I was reading through the comments on The Orion's Facebook page this morning and noticed a reader (a former copy chief) had pointed out how few posts about stories had appeared on the feed. Taking a closer look, I saw the paper had mostly promoted the print edition of the paper up to that point (Sept. 19, almost a month into the school year).
The posts change after that. They promote specific stories and articles, but news mostly takes a backseat to opinion and arts and entertainment articles. That's better than general posts about the paper but not the most effective way to attract an audience because traffic statistics consistently show that news is the most read content on theorion.com.
It wasn't until this week that the Facebook page had a post every day. Still, the most popular Orion article of the week, an opinion piece about out-of-towners spoiling Halloween, wasn't one of the stories promoted.
That slow start for social media has had consequences for site traffic. Here are the analytics for the first 10 weeks of Spring Semester 2017 and the first 10 weeks of the current semester (click to see a larger version of each).
Last spring, the number of visits to theorion.com was 72,838. About a third of those visits started in a social media app, and 86 percent of those were from Facebook.
This fall, the number of total visits was just 50,034, 31 percent less than the spring numbers. Social referrals accounted for 10,045 of those, down 57 percent from last spring. Traffic that started on Facebook was 7,706 visits compared to 20,299 last spring. That difference accounts for more than half of the decline in traffic overall.
The PR team has now started using Hootsuite, an online social media management tool, so I hope posting will become more effective and consistent. It's up to reporters and section editors, though, to make sure stories and articles are posted to social media much more often.
That's just part of the the job now for journalists.