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Of course cyclingnews isn’t dead but I needed a catchy title. However, I hear one or two people mention every day that they hate the new format and have taken their business elsewhere. Yes, even though cyclingnews is a free service that we all use, your attendance to their website is making them truckloads of money. If you decide to turn elsewhere for your news, this hurts them – a lot. You can bet that advertisers are listening to this backlash and are seeing a direct effect on their traffic and sales. Here is a good example from Competitive Cyclist’s point of view, an online retailer whose ads you frequently see on cyclingnews and velonews:
In the first 6 months of 2009 our referred revenue from cyclingnews.com (i.e. purchases that occur when someone clicks through our ads there and buys something from Competitive Cyclist) has decreased by 40%. During the same period our velonews.com referred revenue has increased by 50%. Mind you, we always run the same ads simultaneously on these two sites, so it’s not a function of the quality of our ads. Our conclusion based on the money trail is that the shenanigans in the Bike Radar era has driven massive traffic from cyclingnews right into the hands of velonews.com. This is terrible news for cyclingnews, and it suggests that some sort of change had to happen. That change, of course, is their site redesign. We’ll give it 3 months. [Read full…]
The point of this post of course isn’t to start a whinge-session about the new cyclingnews website format, although you can talk about whatever you like here. The point of this post is to talk about the relevance of cyclingnews in the near future.
When twitter was first described to me I was like everyone else – why would I waste my time telling everyone how my ride was in 140 characters? Why would I care what other people are doing? Valid questions, but I hadn’t yet discovered the power of this simple web service. It took me about 100 hours of staring blankly at twitter before I began to comprehend it. Sure, there are a LOT of people out there broadcasting what they had for breakfast and other facts I care nothing about. However, there are a lot of other people out there who broadcast some very useful information. If you have the tools, you can easily filter out the good stuff.
One thing that I’ve discovered about twitter is that people are constantly sending out links about current news and happenings. This includes cycling news, results, articles, product news, commentary, etc. News has become a commodity that’s available in many different places and I no longer need to go to cyclingnews to get my fix. My cycling news now comes to me, via twitter.
The power of Twitter didn’t become obvious to me until I downloaded what’s called a “dashboard”. This is a program that sits on your computer that helps you manage and filter the heaps of noise that comes through on twitter. Tweetdeck, Seesmic, Nambu are a few examples of these twitter dashboards.
These dashboards are great because they allow you to add users to groups and filter the information they broadcast. What information you ask? Cycling information! You can do searches for cycling news and results. For example, I can follow Bradley Wiggins (@bradwiggins) and he’ll let me know directly that he’s releasing his blood bio passport information. I can follow @lancearmstrong and he’ll tell me that he’s got a new girlfriend (like I care). Follow @cyclingtips and I’ll broadcast the race results after every race I’m at. Heaps of different twitter users are continuously sending out links to various news articles and commentary. You can also follow Cyclingnews (@cyclingnewsfeed) and they’ll broadcast the same types things. Almost all the major cycling media outlets have a twitter presence.
I can also get news that cyclingnews doesn’t carry. For example, I’m following a local Aussie cyclist named Richie Porte who is racing in Italy. An incredible up and coming talent, but I never notice him on any English speaking news websites. I follow Richie (@porteye) or filter his name and also see that a guy @matt_conn is reporting his results from a website I’ve never heard of before. BTW, Richie is kicking ass at the Giro delle Valli Cuneesi. He was holding the leader’s jersey until yesterday.
Once you assemble a group of people you want to follow on a subject such as cycling, you can then simply have Twitter search for trends (common things people are talking about) and the news quite naturally bubbles to the top. Right this moment I’m getting cycling headlines delivered from dozens of different sources. I can either scan the titles, do a search on what I’m looking for, or click the “trends” button to see what’s hot. Too easy. If you look at one user’s tweet trail it probably won’t be very interesting nor relevant for the most part. The aggregate of hundreds of tweets and the ability to search, filter and trend is where twitter becomes powerful.
Don’t get me wrong – I do value good journalism and I realize that by reading what someone is twittering I’m only getting part of the story. You don’t want to start establishing facts from twitter without independent sourcing. There’s obviously still a need for credible cycling websites to report the news, however as you start to understand how to extract information out of Twitter your choice of news sources become much wider. You can find a sea of reaction, commentary and links to articles from all over the web. One thing for certain, if cyclingnews doesn’t make their site easier to navigate we’ll all be one step closer to relying on Twitter for our news. Not good for them nor their advertisers.
If you want to follow an interesting guy and his thoughts on social media in cycling, have a peek at his blog: http://kadisco.com