Today it seems the Elon Musk post from last week has run its course. Page views for this site are now back to a sadly normal state — in the range of 30 to 50 views a day. This return to earth arrives after five straight days of views in excess of 400. Two days climbed into four figures with one exceeding 5,000 views overall. Heady times for a small-timer like me.
So I wanted to see how long it took to cool down before taking a deeper look at the analytics. It was an interesting ride.
As regular readers — and thanks to all 27 of you hardy and deranged souls — might recall, last Monday I made a post related to the April Fool’s Day joke on the previous afternoon by inventor and investor Elon Musk in which he falsely claimed his famous company and maker of the Tesla automobile had declared bankruptcy. In a second tweet he included a photo of himself zonked out on “Teslaquila” while wearing a T-shirt advertising Elon University — the place where I work in North Carolina. Elon Musk has no known relationship to Elon other than a coincidence by name.
The tweet set off the typical humorless backlash from financial types but also gained some traction on our campus in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. After all, Elon College was established in 1889 and became a university more than 100 years later. It was here — located between Greensboro and Durham — well before Elon Musk came upon the global and national scene. The shirt drew the attention of people at Elon University who began a #getelontoelon movement on Twitter — an effort to get the famous creator of SpaceX to speak here on campus. People around the world who had never heard of Elon University until seeing that T-shirt had questions about it. Namely: Did it exist and was it connected to Elon Musk? Yes to the first, no to the second. Not yet anyway. But we still hope.
I addressed most of those questions with this particular post published on April 2. A week later it ranks as the second most viewed post ever on my site at more than 8,200 and has pushed April of 2018 to the second highest month for page views in the site’s 15-month history. And April still has 21 days remaining. It should surpass the previous high month, March of 2017. That month contained the most popular post ever for this site, a story about a former University of North Carolina quarterback Mark Maye and his son Luke who had just made a game-winning shot in the NCAA Tournament. It was viewed more than 9,000 times after begins shared on a UNC fan page.
The Elon Musk post in conjunction with a story I shared about a shooting spree in Burlington 25 years ago combined to zoom the overall views well beyond the norm. But what interested me most was the reach created by the Elon Musk post. It was by far the most viewed item on this site outside the United States.
In all, the post was viewed in more than 60 countries. It was most popular in the UK and Canada but it also had multiple views in France, Spain, Thailand, Germany, Australia, Denmark and Japan. I was read from Iceland to Malaysia and from Greece to Laos and Liberia.
As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s hard to put a monetary figure on how much good publicity this episode got for Elon University. After all, my post is only a fraction of the people around the nation who have now heard of the picturesque campus and nationally recognized school with a goal of graduating global citizens.
I’ll be interested to learn if the admissions office sees a bump in inquiries over the next few months.