By: Eric SanInocencio
SEC Digital Network
Birmingham, Ala. -- The 2012 year was historic for the Southeastern Conference.
When the calendar closes on this particular year in SEC history, it will be remembered for decades to come. The word history took many forms in the past 365 days, both on the field and off of it. The SEC family expanded (more on that to come), adding new members (Missouri and Texas A&M) into the league for the first time since 1992.
As Commissioner Mike Slive often says, this likely will be referred to as the "golden age" of the SEC. The league's universities continue to compete for National Championships, standing at the top of the mountain in conference achievement. This fall continued that trend, as Alabama will compete for the SEC's seventh straight football national title on January 7th. To get to that title game, Alabama topped Georgia in perhaps the greatest SEC Championship Game ever played, putting a cap on another wonderful year on the gridiron.
Even in the league's newest sport, equestrian, SEC schools own ALL National Championships ever captured. Success breeds more success. That's life in the Southeastern Conference.
When it comes to the SEC Digital Network, there was growth and milestones. The conference's official twitter account, @SECSportsUpdate, hit 100,000 followers last week, becoming the first collegiate conference or school handle to ever reach that mark.
The SECDN expanded to new frontiers as well, starting pages on Google + and Pinterest. Our Pinterest following has grown rapidly, amassing over 1,140 fans in just three months. By comparison, the SEC currently has more fans on Pinterest and Google + than 10 other conferences (Big 12, Pac-12, Big East, ACC, Mountain West, Conference USA, Missouri Valley, Mid-American, Atlantic 10) combined. If you added up all of the people following us on our social media platforms, our "reach" is nearly 380,000 fans.
The immense support of SEC fans never ceases to amaze me.
Now that 2012 has come to a close, let's look back at some of the numbers that made this year special.
Dates Of Importance
January 9, 2012: The SEC made history (that word again), as Alabama and LSU squared off for the BCS National Championship. Dubbed #SECBCS, the game put an exclamation point on the league's football dominance.
January 19, 2012: The SEC announced the "We Back Pat" initiative, named after Tennessee's legendary coach. This program was a joint effort in the conference and nationally, helping to bring awareness to the Pat Summitt Foundation.
April 2, 2012: Kentucky, led by the five underclassmen starters, cut down the nets and won the National Championship. This was Wildcat head coach John Calipari's first National Championship.
May 22-27, 2012: For the first time in conference history, the SEC Baseball Tournament expanded to include 10 teams. Seventh-seeded Mississippi State captured the tournament crown, defeating Vanderbilt 3-0.
June 1, 2012: At the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla., the league's athletics directors voted to add equestrian as the SEC's 21st sport beginning with the 2012-13 season, including sponsorship of a conference championship beginning in March 2013.
June 10, 2012: In perhaps one of the wildest games in NCAA Women's College World Series history, Alabama overcame rain and a 3-0 deficit, defeating Oklahoma 5-4 and winning the SEC's first-ever National Championship in softball.
June 23, 2012: The SEC launched the "40/40" campaign, highlighting 40 stories from the SEC's history in women's athletics. This coincided with the 40-year anniversary of Title IX.
June 28, 2012: In a first in NBA history, three SEC freshman were the first players selected in the NBA Draft. Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist joined Florida's Bradley Beal as the first three overall picks. Davis and Gilchrist become the first teammates in history to ever be selected with the top two choices.
July 1, 2012: As I wrote back then, it was like New Year's Eve in July. This was the date that Missouri and Texas A&M officially joined the Southeastern Conference.
August 30, 2012: Vanderbilt hosted South Carolina to officially kickoff the 2012 SEC football season. The Gamecocks picked up a hard-fought victory over the Commodores. In that same week, Alabama demolished Michigan 41-14 in the weeks biggest out of conference matchup.
September 8, 2012: Missouri and Texas A&M play and host their first-ever SEC league games, marking an important date in conference history. The Aggies played host to Florida, while Georgia headed to Missouri. Commissioner Mike Slive travels to both games, with Yahoo's Pat Forde chronicled his journey here.
December 1, 2012: Georgia and Alabama squared off in an SEC Championship Game for the ages. A de facto National Championship Semifinal, It came down to the final seconds. The Bulldogs, five yards away from the end zone and an SEC title, fell short, as the final seconds ticked away at the Georgia Dome.
SEC Website Traffic
We had a big year on the digital side, making huge gains and adding new sections (not slivers) of the country to the SEC's footprint. Below are some of the most interesting numbers from the year at the SEC Digital Network. All numbers below are courtesy of Google Analytics.
71.78%: That is the percent of "new visitors" to the SEC website this year. That can no doubt be attributed to the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M to the conference. Believe it or not, that number is actually down from last year, where 89 percent of clicks were identified as "new users".
97.90%: The percent of people visiting the SEC website from inside the United States. No other country registered higher than 0.30 %.
42.08%: Percent of people viewing the site with an Internet Explorer browser. Despite what you might hear IE still dominates our user base. The number of Internet Explorer users was that of Safari (Apple), Firefox (Mozilla) and Chrome (Google) combined. Also interesting to note is that Android, a mobile web browser, was fifth on the list.
