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SPSSI Meets Web 2.0
By Susan Dudley, Executive Director
In just about any professional association, communications to and among members are a critically important aspect of both mission fulfillment and member satisfaction. The array of options for reaching out to members today is ever-increasing, and we believe they’ve added value to SPSSI membership. Here’s a quick summary of the status of our Web and Web 2.0 efforts.
The SPSSI Website: One of our ongoing website goals has been to keep the content fresh and up-to-date so that it will be a destination that anyone interested in our activities will want to browse on a regular basis to get news and announcements more quickly than in the past. We also want our website to attract new users (and new members) who may not have been familiar with SPSSI before. Our usage statistics for the past year suggest good progress toward these goals.
• We’ve had 57,839 visits to our site over the past 12 months! Google Analytics benchmarking against all sites of similar size rates this at 10% above the mean.
• Our users are viewing an average of 4.24 pages per visit (23% above similar sites), leading to 233,520 total page views (36% higher than comparable sites).
• Visitors linger 23.4% longer on our site than on others of similar size.
• While about 2/3 of our visitors have come to the site for the first time this year, we also have 578 who have returned between 100 and 200 times, and 693 who have logged more than 200 visits each!
• After the homepage, the awards section is the most popular destination on our website, with more than 10,500 page views in the last year. The recent announcement about our RFA for Special Projects funding alone drew 639 unique visitors!
• An underused web resource is our Member Directory. Visible only to logged-in SPSSI members, the directory has been viewed 3799 times in the last year, but all that was by only 20 members!
Web 2.0 refers generally to interactive applications including wikis, social networking sites, hosted services, and other web-based information sharing functions – several of which SPSSI has adopted in the past year. As more and more users have migrated to high speed internet connections, these applications have become more popular. Today, fewer than 2% of SPSSI’s site visitors come to us over dial-up connections.
• RSS (Real Simple Syndication) Postings: SPSSI’s RSS has, until recently, focused primarily on policy news and announcements. Our RSS policy posts can be viewed directly from our homepage, or they can be delivered to the user’s browser page. Estimating RSS subscriber pickup is complicated because a user only needs to sign up once to get access to all posted content. Our best subscriber estimate is inferred from the fact that our page generated more than 585 unique page views (meaning that a refresh or returning individual is not counted a second time) since it went live last October.
• Facebook: Peter Bronis, in Bratislava, Slovakia was way ahead of us in 2007 when he first set up a SPSSI Facebook page to facilitate interactions with other SPSSI members. Since August of this year, the page has been administered by Central Office staff. It now regularly reaches 371 “fans”, and has logged 4132 page views. Our Facebook users live in 20 countries, and 65% are female. The age distribution: 18-24 (11%); 25-34 (47%); 35-44 (23%); 45-54 (10%); and 55+ (6%).
• Twitter: SPSSI joined Twitter about three months ago. We now have 43 people following our posts, and we’d like to see this number grow significantly in coming months. What can we accomplish within the constraints of 140 characters? Twitter has proven to be a very effective channel for delivery of web links to a wide range of information of potential interest to our members. When Twitter posts are delivered as text messages to members’ phones, we can be sure that they’ll be informed when we open conference registration or election balloting, and we can direct attention to other important SPSSI news.
• SPSSI Forum: The forum is our newest Web 2.0 venture. It was launched in October, and we’re just beginning to build a following for this tool which is housed on the SPSSI website, and accessed under the Membership tab. Members can log on to the forum and join discussions or access announcements about policy, events, awards, the Early Career Scholars program, the Two-tiered Academic Labor Force, job opportunities, and more.
What’s next in our communications efforts? We’ll continue monitoring member interest in each of tools we’ve already initiated, and we’ll keep looking for new ones that will contribute positively to our SPSSI community. Adding a social bookmarking capacity to our site is on the horizon. There are a number of options, including Digg, Delicious, Mixx, Reddit, Stumbleupon, and Squido. If you have experience and preferences about which of these sites you’d like to see us adopt, or if you have any ideas about how we can continue to communicate better with you, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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