Opinion

Mumbrella’s first birthday: how are we doing?

Robin HicksMumbrella Asia turns one today. Happy birthday to us.

So, how are we doing? Is our progress worth a birthday cake and champagne?

I’m a glass half empty sort of person, and I’d say it’s not quite time to be cracking open the bubbly.

Yes, we’re growing, as you can see from this Google Analytics chart that looks at our traffic from month to month over the year. If we take out the viral spikes from September and December, the trend is upwards. But the curve could be steeper.

Mumbrella Asia growth

Some days it feels that we’re really making headway. We break a good story, publish a decent interview, and get lucky by reaching a bigger audience than we would do normally. Other days it feels like we’re getting nowhere. After a good day, the traffic slumps back to the regular fare of roughly 2,000 visits a day and it feels like the hard work isn’t paying off.

Here are some other numbers that give you some idea how we’ve done over the last 12 months:

  • Unique browsers: 307,253
  • Page views: 629,813
  • Newsletters sent: 107
  • Newsletter subscribers: 4,877
  • Facebook fans: 917
  • Twitter followers: 1,633

Where we could improve, I think, is the basics of blogging – giving the reader a reason to come back to the site regularly. Not just to see what’s new on the site, but to join in a conversation and be part of a community.

You’ll notice that the comments section on Mumbrella Asia, though improving in recent months (a playful tussle between Timothy and Edward in the comment thread on a recent opinion piece by Simon Kearney was particularly entertaining), is church-like compared to the non-stop chatter on our Australian sister, Mumbrella.com.au.

Is this because of cultural differences between Asia and Australia? Are Australians more likely to banter in comment threads online? Possibly. But that’s not really an excuse when both sites enable readers to comment anonymously.

For the 13,000 posts we’ve published over the past 12 months, we’ve only received 894 comments (that we could publish). And that’s a worry.

What makes a good Mumbrella story, whether it’s a news story or an opinion piece (here’s how to write one, by the way), is a point of contention. Something around which debate can form. We clearly have not found enough of that sort of stuff.

Beyond the hard numbers, I’d say we’re doing okay.

The feedback from you about our content has mostly been good. But I’m told some of you want longer, more indepth feature articles with an investigative bent, and perhaps less of the lighter stuff you’ll find in Dr Mumbo… which by the way is by far our most clicked-on page tab). Fair enough.

We’ve launched two events, the Content Marketing Academy in Singapore, where we’ve opened an office, and our first Mumbrella Question Time in Hong Kong. Both went pretty well.

We’ve expanded our annual conference in Sydney, Mumbrella360, to include the rest of the region with an Asian stream and have widened our awards categories to include Asia too.

We’ve made a few friends. And we’ve fallen out with a few people too, who no longer send us press releases – the price you pay for exposing an agency for scam and copycatting, perhaps? As I said a year ago when we launched, not everyone is going to like us.

But despite an okay start, I’m proud of one thing. We’ve written about issues that we think are important, rather than fads that we think aren’t, and will not shirk from reporting a story because it could upset an advertiser.

Scam in Singapore, the commission system in Indiacorruption in Indonesiadeath from overworkself censorship in the media, the decline of press freedom in Asia. All are fair game, in our view. You’ll see more of that, and in more depth, in the coming weeks.

What we need to do more of, I think, is to start conversations and give you, the reader, better reasons to join in.

Do let me know how else we can move things forward.

Robin Hicks

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