When do FT readers visit?
There is a predictable rhythm to FT usage. In the mornings (7AM New Jersey Time) our European and South Pacific patron counts are significantly higher. This wanes as the day progresses and U.S. patrons come online. Statcounter reveals most FT hits are made in the beginning of the week and slack off as the weekend approaches. School year (September-June) is busier than summer. Holiday planning periods are busy, but real-time holiday traffic is almost non-existent.
Site visits vs. reader interaction
Statcounter confirms between June 5, 2004-May 1, 2013 Food Timeline pages have been loaded 31 million times. We invite our readers to ask questions and they do! Since the site's inception (March 1999) we have answered 25,000+ food questions sent from all points of the globe. Question traffic does not always corrolate neatly with site visit stats. Sunday evenings during the American school year may not report significant visit stats but they are exceptionally busy for FT questions. Why? Students (surprise?!) leave their homework to the last minute. Media attention sometimes generates temporary service "spikes." Blog entries (reddit.com, I-am-bored.com, roadfood forum) can surge thousands of hits on FT for a nano-blip of time. Think: Warhol's 15 minutes of fame.
What about social media?
We tweet & pin to reach people who prefer accessing information in this format. FT answers/exchanges generally exceed SMS character limits and we respect our patron's privacy. E-Mail remains the best way for us to correspond with readers in 2013. Also lets us scan/send information. FT editor is on LinkedIn.
If you fill a niche, people will come. Pure and simple. Our site began as a public educational service and so it remains. We have never paid seach engines for premium placement, solicited reciprocal links, partnered with book vendors, or sold advertising. FT traffic grows because we add (credible/vetted) content readers want and answer their questions in a timely manner. We still hand code html & today's readers comment the site is "ugly." We acknowledge: what was cutting edge in 1999 is now stale. Conversley? FT looks so old it's become vintage. Medium & content blend perfectly. Quick load across all platforms turns out to be a major plus. FT readers are truly amazed to get personalized answers from Web sites. Lesson here: if you invite customers to ask questions, you better respond!