Webinar On Demand: Best Practices For Developing Your On-site Community

Focused on growing your online community? Looking to grow and monetize your audience?

Hear from media and audience development veterans Tom Gierasimczuk and Dan Seaman to learn how you can leverage the power of social media to build a highly engaged, loyal community on your site with your content at the center of it all.

In this webinar, you’ll learn how to:

  • Leverage social media for content discovery and keep your audience on site
  • Connect a community of likeminded individuals around a particular topic/region or niche
  • Maximize on-site interactions to build a highly engaged and active community of readers, contributors, and influencers
  • Gain transparency and retain ownership of your brand, content, data, and audience


Don’t miss out on this webinar: Watch it now!

Download the Report: The Business Case For Engagement

Convert site visitors into paying customers by prompting visitors to gradually increase their engagement through the “Ladder of Participation.”

There is a definitive correlation between user engagement and conversion. As a user becomes increasingly engaged, they are more willing to pay for a digital publishers content or services. More importantly, users who are more active in the publisher’s online community make the subscription decision sooner compared with users who are less active (or not active at all).

A recent MIT Sloan Management Review study report, titled “Turning Content Viewers Into Subscribers,” asserts that engagement is the key to turning casual readers into paying subscribers, and the ladder model as an effective framework to boost engagement over time. Using what the research dubs the “Ladder of Participation,” publishers can prompt site users to progressively accelerate their on-site engagement to become paying subscribers.

“The concept of a ‘ladder’ demonstrates a user’s decision-making process, which is affected by his or her past experience with the website, and which expresses the user’s wishes and free will. The notion of the ladder is based on the idea that, as users become increasingly engaged with a website, they become more willing to pay for its services — and the website must take an active approach to engage and interact with its users, guiding them ‘up the ladder,’” says the report, authored by academics Lior Zalmanson and Gal Oestreicher-Singer.

“The concept of a ‘ladder’ demonstrates a user’s decision-making process, which is affected by his or her past experience with the website, and which expresses the user’s wishes and free will.”

Through each stage, this report demonstrates the correlation between a user’s placement on the proverbial ladder and their likelihood of converting into loyal, paying subscribers.

But not all engagement is created equal. “Liking” a video may not be as valuable to a publisher as a user who actively comments on content. The report provides a framework for engagement levels with three categories with varying degrees of value:

Three categories with varying degrees of value

  1. Content organization requires little effort from the user and helps fellow users receive useful information about the content. These features include the “like” button and options such as ratings (star ratings or a numerical scale), or tagging content with user-suggested keywords.
  2. Community participation includes all features that have the potential to create interactions among users on the website. These include chats, forums, internal blogs, comment options, sharing options, social or interest groups etc. These features form the basis of a website’s community and require low to moderate efforts from the user.
  3. Community leadership refers to features and options that put users in the drivers seat. These include options to initiate conversation, create new social groups on site, moderate the site’s discussions, and create content channels. It’s rare for traditional commercial websites to install such features, but they are common on websites that encourage vast community input, as these websites tend to delegate some, if not all, moderating tasks to users.

Three steps to guide users to increased engagement

Engage: Set goals for engagement
Identify how you need your current community to grow and evolve. Establish engagement KPIs you want to monitor, including attention time, time spent on site, and social interactions.

Discover: Know your audience
That means achieving an in-depth understanding of your audience, as well as what they’re reading, sharing, responding to, and who is actively involved in your community.

Grow: Establish your engagement ladder
Select participatory features (and order of introduction) based on your community and goals. Connect your KPIs and points of engagement (social interactions, comments, etc.) to the rungs of your ladder. And build a strategy to grow your audience, one that gradually encourages and motivates users to climb your newly built Ladder of Participation.

Ready to build engagement and grow your own online audience? Learn how you can influence engagement and gain deeper audience insights with Viafoura Audience Development Platform.

Contact us to discuss your Audience Development strategy and how we can help you engage, discover, and grow your audience.

New Look. New Engagement Tools. A More Powerful Platform.

Viafoura Launches Next Phase of Audience Development Platform

We’ve got a brand new look. We hope you love it as much as we do!

We’ve rolled out a new logo, website, and added new engagement tools to the Viafoura Audience Development Platform to reflect our commitment to empowering the digital world’s interactions, connections, and relationships.

