JSTOR Plant Science Vimeo Videos: Usage stats and crowd favorites
I was on a bit of a usage stats tear here, so my apologies to our more dedicated botanical readers. Regular programming will resume quite soon. Since the last post was on the usage statistics for 2012 for this blog, I thought I might shift into another area of social communication that has proven surprisingly (not a strong enough word, really) popular are the short videos the Global Plants Initiative (GPI) have been making to discuss their practices, processes, field trips, facilities, and staff.
I have written about this before (ad nauseum), but to review we sent five GPI partners five Flip cameras (now, to my dismay, a discontinued product) and asked them to film short videos outlining some of their work, their cities, their colleagues. They send me the video via FTP and I edit it together (in some cases, it is completely done by the time it reaches me) and then upload it our Vimeo page and take the embed link from the Vimeo page and upload it to the JSTOR Plant Science site as well. It then joins the 30+ videos we have and rotates in and out of the homepage on a daily basis. Click on the image below to go directly to the Vimeo page.
What was meant as merely a community building effort has blossomed into a dynamic mechanism for collaboration and communication for many in our GPI community. There is something about a visual medium such as video that corresponds well to field sciences (this is just an assumption, one that this project was originally based on), a practice based on process and in situ scientific study.
The videos resonate somehow to the tune of over 530,000 views since we launched this in mid-2010. If taken as page views, these 530,000 visits would constitute about 20-25% of our total page views during that same stretch. About 150 countries have seen the videos at least once, which speaks to some saturation (despite limited bandwidth). We average anywhere between 1500-5000 views per week, depending on the academic calendar.
Not a bad foray into social media. The drawback of using video is obviously it limits your audience to those with sufficient bandwidth, a concern for our project and our initial focus on Africa. Unlike the JSTOR Plant Science site itself, the usage statistics are skewed towards Industrial North countries and the first African nations to enter the mix are Namibia at #28 and Nigeria at #29. Nigeria is #10 on overall JSTOR Plant Science usage. This is a considerable disadvantage to using video.
There is also something about Vimeo that seems to flesh out videos a bit better than YouTube, in our opinion. We chose Vimeo over YouTube strictly because we had some personal experience with it and it presented cleaner than the oft-muddied experience of YouTube (nothing against YouTube). I would be interested to hear if anyone had similar experiences with Vimeo over YouTube. Regardless, there you have it. I will write about our social media policy, our successes and (considerable) features in future posts in case any organization reading might want to give it a go (or at least learn from our mistakes).
More importantly, some of the most popular videos all-time:
1. Dr. Siro Masinde of the East African Herbarium at the National Museums of Kenya discussing various medicinal plants. Dr. Masinde, with these two videos, accounts for about 70,000 out of a total of 530,000 views. His instructional, conversational style is popular and I have personally received anecdotal evidence that teachers have used these videos for classroom instruction.
2. Greatest first two weeks: KATH Field Trip into the Himalayas
The National Herbarium and Plant Laboratories of Kathmandu, Nepal (KATH), our first Asian GPI partner, gave us some fantastic footage on a recent plant collecting expedition high into the mountains of Nepal, complete with Sherpas, leeches, and bumpy roads. It was a hit when released to the tune of approximately 16,000 views for the first four videos. It could have something to do with how amazingly friendly these people are as well as demonstrating the role of field work in the discipline(s) of plant science. Very few of the videos for GPI capture this level of intimate detail; completely humanizes the work they are doing.
3. Greatest institutional representation: The Darwinion Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Besides having the greatest stage entrance of any of the videos, the Darwinion Institute of Buenos Aires tops the scales with their 4 videos at 93,000 total views (out of the 530,000 views for all the videos). These videos are a great tour around the facilities, a good chance to meet the staff, and witness one of the loveliest libraries I have ever seen. If you only watch one of the videos, be sure to watch the casual, yet confident entrance of one Manuel Belgrano, Darwinion biologist and long-time friend of the Global Plants Initiative project.