Last week made my head spin. As I continue with my biochemistry degree, I spectate the new media sphere as it twists and turns; I occasionally pass comment on it, either on this blog, on twitter, or in some other forum, for example, the comments sections of other sites. I happened to leave a couple of comments on Fred Wilson’s blog, a high profile venture capitalist based in New York primarily investing in young US-based dotcoms.
The comments, innocuous though I thought they were, must have caught his eye. He highlighted one, then the other, on his blog – both to give them some exposure because they echoed his own view or provided some new insight, and the second time round, to provide a case study in how social networking is evolving as we find new ways of having adult, mature conversations, in the open where anyone can learn from and join in. Twitter and blog comments are just two venues for open conversation, and open conversation and open social networking is headed somewhere BIG (the topic for a future blog post). The purpose of this post is to continue Fred’s case study with hard data. Here are three graphs I’ve put together to illustrate social networking activity that unwittingly resulted from an open conversation. Graphs a and b describe what happened to my site. Graph c shows what happened across various social networks.
a) Number of unique site visitors:new, returning, and total
b) Site ‘stickyness’: bounce rate (% of people who left without viewing another page) and time on site
c) New social ‘connects’
- the ‘Fred Wilson Effect’ lasted a week, not longer. It peaked on the day of FW’s second post (which was the most flattering of the two; the first, though it highlighted something I’d said, did not say anything about ‘me’ – the second was more closely linked to my identity) and then a second peak on the following Monday, 2 days later – which says something about either when people read FW’s blog, or when people do their ‘social networking’
- while it lasted, it brought very curious readers, way above average – average time spent on site was up, bounce rate down, and average number of pages visited also went up; traffic to my ‘About’ page was much higher than usual (last 2 metrics not shown here).
- there were few cases where someone tracked me on 2 or more social networking tools; most people seem to have 1 choice social tool for making connects of this type, primarily Twitter. I have no data on new subscribers to otcc (this site)’s RSS feed but I would typically class that as another type of social connect.
Wider points to consider:
- the 4 services in chart 3 above are the 4 you can access in-page from FW’s blog (see image below), highlighting the importance a) of widgets making it easy to form a connect (rather than if fred had just mentioned me, then people had to google me), and b) that people are educated/encouraged to use these widgets – as part of his case study post, FW basically takes people through that process by describing what he just did
- though this post has focused on the metrics of decentralised social networking based around open conversations (“open social networking“), it’s not really a numbers game: more important than the number of new connects was their quality. Three new connects resulted from this open conversation that made my head spin. The first of course was Fred; the second was the CEO of a startup (Tom Keller at Intense Debate) trying to do something in the market which my comment touched upon – he was impressed with the insight and wanted to pick my brains about the market and strategy. This impressed him further, so much so he personally recommend me to Brad Feld – another VC which, like Fred, I hold in such high regard that it literally made my head spin to hear him say “Phil – great to meet you. Happy to help. Tell me a little more.” and later “View me as a resource anytime.”
That’ll sound pathetic to most readers of this piece. But for a complete outsider/spectator to the new media world, a casual observer just starting out in adult life (the low, low traffic to this site illustrates that perfectly), last week was both a privilege and an adrenaline rush. And an open conversation was all that was needed to create that opportunity. What an amazing world we live in – barriers have come tumbling down; we’re now in a read/write world where you can access and interact with the people you truly admire; and that’s a fantastic state of affairs, I hope you’ll agree.