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PROpenMic celebrates six months online :: How are we doing compared to other sites?

If you just want the stats and graphs, follow this to see them below.

Our social network for public relations students, PROpenMic.org will celebrate six months online on October 1st.

Allow me to begin by thanking all of the members. So many people have helped with advice and guidance along the way. I appreciate all of your help. I also appreciate the involvement of our volunteer administrators (in no particular order): Phil Gomes, Edelman; Kelli Matthews, University of Oregon; Tiffany Derville Gallicano, University of Oregon; Mihaela Vorvoreanu, Clemson University; Karen Russell, University of Georgia; Kaye Sweetser, University of Georgia; and, Barbara Nixon, Georgia Southern University. Not only do they help with the site, but they allow me to bother them asking questions all the time. :o) I really do appreciate their contributions.

Ironically, we started on April Fool’s Day. Some people suggested there really wasn’t a need for such a site. I’ll admit that I had no idea how the site would be received. Although having thought (for a few years) about how we could create a site that truly pulled people together from around the world, I actually built and launched the site in one evening. Funny, huh?

As of this writing, PROpenMic has 2,366 members listed. They hail from well over 40 countries around the world and over 140 different colleges and universities. Further, we have practitioners from hundreds of large and small agencies all over the world. Also, you’ll find internal PR practitioners from Fortune 500 firms, state governments, nonprofits, education and much more.

I’ll write another post later about stories from PROpenMic members and how the site has helped people make connections. This post is more of a “how are we doing” in our efforts to attract an audience.

So, I thought I’d do a little research into how well we’re doing regarding traffic and compare PROpenMic’s activity to similar sites with a public relations focus. That proved to be a bit difficult, because there really isn’t any other social network site similar to PROpenMic with regard to its primary focus on PR students and faculty. So, I chose the closest examples I could find.

Below, you’ll see a comparison of PROpenMic to the following sites:

Some caveats before we begin. (Nope, I just want the numbers/graphs, please.)

These are just stats from sites that are used by others to gauge a site’s activity level. With regard to all of the stats below, we must retain perspective. Some of this is a bit of apples and oranges. The seven sites cover similar issues, but they all have a different focus with regard to who they are trying to reach and how they are going about it.

PROpenMic.org is the only nonprofit education site among the seven that never charges anything for anything. And, only two of the sites are nonprofit: PROpenMic and SNCR. :o) By that, I mean PROpenMic.org has no ads, does not require a paid subscription to view, and it is not being used to sell/market other services. So, that distinguishes PROpenMic from all six other sites. But, there really aren’t any sites similar to PROpenMic, so I chose some that I feel are at least similar in some ways. The primary similarity is, of course, all seven sites have public relations as their focus, at least in part.

OK, sorry if some of that is redundant, but I feel it is important to retain that perspective. Read the following and let me know what you think. Is this surprising, or does it make perfect sense? The traffic and participation numbers / rate for PROpenMic seem to compare well to some other public relations sites. Some of them are social networks. The others are public relations news sites.

PROpenMic.org has only been online for six months (as of October 1st). The others have been online for more than a year. Some have been online for three years to almost a decade.

  • MyRagan.com is at least 18 months old.
  • SNCR.org dates back to July of 2005.
  • Communitelligence.com dates back to May of 2004.
  • HigherEdExperts.com dates back to February of 2002.
  • HolmesReport.com dates back to at least February of 2001.
  • ODwyerPR.com dates back to December of 1998.

Source for those dates is the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Please also note that some of them may not have been operating as networks. For instance, I don’t think HigherEdExperts.com has actually been in operation for more than three years in its present form.

Over 50% of PROpenMic.org’s membership are practitioners or faculty members. So, we aren’t exactly a predominately youth driven site.

That’s one of the reasons why I’m a bit surprised at how well we stack up against such sites as MyRagan, O’Dwyer’s and the Holmes Report.

Unique visitors to sites as tallied by Compete.com. (See graphs of these stats below.)

  • propenmic.org: 6,172
  • myragan.com: 6,100
  • holmesreport.com: 1,900
  • odwyerpr.com: 8,593
  • communitelligence.com: 3,028
  • sncr.org: 8,280
  • higheredexperts.com: 2,035

Rank monthly from Compete.com. Compete ranks the top one million websites in the U.S. based on the number of people the domain attracts each month. Important: The lower the number, the better your site’s ranking. For instance, Yahoo’s rank is 1. They have the most traffic of all. (See graphs of these stats below.)

  • propenmic.org: 216,328
  • myragan.com: 218,496
  • holmesreport.com: 570,293
  • odwyerpr.com: 163,953
  • communitelligence.com: 391,514
  • SNCR.org: 169,221
  • higheredexperts.com: 539,344

The number of visits made to a site. A person can only be counted as one person in a month, but can make multiple site visits. (See graphs of these stats below.)

  • propenmic.org: 8,954
  • myragan.com: 7,062
  • holmesreport.com: 2,176
  • odwyerpr.com: 9,963
  • communitelligence.com: 3,195
  • SNCR.org: 10,979
  • higheredexperts.com: 2,035

The number of pages an average person views on each visit to a domain. (See graphs of these stats below.)

