An insight into the May Commencement Web traffic

Last week Thursday and Friday we had our May Commencement. The ceremony was split up between five events spaced throughout the days. We streamed the events live as we have in previous years and I wanted to give a little insight into the amount of viewers we received.

Physical Attendance

To give a little prospective we have 3,500 graduates in all five ceremonies and the attendance was as follows:

  • 2,350 Ceremony 1
  • 1,200 Ceremony 2
  • 2,300 Ceremony 3
  • 2,350 Ceremony 4
  • 1,900 Ceremony 5

~10,000 total friends and family attend the physical event on campus.


We used our typical tried and true channels to promote the live stream. There were prominent links on the Commencement website for months while students were getting ready for the event. We also place a banner on to direct traffic to the live stream on the day of the event. The commencement committee sent out an email on the day of the event with a link to watch the event live. Unfortunately this year the email link to watch wasn’t tagged in a way for us to track the exact click through rate so we just have an estimate. Lastly we promoted the event socially on Facebook and Twitter.

A break down of the traffic sources is below. The diagram is pretty crude but it works to illustrate promoting it socially (we thought would bring the most amount of traffic) was actually not true. From what we could track, viewers primarily came in through email and the commencement website. There is still ~9,000 “direct” visits to the stream page that are unaccounted for, we are still looking in to where these people came from.

Traffic Sources

  • ~9,000 unaccounted for direct visitors
  • 3,863 referrals from the Commencement Website
  • ~1,500 referrals from email
  • 560 referrals from banner
  • 512 click throughs from Facebook
  • 449 click throughs from Twitter

Total Viewers

  • 3,510 Total unique viewers for all ceremonies
  • 1,693 Viewers for commencement 1
  • 1,327 Viewers for commencement 2 & 3
  • 909 Viewers for commencement 4
  • 873 Viewers for commencement 5

Live Chat

Like all live streamed events we open the chat up to everyone. We moderate it for profanity and people causing issues but other than that the community does a good job moderating itself. Here is a break down of the number of comments for each ceremony. For some reason the 3rd ceremony didn’t record the chat but we were watching and it was in line with #4 and #5.

  • 577 Comments on commencement 1
  • 345 Comments on commencement 2
  • 152 Comments on commencement 4
  • 204 Comments on commencement 5

What’s next?

This week Ustream introduced “Ustream on Facebook“. This is going to introduce a whole new audience for our events. We try to drive traffic to a branded page so visitors can learn more about WSU if they are interested. We installed the Ustream app on our facebook page and will be testing it out with our next live event.

One major thing they changed was the replacement of IRC chat for Facebook chat. This is going to introduce a new variable since it requires a Facebook account to chat. We don’t like the idea of having two chat interfaces so we will probably be migrating the chat to FB.

The second major shift is the reduction in analytics we can pull about the people who land on the Facebook page compared to the traditional Wayne State page.

The good thing is more people will be exposed to the events going on around campus. The problem of figuring out where to do our promotion is not a bad problem to have if that exposure is already high. Only time will tell which method is going to work best for our audience.