By the numbers: The Verge Features
As of May 12th, 2012 there have been 235 features published, here on The Verge. These features are what make The Verge stand out. To get the amount of notoriety it deserves, the power of the web and social matter. Social sharing through outlets or networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn all help bring readers and viewers to these features.
With The Verge being just over 6 months old I was curious to see how these features were being shared over the web, through social networks and if there was any pattern or trend. It all started with "Condo at the End of the World" by Joseph L. Flatley with "Offline: Ghost Limbs" by Paul Miller being the most recent one of record.
For all the number geeks there were a total of 150,142 shares as of writing this. Facebook with 55,444 shares makes up 36.93%, Twitter with 68,342 makes up 45.52%, Google+ with 19,060 shares makes up 12.69%, and finally LinkedIn with 7,296 shares makes up 4.86% of the total shares.
And over a 6 months time there is a 3 month divide or mark where the difference in the amount of shares per article is narrowing down, which can be noticed in the accompanying line graph with Facebook in blue, Twitter in red, Google+ in green, and LinkedIn in purple (click for larger size).
- Starting around the 140th feature the amount of share difference that I previously mentioned can be noticed.
- Facebook and Twitter are the preferred networks
- Facebook doesn't handle high technical headlines very well
- With lower amount of shares across the board, Twitter will be among the highest
- Full-length image features perform better
- Headlines that are simple and offer/propose a mission perform better
- An author's notoriety and voice is important
- If seen as a valuable long-term resource it performs better
- The prior 118 features were focused more on Twitter
- The later 117 features were focused more on every platform with Facebook doing better
- Investigative journalism and exclusivity is attractive
- Certain sections have stronger focus by the overall community
- Good thing the focus of gaming will soon be in the hands of a new dedicated community over at Polygon
The reasons why certain features did well that this simple graph of social shares doesn't cover is immense. Some reasons include the timing associated with each posting of the feature, how the social network was utilized, who composed the feature with people having a certain taste, whether the feature had a full-length image or not, the headline itself, and what kind of outside publicity it received.
I haven't fully analyzed and matched each article to the original graph, but I did find that the features that had a full-length image usually did better as well as ones with a simple, creative, and turning headline.
For your own pleasing and analysis, I've also included the original chart of data with each feature/article name accompanying the number of social shares. It starts with one at the top and goes down to #235 (divided in thirds) for referring to the original line graph. Again Facebook is blue, Twitter is red, Google+ is green, and LinkedIn is purple.
A Developing Social Web
The practice of being able to take a piece of work, in this case a feature by The Verge, and allow others to view and then share the work even more is powerful. Not only does something of great quality get shared with many, but figuring out why something didn't get shared with many holds a desire to fix.
Unmeasured factors that I've previously mentioned figure into how the work and the way it's marketed might be improved upon.
One factor that I didn't touch on is the technology powering social networks and Chorus. The Verge is just one publisher and one community. When nothing is wrong with the content you have to assume that the technology behind these systems is flawed.
The socialization of the web is still developing, but there is always room for improvement on the creation side. The strong merit work being created will be shared amongst the appropriate individuals. An analysis like this is just the beginning.
Again I gathered this data because I was curious to know what work gets shared the most. By no means am I an analysis. I'm just an aspiring Editor-in-chief.
I believe we can create content to benefit from the social web even though the socialization of the web isn't fully developed. In the end, these numbers are to be used only as a tool. Whether you use that tool, a different tool, or both is entirely up to you.