  • propenmic.org: 16.0
  • myragan.com: 4.5
  • holmesreport.com: 3.9
  • odwyerpr.com: 2.5
  • communitelligence.com: 1.5
  • SNCR.org: 3.2
  • higheredexperts.com: 8.4

The number of minutes an average visitor spends on a site during each visit. (See graphs of these stats below.)

  • propenmic.org: 05:30
  • myragan.com: 03:15
  • holmesreport.com: 04:12
  • odwyerpr.com: 02:49
  • communitelligence.com: 04:08
  • SNCR.org: 03:26
  • higheredexperts.com: 06:36

Alexa rankings for five sites: (See graphs of these stats below.)

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The graphs below help illustrate the results above. I had to place them at the end because they are wider than my blog’s layout allows higher up in the post. Please note, both Alexa and Compete only allow you to compare five sites at one time, so that explains the missing results for SNCR.org and HigherEdExperts.com. But, you can follow the links in the stats above and search for those sites, if you wish.

In MarketLeap.com, I searched for the links existing to the sites. Here is the resulting link popularity check table. Note: The link popularity check determines the number of links to a site found in the search engines like: Google, AOL, HotBot, Yahoo!, FAST, AltaVista. Remember, PROpenMic.org is (a) only six months old and (b) only our first page, the front page, is indexed by search engines. (The other sites listed in the table are provided by MarketLeap so you may compare your site to others with similar link totals.)

Here is one Alexa graph from searches for the sites. We are the blue line. Look, I’m not trying to be cocky here, but note how we tend to spike way above the other sites from time to time. Some of that is due to the people that share the site with others, like Peter Shankman, for example, through his Help A Reporter (HARO) emails. Peter has sent us more members than anyone else. Many thanks for that, too.

The following five graphs are representative of results from Compete.com.

We have a very respectable length of time spent on the site per visitor. Remember, this is an average. Some stay longer, some scoot away quickly. We are the blue line, and as you’ll see, we’re ahead of all others. Pretty cool, huh.

For pages per visit, we are again way above the other sites. Our users visit almost twice the number of pages than the closest other site. We’re four times ahead of others.

Our number of unique visitors is exceeded by only ODwyerPR.com.

Our traffic rank is exceeded only by ODwyerPR.com and SNCR.org, and not by much considering the relative youth of our site.

Finally, our overall visits are higher than all other sites, except ODwyerPR.com. And, we feel compelled to remind you … they are a business with actual staff, writers and budgets. ;o) They pay people. What a concept.

First, apologies for the length of the post. Second, I think this is a good example of how an idea, with no funding behind it, can serve a niche audience and compare very well to other commercial sites.

Examples?

MyRagan.com, HolmesReport.com, Communitelligence.com and ODwyerPR.com are businesses. They have enormous resources behind them. They pay writers. They have IT staffs. They have, um … what’s the word? Money! :o)

MyRagan.com doesn’t charge for you to participate in their site, but it has ads (for their own products/services, like their store) and they do use email to members to market their services. Essentially, they built the site to capture an audience and market the many fee based services, seminars and more offered by Ragan Communications, like: MyRagan, MyRaganTV, Jobs and Message Boards, eNewsletters, Newsletters, eTraining and Consulting.

The Holmes Report costs $50 a month, or $295 a year, for an individual subscription.

ODwyer’s PR/Marcom costs $25 a month, or $150 a year, for an individual subscription.

Communitelligence does not charge a fee for you to participate in their site, but it does have ads and they use the site to market the many fee based services, seminars and more offered by Communitelligence Inc. You’ll see examples of their family of Web sites at that link.

Hey, I’m not faulting any of those businesses for trying to make a buck. I’m saying that you don’t have to have all of those resources – in some instances – to build a site where many people will find utility and value.

Now, SNCR.org is the Society for New Communications Research. It “is a global nonprofit 501(c)(3) think tank dedicated to the advanced study of the latest developments in new media and communications, and their effect on traditional media and business models, communications, culture and society.” And, full disclosure required, I’m a founding fellow of the organization. Bless Jennifer McClure’s heart, there isn’t much of an infrastructure behind all of her work and efforts compared to those businesses. But, look at the success the SNCR site has garnered. Again, you don’t necessarily need money to attract an audience. True, SNCR does use its site to market publications and conferences, but hardly close to the level of those other sites.

HigherEdExperts.com is the baby of Karine Joly. It, too, does not have the wealth of resources behind it in comparison to the businesses above. It is also likely one of the most niche sites of all in this list of seven. Karine has, what – maybe 20-30,000 people in the U.S. to draw from (as in Higher Education Web practitioners?). I’m probably way too high in that estimate, actually. Karine does not run ads, but does promote her own Webinars and other offerings on the site and via email.

Karine has a Web designer, a graphic designer and … well, Karine. :o) She also has a great advisory board. Oh, and lest I forget … she has her great social network participants.

OK, that wraps up my overview of where we are, how we compare to other sites and, I hope, a persuasive example of how an unfunded project (I pay for everything, so I do it for as little as I can pay) can actually bring a lot of people together for a positive purpose.

