By: Eric SanInocencio
SEC Digital Network
Birmingham, Ala. -- What an amazing year.
Looking through my personal calendar from the past 12 months, there is sea of ink stains and scribble marks that would make any first grader proud. There was breaking news (which we will get to later), signature events (All-SEC BCS) and memorable moments. Despite our best attempts to pre-plan for it all, the sheer nature of volatility in the world of collegiate athletics made that task almost impossible.
But, we (you and us) witnessed it first hand, a collection of success and history that will likely never be seen again.
The Southeastern Conference expanded for the first time since 1991, adding two more schools and posting SEC flags in Columbia, Missouri and College Station, Texas.
The SEC played itself in the National Championship Game in football, as Alabama and LSU squared off for the crystal ball in New Orleans (we were there). Kentucky won a National Title on the hardwood, as John Calipari cut down the nets this past April. In between those stories of triumph included an additional seven national championships won, five coming from the SEC's women's programs. When Commissioner Mike Slive gave his annual "state of the SEC" address at SEC Media Days a few weeks back, the accomplishments he listed from the previous 12 months were astounding.
The happiness of winning was also tempered with grief, as tragedy struck the very core of the conference. Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt (now head coach emeritus) was diagnosed with early onset dementia, a blow felt across the country. The SEC family responded, banding together to support the legendary coach, as the "We Back Pat" campaign went on to reach every corner of the United States.
Even in moments of despair, the league and its fans rallied around each other. That is always was amazes me most about this conference, the length to which its supporters will go to take care of one another. Despite being the fiercest of rivals on the field, once the games are over the pride of the SEC is first and foremost. If anything, this year taught you that.
We were here...for it all. Through our website and multiple social media channels, we tried to update you on the SEC world as it turned. Turn it did, as the league landscape spun at a rate I haven't witnessed since I sat in this very chair three years ago. A 10-day stretch in October and November illustrated this perfectly, a perfect microcosm of the SEC world in 2011-12. In the span of 10 days, the following events occurred, giving us a news cycle that could rival the largest sports networks in the world.
Events From October 27 to November 6, 2011
SEC Basketball Media Days (October 27th)
Cross Country Championships (October 31st)
SEC Soccer Tournament (November 2-6)
"Game of the Century": LSU at Alabama (November 5th)
University of Missouri Joins The SEC (November 6th)
Yup, that was this year in a nutshell.
As the 2011-12 academic year becomes part of the history books, I wanted to look back the numbers from the past 365 days. Some I've mentioned already (9), but there are even more to sort through. The traffic numbers listed below come from Google Analytics, and the Twitter research from www.topsy.com and www.sportsfangraph.com.
As always, exact traffic numbers will not be released.
Let's see what else happened in the SEC this past season.
The Top 5 Traffic Events Of The Year
1. The SEC Baseball Tournament: Surprise you? As it has been the past few years, the SEC Baseball Tournament dominates traffic on our website. Three of the biggest overall traffic days during the whole year happened during this event. SEC fans love baseball.
2. SEC Releases The 2012 Conference Football Schedule: This one release, on a non-descript day in December, was the second most popular traffic day of the past year. This no doubt had to do with Texas A&M and Missouri's addition to the conference, and how the Aggies and Tigers would fit into the schedule. This one story had over 10,000 twitter "shares" and Facebook "likes", both overall highs on the year. This convergence of people all at one time nearly crashed our servers, and made me crash my car. Seriously.
3. 2012 SEC Media Days: No surprise here. #SECKickoff12, as it was affectionately known, brought many eyeballs to the conference website. I broke down the numbers here, and it gave us good insight of the Texas sized excitement for the upcoming season.
4. SEC Men's Basketball Tournament: #SECNOLA was a big traffic source this year. The Thursday/Friday portion of the tournament drew top 10 overall numbers, and even the Monday before the event was a busy day.
5/6. The New Additions: As I mentioned earlier, Missouri and Texas A&M officially joined the SEC this year. Their announcements, as you can expect, were high traffic days for the website. They were so close in the numbers I decided to list them together. We created special breakout pages for each school, complete with a historic look at the schools and their connections to the SEC.
The Top 20 Traffic Cities (by total number of unique visitors)
1. Birmingham, AL
2. Atlanta, GA
3. Houston, TX
4. Nashville, TN
5. Baton Rouge, LA
6. Lexington, KY
7. Knoxville, TN
8. Columbia, SC
9. New York, NY
10. Jackson, MS
11. Dallas, TX
12. Huntsville, AL
13. Charlotte, NC
14. New Orleans, LA
15. Little Rock, AR
16. Memphis, TN
17. Tuscaloosa, AL
18. Montgomery, AL
19. Gainesville, FL
20. Starkville, MS
Analysis: Birmingham, the home of the SEC offices, is truly the home of the SEC website on the internet. In comparison to cities with much larger populations (Atlanta, Houston), more people visited the league portal from the Magic City than anywhere else. The rest of the top 10 reads like a glossary of SEC school cities, except for the surprising ninth place finisher, New York. Also worth mentioning is Jackson, MS, who despite a population of only 175,000 still found their way to the 10th spot. Very impressive support.
Top 20 States By Web Traffic
7. South Carolina
11. North Carolina
14. New York
Top Referral Sites To SEC Website
2. Facebook Mobile
4. SEC OnDemand Page
15. Texags.com Mobile
Analysis: The SEC lives on Facebook. Or social media for that matter, as both Twitter and Facebook were in the top three of referrals to our website. Our strong presence there definitely helped get news out last year. Also, welcome to Texas! Texags.com loved sending people to our site so much, both their mobile and regular platform made the top 20. They join Facebook as the only web portal to accomplish that.
The Top 5 Columns Of The Year
This year we really amped up our unique content, as the SEC "Nation" collection of writers produced daily stories and columns throughout the calendar. Between Ron Higgins, Sean Cartell, Chris Dortch, Tommy Deas, Tony Barnhart, Phil Bush, Mark Maloney, Brian Rice and myself we covered the SEC like never before, tapping into the great stories of many student-athletes in this league. The top five columns, in terms of web traffic are listed below.
1. SEC "Nation" Photoblog: The Coaches Meeting (Eric SanInocencio): Getting the chance to see the league's football coaches all in one setting is the kind of behind the scenes access we have really tried to feature. The numbers show that fans enjoyed this type of content more than any other.
2. The Tuesday Take: A Trip To College Station (Sean Cartell): This "day in the life" written by Sean Cartell chronicles the events of Texas A&M's welcome celebration in College Station.
3. Texas A&M/SEC Connections (Sean Cartell): An in-depth look at the connections between Texas A&M and the SEC.
4. The SEC and Missouri: Great Games and Great Coaches (Sean Cartell): A feature on Missouri's past matchups with teams from the Southeastern Conference.
5. SEC Media Days: Website Traffic (Eric SanInocencio): An examination of the traffic numbers from SEC Media Days.
The SEC has a strong presence on Twitter, topping the 82,000 follower mark this week. That number is higher than any other collegiate team or conference, and would rank 13th among all Major League Baseball teams.
Through the popular social media platform, we've added "hash tags" for our league events, as a way to group together tweets about the league. Below is an all-time count for the various hash tags we've used in the past year.
Other SEC-Related Hashtags