, SurveyMonkey and Dipity for crowdsourcing and community engagement. Before Steve’s wrap-up was Jeff Kuehn, regional sports editor for the Michigan cluster, and Cheryl, who spoke on the sports department’s efforts to solicit user-generated content, use of social media and community engagement efforts. Steve concluded the program with an example of community engagement using GeoFeedia to capture what the crowd was saying about the anniversary of the Battle at Gettysburg story.

Jeff Kuehn speaks about sports engagement at the July 9 workshops at the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab.

Jeff Kuehn speaks about sports engagement at the July 9 workshops at the Macomb Regional Community Media Lab.

After the workshops, Steve asked everyone to think about a tool or idea they could apply to their job today. It will be interesting to see what everyone came up with as the weeks progress, and as we add a new tool to our tool belt over the course of several months based on what we learned from one another.

I decided to delve deeper into Pinterest, based on Cheryl’s presentation, and I’ve been working with the Professional Volunteer Corps in Ann Arbor. I helped the group start a Pinterest page and one of their volunteers will be meeting with me regularly to post photos from their volunteer activities, follow other interests, repin items and start engaging individuals on the social media tool while building an audience, and, hopefully, attracting more people to the group. For example, they recently visited Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids and I am sure their photos of the beautiful flowers will attract some followers, and repins.

If you attended our workshops, post here which tool you decided to embrace and how you are using it. I’d love to hear from you.

Special thank you to Jan Wick for ordering our lunch and making sure we had everything we needed, Steve Buttry for flying in and sharing his expertise, and everyone who attended and participated in this great learning experience. I look forward to another series next year. So, that means continue exploring new tools, experimenting with new ideas and engaging your communities in conversations as we work toward elevating our journalism.

Teaching Blogging 101 at Chelsea Senior Center

Posted June 24, 2013 by Michelle Rogers
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I took the Southeast Michigan Media Lab on the road today, visiting the Chelsea Senior Center to teach Blogging 101. Susan Barb, program manager at the center, helped organize my visit and my colleagues at The Chelsea Standard helped by promoting it, along with Susan, who used the Chelsea Senior Center’s newsletter to spread the word. Susan also said former Heritage Media reporter Lisa Allmendinger’s Chelsea Update had a mention about it.

The event attracted two seniors, which isn’t many, but I am hoping word will spread and I can return soon to a full house with the intention of expanding our blogging partnership base. We currently have 112 blogging partners who we link to at On Friday, I helped a soon-to-be fourth-grader in Chelsea schools launch his blog on Tumblr. It’s called the Lava Man Series. You should check it out! We will be adding it soon to our blog roll and he will be our youngest partner.

This isn’t the first time I’ve taken the media lab on the road. I’ve also presented at the Dexter Area Chamber of Commerce Speak & Eat and Saline Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting, and I am scheduled at the Milan Chamber breakfast meeting later this summer. In addition, I’ve met one-on-one with students in Saline interested in blogging to talk about the steps involved in becoming partners with Heritage Media.

This is the second time I’ve led a workshop on blogging specifically for senior citizens. Before the media lab launched in April 2012, David Veselenak, the former online coordinator for Heritage Media-West, and I, while I was managing editor of the group, presented a similar workshop at the Saline Senior Center. This was different, though, because I was on my own and did all of the presenting. Also, as part of the media lab, we hosted a Blogger Fair May 9 and I taught a workshop on adding bells and whistles to your blog to make it more visually appealing.

Michelle Rogers taught Blogging 101 at the Chelsea Senior Center June 24.

Michelle Rogers taught Blogging 101 at the Chelsea Senior Center June 24.

My hope is blogging will appeal to some of today’s workshop attendees and they embrace it as a vehicle to express themselves, whether sharing their hobbies and interests, political or spiritual views, or to share life experiences, moments they lived through in history or their travel adventures.

If you want help with your blog, need helping refining your writing or setting up social media channels, come visit the Southeast Michigan Media Lab. Our help is free as part of public outreach by our parent company, 21st Century Media, which is managed by Digital First Media.

Southeast Michigan Media Lab humming along

Posted June 21, 2013 by Michelle Rogers
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The Southeast Michigan Media Lab, part of my ideaLab project, has been keeping me busy as I have my first intern, and we continue to look for opportunities to enhance her portfolio and promote the media lab and what it has to offer.