What do you think?



12 comments

  1. Robert, it is great to see such a strong community forming around PR Open Mic. From the stats you described, we can see that not only do we attract many people, but people also choose to stay on our site for a while when they visit. Thank you so much for your vision, commitment, and stamina.

    P.S. Look out for a new wave of ducks in the coming weeks. We begin classes on Monday.

  2. Hi Robert –

    Very interesting, and thanks for including us. I’d be interested to see how http://www.Newcommreview.com fared – given that SNCR.org is really quite a static organizational site and NewCommReview is our interactive news site with much more participation by our Fellows and up-to-the-minute content – much more comparable to some of the others you mentioned.

    Best –

    Jen

  3. Hey Jen,

    Thanks. A comparison of SNCR.org, NewCommReview.com and PROpenMic.org is below.

    And, this link to Compete.com shows the comparison so you can modify it for other stats. You’ll need to create an account (it is free) so you can compare 5 sites at a time.

    Just looking at it quickly, if you combine the two sites (SNCR & NewCommReview), you’re kicking everyone’s rear. ;o) But, SNCR.org still has more traffic than NewCommReview.

  4. That is so cool. Thanks so much Robert! Fascinating!

    PROpenmic is wonderful, and congratulations again on the success this site has achieved in such a short time.

    And it’s the SNCR Fellows like you that make SNCR so successful!

    Best wishes and many thanks for all you do!

    Jen

  5. Robert:

    Congratulations on your astounding growth — well, not yours exactly, the site’s. That’s fantastic news and I always find this site interesting browsing and reading. Great job and I’m proud to be a small part of it.

  6. Loved your presentation at the PRCA State Conference in Montgomery last week — thanks for sharing, there and here and everywhere else.

    What have you found about the accuracy of the statistics on sites like Compete and Alexa? I assume you’ve embedded some type of analytics for your site(s) — which website comparison tool gives the most accurate stats? Any caveats about using the data?
    LORI

  7. Hey, Evelyn! Thank you. We’re glad you’re involved in PROpenMic. I’m particularly happy to have there as it gives the students an opportunity to see school district PR and how a journalist can shift to the field. Thanks for participating!

  8. Hey, Lori! Thanks, I enjoyed meeting with all of you in Montgomery.

    The stats from all of these tracking services have to be taken in perspective. I know none of them are exact. In the cases above, they match well with our Google Analytics stats.

    There are caveats in each. Alexa will tell you that any stats for a site with a rank above 100,000 should be viewed with caution. They don’t have enough data to make a deeper evaluation. The same is likely for Compete because they, too, are using publicly available data.

    Even Google Analytics isn’t exact. Server caching will diminish the page counts & visit totals. If the code required to count a hit is at the bottom of the page, and a visitor immediately clicks another link, then that visit won’t be counted. Ning.com (our software platform), for instance, caches pages. So, one would guess that our numbers are actually higher. But, who knows. :o) It goes on and on.

    In my opinion, the best aspect of all these sites are when we take them as a longitudinal study over a long period of time. If they track with consistency – and any spikes can be matched with unique happenings on those dates – then you can better judge them to at least reveal a pattern. Still, the numbers are not exact.

    That’s why I shared multiple examples from different sites. I don’t have the Google Analytics (or other stats) from the other sites, so I didn’t include them. I have nothing to compare them to. But, I did compare the numbers after you commented and they do show the same / similar numbers and trends / spikes in our site.

    When I first started blogging, I looked at stats all the time. Now, it is rare if I even look at them once a month. The reason? I discovered that numbers aren’t that important for what I’m doing, with one exception. If I know the population of my target audiences and I see a significant percentage of those audiences being reached, well … then I’ve done my job.

    Of course, I’m not selling anything. So, that would be a whole different story on a commercial site. That’s what surprised me about how well we did against commercial sites that have staffs, budgets and resources that are – at minimum – in the million dollar range.

    Hope that helps. Thanks!

    P.S. By the way, nothing beats looking at the server logs. However, since we’re using Ning.com as our platform, we don’t have access to the server logs. :o)

  9. Thanks for your insight. We have clients who are using Alexa as their prefered tracking method for their advertising on whnt.com and those numbers don’t exactly jive with ours — which of course made me wonder about the data it offers on our competitors performance.

    But that doesn’t mean that the info isn’t “directionally” accurate. You’re right — if the spikes are in the right place, it’s useful. Just one more thing to add to the monitoring mix.

    PS — Did I overlook the link of brand and buzz monitoring tools? I wrote as fast as I could at the PRCA conference (!) but I feel like I missed some that you recommended.

  10. Hey Lori,

    Yeah, Alexa has lots of flaws. But, as a longitudinal long term study, it has its place and purpose. I think we’d all prefer that advertisers take a broader look and sample many sources. Such is the world, though.

    I’m sorry, I haven’t posted the links yet. My apologies. I’ve just been swamped. I pray I’ll get the post up today. I’ve got it almost done.

    I’ll get it up there as soon as I can.

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