@stephenfry 20x better than BBC News

As I mentioned yesterday, we launched the Evolution Megalab in the UK yesterday.  It was on the Today programme (weekly audience around 6.5m), on the BBC News website (weekly audience around 14m), and on various regional broadcasts including BBC Scotland. We were hoping for a bigger splash on the BBC – we promised them an exclusive in return – but they cancelled the larger-scale broadcasts at the last minute.  No matter – it was a big trad-media splash, and kept at least four-and-a-half people at the OU busy most of the day (Kath the media contact, Jonathan and Jenny the media faces, Richard the programmer, plus me and others spending some time).

We got about 2400 unique visitors as a result.   Which is by far our busiest day … yet.

(We got about 1000 when we launched similarly on German national TV last month.)

Devolve Me is a related project – which I had nothing to do with – and is a bit of silliness that lets you morph a photo of yourself (or a loved one, or indeed a hated one) to look like an early hominin.  The site was pootling around nicely at about 1500 hits a day, and then a certain Stephen Fry tweeted:

Indebted to @iRobC once more: See how you’d have looked as an early human – OU site http://tinyurl.com/9tacnt #devolve Coolissimo

… and it got 52,500 hits. As our press release about this points out,

The spike in traffic to the OU website illustrates the growing influence that social media is having in today’s communications, with people increasingly sharing links and sourcing their news feeds online.

A single tweet by a single power user on a single social network gets you more than twenty times more exposure than mass broadcasts to tens of millions.

Cut another way, of the order of 1 in 1000 people who heard about the Evolution Megalab via the BBC visited the site, but about 1 in 7 people who saw Stephen Fry’s tweet visited that site. (He has over 360,000 followers at the time of writing.)

It is, of course, all about audience and targetting. I’d bet the majority of people following Stephen Fry on Twitter would be mildly interested in a cool website about evolution; and I’d bet that the overwhelming majority of the Today audience isn’t.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am – at least at the scale of the difference.  The old ways of getting messages out are being superseded while we watch. Sometimes dramatically.