On Wednesday, we traveled to Dexter for the Dexter Area Chamber of Commerce’s Speak & Eat featuring George Zimmermann of Pure Michigan. It was great returning to Dexter again, and I was impressed with the turnout of about 40 local business owners.

Elise Waller, my intern at the media lab, shot video of Zimmermann’s presentation.

And I contributed several Touts.

Elise also wrote a blog post.

Also this past week, I attended internal training on Tout, a real-time video platform that has incredible audience engagement possibilities. I livestreamed the event and held a chat on ScribbleLive for those who couldn’t attend in person.

I couldn’t resist Touting about it, too, and the presenter reTouted one of them, which was pretty cool.

I also taught the use of Tout to Douglas Gill, a movie blogger, at the media lab. I am excited to see what he comes up with moving forward, and I encouraged him to embed his Touts or Tout stream on his blog.

Of course, practice makes perfect.

We squeezed in a workshop called “Blogging for Nonprofits and Community Organizations” on Thursday. Bloggers Leslie McGraw and Bob Cummings volunteered their time to lead the two-hour workshop, which attracted a half-dozen people in person and more than 100 online. They did a great job and, of course, I livestreamed it on our uStream channel and held a live chat for our online audience.

I also Touted it (loving this new real-time storytelling tool).

To cap off the week, I had a delightful Friday afternoon when Nolan, a soon-to-be fourth-grader in Chelsea schools, stopped by with his mother and sister to set up a blog on Tumblr to share his Lava Man comic series. He will be the youngest blogging partner we have yet at the 21st Century Media Michigan Group.

Check out Nolan's comic series on Tumblr.

Check out Nolan’s comic series on Tumblr.

Rich Gordon talks about measuring digital success

Posted May 22, 2013 by Michelle Rogers
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I attended “The New Newsroom” conference May 15 in Chicago and walked away with some valuable insights from all of the presentations that I saw before catching the bus back to Michigan later in the evening. Rich Gordon, professor and director of digital innovation at Medill School at Northwestern University in Chicago, had one of the more interesting talks, focusing on Google Analytics.

Below are my notes from his presentation and posted above is video from his talk. Combined the two and it will be like you were there.

What Gets Measured Gets Done: Web and Social Analytics for Publishers
Presenter: Rich Gordon @richgor of Mendill at Northwestern University
Most measurable medium ever. Data being tracked on all devices, but also awash in data. What should we be keeping track of? Understanding analytics.

Key performance indicators to track: Links and content referrals, SEO and social media.

How well are you doing in networked audience development practices, and metrics, for locally focused websites. People consuming content presented to them on social media channels. If you understand how networks work you may be more successful in building an audience on the web and mobile.

Every biz on web should have set Key Point of Indicators (KPI) that are tracked consistently and regularly. These KPIs should be shared throughout the organization. Share data in the organization. And factor it into performances and personnel decisions. KPIs should align to business goal, so they will be different for every publisher and property.

Nielsen Net/Ratings counts 4,600 news and information websites. Of those, top 300, or 7 percent of total, get 80 percent of the traffic. Understanding networked audiences: research shows in any category of web content/websites, this pattern will exist. A small portion get a significantly disproportionate amount of the traffic. Network effects from links, search, social media cause a leader to become a bigger leader overtime because they build. “The rich get richer,” so to speak. Networks tend to produce “power law distributions” or our time, of attention. The 80/20 rule: A small fraction of the total number of nodes in the network. So, the more active on social media, the bigger your network will grow!

Basic metrics: size/scale (raw number of people/users/browsers coming to our site; loyalty/frequency (how often coming back); and audience engagement (once they do come, how much time are they spending there). Unique visitors/page views of size/scale; average visit duration speaks to engagement; site views speaks to loyalty.

Understanding online metrics and audiences, consider how technology works: every single server that delivers a page will drop a cookie that can be read. Cookies help us measure.

Unique visitors: Total number of unique people visiting a website at least once in a time period, usually once a month. People visiting the site more than one time in the reporting period are counted only once. Unique visitors really measuring computers or cookies, not people. Someone using 3 computers will equal 3 unique visitors, although really 1.

Visit session: If there is a gap of 30 minutes, then counts as a new session or visit.

Page views: Total number of times a web page is requested by a user. Counted only when page fully loads in browser window.

Bounce rates: Portion of visits that are exactly one page view. Not staying on site. Typically 60 percent.

