Posts Tagged ‘time spent’

Engagement, not unique visitors should be No. 1 goal

Friday, October 2, 2009 13:51 - by

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:

The average Facebook user spent 5 hours and 14 minutes on the site in July, whereas the average user spent about 14 minutes.

Which one of those users is more valuable? Obviously, Facebook users are much more dedicated users than users. Facebook is also getting less drive by users, and drive by users aren’t that valuable. 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.

About BeatBlogging.Org was a grant-funded journalism project that studied how journalists used social media and other Web tools to improve beat reporting. It ran for about two years, ending in the fall of 2009.

New content is occasionally produced here by the this project's former editor Patrick Thornton. The site is still up and will remain so because many journalists and professors still use and link to the content. offers a fascinating glimpse into the former stages of journalism and social media. Today it's expected that journalists and journalism organization use social media, but just a few years ago that wasn't the case.