Unique visitors can be very misleading, especially since so many Web users are drive by users that stop by to view one Web page, before quickly going elsewhere.
What’s more important is how we engage with our users. Drive by users aren’t worth nearly as much to advertisers (or to content producers) as dedicated users. Try this statistic on for good measure:
Which one of those users is more valuable? Obviously, Facebook users are much more dedicated users than NYTimes.com users. Facebook is also getting less drive by users, and drive by users aren’t that valuable. NYTimes.com is one of the better journalism sites out there, and it does fairly well — as far as news sites are concerned — with time spent per user per month.
But news sites — and most Web sites — can learn a lot from leading social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is continually adding more features to make Facebook sticker: chat, applications (popular games like Farmville are making the site very sticky), the news feed, etc. In fact, time spent on Facebook has soared 699 percent since April 2008.
News organizations need to figure out how to grok what leading social networks are doing, because news Web sites need to get stickier. Clearly, people want to be social. News organizations need to embrace being social and start engaging their users better. News has to become a conversation.
Getting more users is good, but getting more engagement out of each user is better.