Lauren Fuhrmann of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism spoke to CJET, an event where independent investigative and community news organizations can gain business development and strategic planning skills to make their organization sustainable in the long term.
Fuhrmann ran quickly through the major social and engagement platforms, starting with Twitter, sharing short list of tools to schedule and track tweets:
For Facebook, Furhmann says, there are few tools. “Sadly, for those of us who don’t like Facebook, if you want to get information about your performance, the only place you can go is…Facebook.” Furhmann notes that Facebook analytics did get a facelift early this year that made them easy to use.
Tracking what kind of content people share and engage with on Facebook is crucial, Furhmann says. “People love pictures,” she says.
Email newsletters also offer an opportunity to learn more about your audience, says Fuhrmann. “We switched over to MailChimp from Constant Contact, and never looked back. Who else did?” Many hands in the room went up. “One of the things I love about MailChimp is that it has great analytics. One of our hobbies in the office is looking into which of our donors actually opened our newsletter.”
It’s ten o’clock, do you know where your readers are?
Google Analytics shows you where visitors are geographically, yielding an “interest map” for each item of content.
What should you track when you’re tracking web statistics? Furhmann recommends paying attention to the following:
- Total visits — visits going up is always good, and visits going down is always bad
- Total unique visitors
- Visits per weekly unique visitor
- Pageviews per visit
- Landing page bounce rates
- Visits from new v. returning visitors
- Percentage of homepage entries
“Chartbeat is another analytics tool,” says Fuhrmann, one that shows current visitors on your site — it even emails you when you hit a new high of concurrent visitors on your site. “Google analytics can analyze the optimum placement for fire hydrants — Chartbeat can tell you your house is on fire.”
Furhmann also uses Google Alerts to track mentions of the Wisconsin Center and their work. “Has anybody seen their Google Alerts drop way off? We have too. But there’s good news, there’s a new tool called Mention.net that tracks mentions,” says Fuhrmann, “but for $20 a month we are tracking 10,000 mentions a month,” across the web and social platforms like Facebook.
Since the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism releases its work through other media outlets, Fuhrmann also spends time manually collecting who publishes their work where in a collection of Google spreadsheets. “We map all the data and publish it on our website,” says Fuhrmann, showing a map from their site to show every pickup of their stories since 2009.
“If you take only one thing away from this, it’s ‘Simplify,'” says Fuhrmann. “There’s so much data and so many tools that it’s overwhelming. Pick the metrics that are key to your organization, and pay attention to those.”
Lauren Fuhrmann can be followed on Twitter, where she is @LaurenFuhrmann.
CJET is sponsored by The Patterson Foundation and the Knight Foundation and is designed to give independent news organization leaders business skills and mentoring.