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Site Stuff: Embracing the social media elephant

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The hottest thing on the Internet is ... Facebook?

Yeah, it's funny, but for as common as it's become to speak in the past tense of the world's dominant social media forum, it's still exactly that. And it isn't even remotely close.

The following graphics come from a Pew study this past summer:

It's got everything. It dominates on every level, every demographic, both here in the U.S. and abroad, all age groups, everything. And, as you can see from that xylophone immediately above, that includes growth.

Meanwhile, Twitter, which not so long ago was being touted as the next big thing, has hit a hard wall, bouncing backward 11 percent in the past year. And as the colorful graphic up top powerfully illustrates, it's being left in the dust by competitors.

What's this have to do with us?

Well, we're an odd study case. We have been from the start. The site was launched, as I often say, on the backs of the readers who've been with me the longest, a lot of the same names still found in our comments section. There was no science to that part.

But a lot of the rest came through Twitter. In the summer of 2014, my personal account had 42,000 followers. Today, it's got 121,000. Either one would be a significant number, but the growth in that went very much in line with the growth of the site. And we fed off that as the company grew. Almost all of our social media communication was through Twitter. Almost all of our promotions and everything else business-wise were through Twitter.

It served us tremendously well. It did so to the extreme that search-engine professionals, including our own Jeremy Skillings of YouCanBeFound.com, has looked at our data and just shaken his head. We're the weirdos. Everywhere else, Google searches are No. 1, Facebook No. 2 and Twitter's way down the list. Our order's been reversed.

The time is clearly here for that to change.

We've been working for nearly a month toward a hard shift onto Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, all of which are far more popular than Twitter, and all of which -- albeit in their own ways -- allow us the chance to reach more and different people than we have in the past. Even in the week or so since the Facebook operation's begun, I'm seeing and reading names I've never seen.

There really is such a thing as tapping too hard into the same pool, and maybe we've done that to this point. So again, the time clearly is here for that to change.

Here's how to follow us on the social media I've mentioned:

Facebook
YouTube
Instagram

TOPPING 40 MILLION

Well, we made it.

When 2017 formally wrapped up with the rising of the globe at the corner of Stanwix and Penn, our site/app showed 40,047,177 page views, which was nearly double the 20,679,834 from 2016.

That's kind of crazy if one considers that the years themselves -- meaning in Pittsburgh sports -- were fairly identical, with the Penguins winning a Cup in each, the Steelers making it to the second round of playoffs in each, the Pirates making everyone mad in each. So it's not like the subject matter would have brought a doubling.

We did gain subscriptions over that period, but it wasn't double. Not really easy to explain.

One other neat note from this: Our average user session was an absurdly high 5 minutes, 36 seconds. In today's short-attention span world, knowing that our readers show up and take their time is rewarding.

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