Re: [Harp-L] Re: my 2 cents on the SPAH thing

On Dec 16, 2011, at 1:25 PM, Greg Heumann wrote:

> survive, SPAH MUST embrace the Internet as its PRIMARY means of communicating AND delivering value. With all of the wonderful people, good will, pro level talent and relationships we have there is no reason that SPAH shouldn't be the Number One resource for harp players all over the world. 

If only people would actually contribute content. Over the last four years, I have begged, cajoled, and otherwise supplicated myself at the knees of various people in its pursuit--and that list includes current board/staff members of some of whom write about the harmonica for other web sites.

> Let me give you an example of SPAH vs the Internet as it is today. I can run the "referring site" report on to see how people who come to my site found out about me - i.e., where the link was that they clicked to get to me. In the most recent reporting period, 62,769 clicks came from Adam Gussow's "Modern Blues Harmonica" forum - a popular harmonica discussion forum. That's about 10 times MORE than I get from Google. You know how many came from the SPAH web site in the same period? 153. That's where SPAH's web site is today - nowhere.

That's not exactly the whole picture Greg. actually gets a lot of traffic. Don't ask me why considering its lack of content but it does. My web server has a program called Webalizer which analyzes access logs to cull various site statistics. Here are some numbers reported to the board recently:

Stats for August:

Visits: 30,050 (unique visitors)
Pages:  88,435
Files:  174,055 
Hits;   216,306

Stats for the previous 12 Months,

Visits: 210,331
Pages:  808,055 
Files:  1365,237
Hits:   1,774,473

This is good data and is corroborated with impression counts for banner ads delivered by my ad server.

For example, for your ad Greg you had 14,627  impression with 265 click-throughs for a CTR (Click Through Rate) of 1.81%.  0.1% is average for mature markets. Hal Iwan's Custom Harp Cases ad has a 2.80% CTR.  All the others were north of 1%.

Those click throughs wouldn't have registered as because they were delivered by my adserver,  

> Why? Because it doesn't add value other than to tell us where the next SPAH is. It doesn't give us a reason to go there. (I'm overstating to make a point here - significant efforts have been made over the last year to improve the SPAH web site.) The SPAH web site COULD be the center of SPAH, a FANTASTIC resource.

You are right. And a genuinely useful web site is the center piece of the value Warren and I hope to add to the membership. The dearth of content, comes from our complete reliance on volunteers. Both Jp and I would've put more time into the web site, but SPAH Web Producer and Magazine Publisher pay bupkis. Well not exactly, the organization did pay my way to the convention but even with that, by the time I paid for food and my bar bill, SPAH cost me money. And that's not factoring the donated billable hours.  Don't get me wrong, I was happy to donate my time to such a wonderful organization.  However, not being retired and having young children, guys like Jp and me have only so much we can offer before we have to get paid.

> Why, for example, does SPAH not have a web-based discussion forum? It should be THE forum of choice for harp players world wide.

> technology for virtually bringing people together. Why doesn't SPAH have a major presence on Facebook? I got 8x the number of clicks to my site from my OWN Facebook page than I do from the SPAH website with all of its members.

I've also tweeted the last two conventions @spahnews

> SPAH presumably has (or certainly can get) rights to the wonderful photos, videos, instructional materials and presentations, lecture notes, etc - from every SPAH convention. Think of the value of having an archive of those available online. Not just from the 6 sessions I attended, not from a single SPAH, but from EVERY SPAH convention?

Absolutely spot on. However, we got sued once over, I think it was video rights, and leadership has been too afraid to tackle this again. Perhaps it's time again.

> SPAH has the ACTIVE participation of top level pro players from every genre. These are busy people who cannot afford to take the time to participate in a standard web forum format. But SPAH could publish interviews, have "Charlie's Tips" and "Stan's Stories" and a host of other great articles that no other harmonica-related site can compete with. 

Tried that. Here again we suffer from the chicken and egg conundrum. Everyone has limited resources to make rain. If said pros and other stakeholders derived benefit$ for the effort, I'm more than sure they'd participate.

> There ARE other harmonica forums on the web. And they're gathering users. Each has its unique focus and set of features. But for general discussion SPAH should be the place. And it can be funded by advertising of vendors like me, who sorely need all the help we can get to reach a geographically diverse community.

The web site situation, like the rest of the problems plaguing SPAH, boil down to a willingness to invest cash money. What's that old adage? "You have to spend money to make money."  Our hopes and expectations simply do not harmonize with the facts on the ground. 

Part of what I and Warren hope to change about SPAH is its total reliance on volunteers for vital functions. This is a TALL order to be sure. We don't make much money and we only have about $90k, which, we broke the piggy bank, would be gone no time. But the board also does not talk about new revenue streams or membership growth. All it talks about is the convention.

Strategic partnerships seemed to me to be the way to go. Recently I shared an idea with the board about creating value thusly. E.g., I had a conversation with someone who operates a harmonica web site that offers subscriptions for instructional content. The business owner offered to give SPAH members a %15 discount (two free months) and to let SPAH co-sponsor an on-line song contest for free. The entire board and staff were made aware of the offer. It was turned down by leadership.

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