Size/scale: visits

Loyalty/frequency: percentage of new visits

Audience engagement: pages/visits

Stay away from unique visitors. Doesn’t really mean anything, Rich Gordon says, even though common in measuring audience. Page views can be easily manipulated. It can reward site practices that users hate, so steer away from page views for measurable data. Bounce rate is more appropriate for direct marketing campaigns (if want to get them to a landing page and then track number), but strive for improvement over time. If you can get someone to your page for first time, need to figure out what else can serve them up to keep them on the site. You know they are coming for something they are interested in for first time, but key is figuring out how to keep them there.

Reason you have more readers online than in print because we have a strained distribution of users. Many come to the site once a month for something specific, or twice for something specific. It’s the 8 percent that comes frequently and regularly who you want to measure and target. Fans make up most of your page views but only 4.3 percent, and flybys or one time visitors 70 percent. In the end 90,000 copies sold a day, 200K daily print readership, 450K unique only equals 20,000 fans (but those people matter more than flybys).

What makes online platform different than print. Time spent on website lower than print. Average one minute online vs. 20 minutes reading print. Time spent too low on local news websites. But there is a problem with how time spent.

Google Analytics the standard for measuring time spent on web. But time spent on last page isn’t measured. It counts as 0 time spent if goes no where else on site. That’s why pages per visit better to track than duration. With GA: time spent from first page to last click on site (but not last page).

Where is our traffic coming from? Good to know so we know where to put our attention. Where does site traffic come from: search, links, social media. 35 to 50 percent from search, links and social media; local traditional media, 50 percent to 65 percent; local online-only site: 65 to 90 percent. Search is search engine; referral is links from other sites; direct is type url or bookmark; or campaigns, you get GA code to build traffic, such as an email newsletter.

Link sharing efforts will help you increase referrals. Look at info and decide which traffic matters most, usually direct traffic.

Branded visits: People typing in url or bookmark, plus those typing name into search. Direct, plus search for (site name): A significant share of search driven visits are really direct visits in disguise. Add these to direct, deduct from search.

Social media: To what extent is social media referring traffic to your site? Look at percentage of referral visits and all visits by Facebook, Twitter and other social sources. Be smart about your social media strategy and you can increase referrals.

Which referrals are most valuable and give you the most engaged visitors. On average, 1.5 visits from search or direct, less by referral because coming for specific story. But if you are executing social media well and engaging your audience they will stay longer. Engage with them rather than auto headline feeds and give them other material to click on.

Engagements: visits staring on home page. Visitors arriving on home page should view more pages and not bounce. People who come through home page stay longer as they look for other things on the site. May want to track this on a regular basis to see if you have an appealing home page.

Also look at this metric on GA: Engagement level from mobile users vs. computer users. Pages per visit for computer users now higher than mobile. But we’re started to see tablet users, not mobile/phone, starting to look like computer users, spending more time on site. What does your site look like on a mobile device. Make it look good on a small screen and large screen and you’ll see the number of mobile go up and the gap between mobile and computer will get smaller.

Social media: Facebook insights
“Total reach” is “people who have seen any content associated with your page; “People talking about this” is people who have created a “story” (like, comment, share, answer question, respond to an event.) “Engaged users” actually click on your link; “Virality” is the people talking about it divided by total reach, or number of people who have seen it. If you can detect viral trends, then exploit it. Look at “likes” on Facebook (should grow over time and be tracked); Over 28 days: track engaged users, people talking about this and virality. Figure out what’s a good number of likes. Ask people to like your page and retweet your content, if you think it’s worth retweeting. Data shows people will respond, but don’t overuse the request.

Measure: followers, growth in followers, followers per 1,000 visits, retweets

Follower: Following ratio. High means many people are listening to you and you are using Twitter mostly for distribution; low is you’re interesting to many people and using twitter to monitor your community. You want to be following as many as following you or you are just using it to push links, as you don’t care to follow people back and engage them in conversations.

Social media influence scorers: Klout, TweetLevel, PeerIndex and others. Each seeks to measure your influence on social media channels. Measures your activity and what happens after you tweet. Are people retweeing, favoriting, etc.?

Rich Gordon asking for access to analytics and compare it across industry to share outcomes and look at best practices to share. He thinks he can protect confidentiality, wouldn’t share data by name. It could also help outperforming sites demonstrate value for advertisers. Interesting to have metrics to benchmark yourself against others.