Every time a Rapidian visitor "shares" a story with others:
*the project becomes more valuable to our community
*volunteer reporters feel more encouraged and appreciated
*the possibility to sustain citizen journalism in Grand Rapids becomes even more realistic.
Other articles by the same author
Other articles by this author
It's no surprise to you that we make a big deal about the importance of our community of volunteer Rapidian reporters. The entire model of The Rapidian depends on local people stepping up to report the news, not merely consume it. We continue to be pleased at the quantity and quality of citizen reporting on the Rapidian.
There is another piece of the model that is also critical to the ultimate value of the project; and just like reporting, it requires the active participation of many people. I am talking about how content connects with an audience. Currently we have a number of different methods for delivering the Rapidian stories. About 30% of Rapidian visitors come to the site directly by typing in the URL. Another 30% find us through search engines like Google and Yahoo. But the biggest share of traffic (currently almost 40%) is generated through "referring sites" like Facebook and Twitter. And in our attempts to create connections and conversation though community generated media, social media is the tool that can be most effectively leveraged.
Consider for a minute a recent evaluation done by the website Eventbrite which revealed that each individual Facebook share delivered an average 11 visits back to their site. The technology news site TechCrunch reports that social media distribution platform ShareThis has been measuring social reach and has found that nearly 36% of links shared are actually clicked upon. This means that if someone with 100 Facebook friends shares a Rapidian story with a link, 36 people are likely to actually click on it.
The Rapidian has well over 2000 “fans” on Facebook. Let's assume that our Facebook fans have at least the average 130 friends. If not quite half of our fans shared just one story each week, we would see 46,800 visits a month from this friendly distribution alone. Why do these numbers matter? Because each new reader means one new person connected to the information and ideas put out by their friends and neighbors. Higher numbers increase the liklihood that we will hear and see even more diverse points of view. Increased sharing and feedback will provide encouragement for the volunteer reporters who work hard to bring the information to light. More overall participation increases the possibility that we can sustain the project through sponsorships, grants and contributions.
Even if you are not a writer, videographer or photographer currently submitting content, there’s a mighty important role for you, too. When you see a story on the Rapidian that resonates with you or has information you think your friends might be interested in, use the share tools on the page to pass it along via Twitter or Facebook. If you want to do more, feel free to pass along through email or electronic newsletters, or join a number of our friends and partners and create a link to the Rapidian on your website. The Rapidian belongs to all of us. If you value it, help spread the news!
Publisher of The Rapidian and Executive Director of Community Media Center (parent organization of The Rapidian). Over 20 years in noncommercial media and technology. Proud wife, mom, part time artist, and general busybody. Loves local history, travel, flea markets and all things "foodie".
Reports on: General Rapidian news, op-eds, social media & communications strategy, community development, arts