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Site Stuff: How do we reach new readers?

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Greg Wawro, our model target subscriber, in Sunrise, Fla. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

The greatest challenge for any business is finding new customers. We aren't an exception.

The greatest priority for any business is keeping those customers, but that's another subject for another day.

We're well into our fifth year here, so we're not exactly new anymore. And because of our social media reach, our TV and radio relationships and, of course, word-of-mouth among our subscribers, it's safe to say that we're well enough known in the Pittsburgh market. We can still do better, I'm sure, but it's not like mentioning us to someone will draw a blank stare the way it might have a couple years ago.

So, where do we find new readers? And how?

Start with a single word: Steelers.

See that happy man in the pic above?

That's Greg Wawro, and this was snapped at our subscriber meetup a few days ago in Sunrise, Fla. He told me and Matt Sunday, with great pride, that he signed up only to read Dale Lolley's Steelers coverage. He'd loved Dale's previous work at the Washington Observer-Reporter, as well as his presence on Steelers Nation Radio, and that got him aboard.

As you can see up there, this made me very happy, as well. Because that's our target. That's the next level for this little business.

This is a very unusual fan base, in that it's spread all over creation. We talk about that a ton among ourselves. The Steelers are more akin to Manchester United or other international soccer powers, in that they're a worldwide brand with fans everywhere. Thus, it's very, very safe to say they've got many times the number of fans who don't live in Pittsburgh or even Western Pennsylvania, compared to what they've got right here in our region.

That might best explain why the Penguins' page views here have always been No. 1 while the Steelers are No. 2. The Penguins' fan base is primarily local, as they'll tell you themselves, and they're stunningly strong in the younger demographics around here. And since our site is infinitely better known locally than it would be anywhere else, our readership reflects that.

So we have to try a little harder to reach Steelers fans, to put it mildly.

That's one of a billion tasks on Hunter Homistek's plate since he came aboard a few months ago, and it helps that he's hugely knowledgeable about both the Steelers and the NFL. In addition to helping Dale Lolley on the actual beat, he's crafted social media that's aimed at Steelers fans far and wide. The initial goal is to get them to follow our social media accounts and, ultimately, it's to make it here to the site and sign up.

The impact goes a little like this numerically:

• For the month of January, our company Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts made 7,564,292 total impressions. To repeat, that's just our company accounts, which doesn't include our various individual accounts.

• One of Hunter's better tweets was this one ...

... that alone made 343,354 impressions and an astonishing 32,782 engagements. The latter counts the number of times a user interacted with that tweet in any form, whether to reply, retweet, like or simply watch the video play out.

Others will aim more toward replies, as we get a chance to hear from readers and maybe interact a little ourselves, like this one from yesterday:

• Our individual Twitter accounts on the staff make an impact, too. If you add up all of ours, the total is 156,606. The company account, by comparison, is at 30,140. So when Hunter puts something on the company Twitter account that he'd like to see rocket-boosted a bit, he'll ask all of us to give it an RT.

It's not a precise science. And there's a lot, lot more to it, particularly in the messed-up world of Facebook. (Don't get me started.) But our objective through all this outreach is to connect to Steelers fans principally, but also Pittsburgh sports fans of all kinds as aggressively and creatively as we can.

THE COLLEGE VIBE

Our reader-suggested Campus Chatter feed, maintained by Hunter Homistek, drew 1,222 page views for the week, down 161 from the previous week and roughly one-third of the 3,228 of its first week. That's a bummer. We'll try that much harder.

On that note, our friends at Rivals, the country's preeminent home for college sports coverage, reached out to extend an offer to all our current subscribers: Six free months to any site on their network. That's a $50 value, given that their annual subscriptions are $99.95.

The offer expires April 1. So go now to their sign-up page and apply the following code: DKRivals6FREE

CHASING 1,000 DOWNLOADS

Our ongoing goal is generating 1,000 new app installs by March 28, Major League Baseball's opening day, and we're off to a healthy start with 817 already, including 107 in the past week. In fact, this is going almost too easily, so we might need to raise the bar.

Here's where to get yours for free:

itunes googleplay

WE'RE LISTENING

• Several readers asked for Campus Chatter to be added to the menu. That's done.

• A few you have also asked for us to clean up our RSS feeds. We think we've done that, but we could use some feedback on this. If you're receiving them, let us know.

• In the imminent future, we'll be revitalizing our YouTube channel. It's currently at 723 subscribers, but the place had really been neglected by all of us. Chris Benson's going to change that. Hope you give it a look. Also hope you like how, at many readers' request, all our videos on the site and app are now available for easy landscape viewing, thanks in part to putting many of them on YouTube.

BACK TO BUSINESS

• Our daily active app users, averaged out over the past week, are at 12,302, broken down as 9,597 on Apple, 2,705 on Android.  That total's plus-236 from the previous week. This figure will always fluctuate with the seasons and the news, so the goal is a steady, gradual increase, initially to 15,000, a number we've never achieved.

• Our daily page views, averaged out over the past month, are at 66,983. That's plus-156 over the same rolling figure from a week ago. The goal with this figure is also about a steady, gradual increase, first to 100,000, a number we've achieved only during Stanley Cup runs.

• Our most-hit article of the past week -- exempting live files -- was last week's Friday Insider at 8,738, led by John Perrotto's reporting on Jameson Taillon's contract status. The Penguins accounted for 107,769 of our page views, the Pirates 55,257, the Steelers 53,527.

• We're at 29,610 (+25) page likes on Facebook, we're at 30,140 (+104) followers on Twitter, we're at 9,917 (+167) followers on Instagram, and we're at 723 (+14) followers on YouTube. These figures are just for our official company account on each platform, not for us as individuals.

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