Saturday, 11 December 2010

A Productive Week While The Car Remained Covered In Snow

Snow sceneAS IT HAPPENS I am one of those people who like inclement weather. I like driving in it, and I like being out in it – because it normally provides some good stock photographs. But this week I needed to remain at home to await some postal deliveries – so my attention turned to my Blogs.

It was the Canvey Beat to which I first turned my mind because it has a very good readership; but only when I provide a new post. I recognised, some time ago, that there was little reason for guests to return until I provided another piece – but I could not figure-out what to do about it.

I originally designed-in RSS feeds from the broadsheets; but they basically carried no more than was available on the TV news – and few guests used them. After all, had they wanted to view those particular feeds, they could have easily used their own RSS readers.

I had recently incorporated BlogSpot’s Newsreel Widget – and configured it to interrogate Google’s news database for local articles. When guests visited, that gadget was often used; but it did not pull visitors back during those times when I had no new post to offer.

I was on the right track; but I was not there yet.

What I badly needed was a way of plucking local news from the Internet; but I also needed that facility to provide updates in real-time. What, I asked myself, could I now do having discovered CoveritLive?

Now, CoveritLive provide another live panel that they term a Ticker. Basically, it is exactly the same as their regular facility; but smaller for inclusion in a side-bar and capable of being ‘left-on’ all the time. And the really interesting feature, which I had not noticed is also contained in the main panel, is the ability to scoop tweets from Twitter’s feed in real time.

CoveritLive provide the means to specify up to 24 Twitter accounts to monitor – and six different search phrases that can either be used independently or in conjunction with the specified accounts. It was just what I had been looking for – and the fact that it was Twitter based sent my head spinning.

The broadsheets use Twitter to announce new articles (so does the Daily Express). Local Government uses Twitter in addition to Websites to communicate with residents. Business groups like the Federation of Small Businesses uses Twitter to announce its latest newsletter and other facts – and many businesses, both small and large, use Twitter too.

Not only could I provide breaking local and national news using CoveritLive’s Ticker – I could also enable local businesses to send Canvey Beat readers their advertising tweets by plucking any with the #canveyisland or #castlepoint hash tags in their message. And, of course, by choosing to focus on those particular tags, I would also be publishing every locally-related tweet as well.

In fact, #castlepoint is not unique to Essex - so it does capture some tweets that are not aimed at my constituency; but they are few in number and perhaps add a little interest of their own. The scrape is not perfect; but it does perform as expected.

The number of readers now setting their home-page to the Canvey Beat (taken to be those that do not visit via a referral or just sit on the site’s homepage and refresh it from time to time) has increased from just under 25% to 43%. And the length of time spent on the site has also significantly increased. From around 30%, the number of visitors now spending between 15 minutes and over an hour on the site has increased to almost 50%.

Furthermore, those peaks and troughs between each new article are beginning to iron themselves out.

Needless to say, I have now incorporated the new feature on the British Chronicle - and here!..

No comments:

Post a Comment