19.13%: Referral traffic to the SEC website. That means nearly 20 percent of the people visiting the SEC Digital Network were brought here from another website or social media platform. This shows that fans are sharing information in today's age, and a significant chunk of our support comes from this action. Here's the top 10 list of referral sites below.
3. Facebook Mobile
4. SEC On Demand
When people tell you social media doesn't matter, they are lying. Also of note is that Facebook, which most in the tech industry feel has hit a plateau, still holds two of the top three spots on our referral board. The SEC's Facebook page has 277,000 "likes", and that continues to drive web traffic for us. You also cannot underestimate the power of the Aggie fan base, as TexAgs.com (an Aggie fan site) and AggieAthletics.com (Texas A&M's official website) were both in the top eight. Howdy indeed.
Top 15 States For SEC Web Traffic (With 2011 Comparison)
||5. South Carolina
|7. South Carolina
|10. North Carolina
||11. North Carolina
||13. New York
|14. New York
Quite a few similarities with a little shuffling near the top. Texas, despite the Aggies only officially being in the SEC half the year, jumped from sixth in 2011 to third this year. Missouri also moved from 14th last year to 12th this year. Also relevant is California and New York both placing in the top 15 the past two years, despite no true SEC presence in those states.
Top 15 Cities For SEC Web Traffic (With 2011 Comparison)
|1. Atlanta, GA
||1. Birmingham, AL
|2. Birmingham, AL
||2. Atlanta, GA
|3. Houston, TX
||3. Nashville, TN
|4. Nashville, TN
||4. Columbia, SC
|5. Lexington, KY
||5. Houston, TX
|6. New York, NY
||6. Baton Rouge, LA
|7. Baton Rouge, LA
||7. New York, NY
|8. Knoxville, TN
||8. Knoxville, TN
|9. Columbia, SC
||9. Jackson, MS
|10. New Orleans, LA
||10. Lexington, KY
|11. Dallas, TX
||11. Huntsville, AL
|12. Jackson, MS
||12. Little Rock, AR
|13. Charlotte, NC
||13. Montgomery, AL
|14. Huntsville, AL
||14. Tuscaloosa, AL
|15. College Station, TX
||15. Dallas, TX
These numbers show a few things. First off, the power of Texas is evident. Houston, Dallas and College Station (surprising considering its size) all ranked in the top 15 cities. Also, there is strength in hosting SEC events. Atlanta (host of the SEC Championship Game) was first overall, while New Orleans jumped from 24th in 2011 to 10th this year. "NOLA" hosted the BCS National Championship Game (featuring Alabama/LSU) and the 2012 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament, two marquee conference events. Lexington also had a big year, with Kentucky fans celebrating their teams National Championship run in April.
Top 10 International (Non-US) Cities For Web Traffic
1. London, United Kingdom
2. Toronto, Canada
3. Grevenbroich, Germany
4. Hanoi, Vietnam
5. Sydney, Australia
6. Melbourne, Australia
7. Calgary, Canada
8. Seoul, South Korea
9. Calw, Germany
10. Bad Kreuznach, Germany
First off, let me clarify that the numbers for the cities above are very small in comparison and not a representative portion of the entire website total. However, it is cool to see who is looking at the SECDN from outside the United States, and this top 10 covers the entire world. Germany is SEC country (relatively), with three different cities ranking in the top 10. I'm certain that the presence of United States military bases there helps boost that total. You can make that argument for several cities (Hanoi, Seoul) in the top 10.
London was the clear cut number one, which probably has to do with this year's Olympic games. The SEC had a big Olympics, and would have ranked in the top five as a country with medals won by former league athletes. London was the international host, and in turn the SEC had a small part of the world's biggest stage.
That said, I need to use this data to get work approved "research" trips to Melbourne and Sydney, that's for sure.
Top Five SEC News Stories Of The Year
1. 2012 SEC Football Schedule
2. SEC Releases 2012 SEC League Schedule
3. SEC Releases 2013 SEC League Schedule
4. SEC Releases Early Season Football TV Schedule
5. 2012 All-SEC Football Team Announced
Top 10 Original Content Pieces Of The Year (Author)
1. SEC Photoblog: The Football Coaches Meeting (Eric SanInocencio)
2. The Making Of A Legend (Eric SanInocencio)
3. SEC Media Days Website Traffic (Eric SanInocencio)
4. SEC Nation Photoblog: SEC Across The Southeast (Eric SanInocencio)
5. SEC Football Scheduling Q&A: Mark Womack (Sean Cartell)
6. Manziel Quickly Becoming A Household Name (Scott Crumbly)
7. Bertman Skipped No Steps In Building LSU Dynasty (Ron Higgins)
8. SEC Nation Photoblog: The Atlanta Welcome (Eric SanInocencio)
9. Second Annual Blue Ribbon SEC Awards (Chris Dortch)
10. Texas A&M: What You Need To Know (Sean Cartell)
10. SEC Baseball Tournament: You Are Watching History (Eric SanInocencio)