You might be asking yourself, why’d we do it? Why the change?

“Viafoura has evolved greatly since we launched in 2012,” shares Jesse Moeinifar, Viafoura Founder & CEO. “To better reflect where Viafoura is today, and where we are going, we wanted to reintroduce the brand with this new release and new suite of engagement tools developed to further empower digital publishers and media companies to increase on-site engagement and grow their audience.”

In this release, Viafoura provides the framework and tools for the creation of a social network and rich user profiles to drive user-to-user interactions directly on a publisher’s site. These new engagement tools include a notification feed and browser-based push notifications to alert users of breaking news, social interactions, and information that is important to them.

“Our engagement tools are already measurably increasingly session length, visit depth, and visitor loyalty for digital publishers and media companies. This new phase takes it to the next level with a refocus on social interaction and an improved mobile experience,” confirms Dan Seaman, Product Director at Viafoura.

“The Viafoura Audience Development Platform also includes a real-time analytics dashboard to uncover the impact of on-site engagement on important KPIs to gain actionable insights,” adds Dan.

To learn more about the Viafoura Audience Development Platform, visit the Platform page.

Viafoura empowers over 600 of the world’s top media brands to engage, discover, grow with integrated user registration, engagement, moderation, and analytics tools—all in one platform.

Media Contact
Allison Munro, Head of Marketing & Business Development, Viafoura, allison@viafoura.com

Connect with an Audience Development Strategist today to learn how you can engage, discover, and grow your audience.

INMA Report: Five Takeaways to Leverage Big Data

In April 2016, INMA co-hosted Big Data Media Week.

INMA recently released Big Data for Media 2.0: Going Data-First to continue this discussion.

We’re summarizing this report and highlighting our top five takeaways for digital publishers:

1. Big Data is the “thing”

Big Data isn’t the next big thing. It’s the thing.

It’s what digital publishers need to reach advertisers, audiences, and to co-exist with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

There’s no denying digital publishers are in the data distribution business. And data is the gasoline.

Rick McFarland, Chief Data Scientist at Hearst Corp., said it best when he shared: “Hearst is not in the publishing business or even in the media business. It is really in the data distribution business. Data is the gasoline that fuels the business.”

2. Data is a company-wide strategy

Data is a company-wide strategy, touching every facet of the media operation: advertising, editorial, marketing, finance, and beyond.

With data, digital publishers can gain detailed insights into user behaviour and leverage this data to drive higher-priced advertising and subscriptions, more efficient and effective campaigns for advertisers, and personalized content to drive user engagement and loyalty.

And with the right tools and training, data can be your gasoline too.

3. Why it’s time to leverage audience analytics

By far, the #1 activity under the Big Data umbrella is audience analytics, the collection of audience usage data, with 45 of the survey-takers saying this is their top priority. Audience analytics can easily be executed almost entirely with technology.


The media companies who responded to this survey are in what INMA call “the slow” and “middle lanes” as they are just starting to develop their data-first strategy in order to get in the “fast lane” and convert their data into actionable insights and revenue.

Most media companies actually sit on stockpiles of data, both structured (about 20% in databases and website log files) and unstructured (about 80% including video and photos) and make little or no use of it. The collection of data is relatively a passive pursuit and only becomes valuable once they are actively cleaned, analyzed, and made actionable (e.g., leveraging for targeting ads or content).

4. Revenue making with big data

Understanding your audience pays off. And once you understand your audience, you can use technology to provide them tailored content and more sophisticated and exacting offers. This will drive audience growth and engagement, making retention easier and more lucrative.

Advertisers are seeking metrics from digital publishers to prove the size and scope of the audience that they are paying for on digital media.

Industry leaders from around the world confirm the potential for revenue making with Big Data:

“Data capabilities help you get more granular with your audience, commanding higher CPMs”
—Stéphane Père, Chief Data Scientist at the Economist Group

Alyson Papalia, VP, Digital Advertising Strategy & Operations at Forbes confirms, “Advertisers love data. The more reports we send the happier they are. This is a real success point.”

5. Join the data revolution

Data-first has become synonymous with customer-first strategies. Why?

Because research shows by understanding the audience deeply, serving content, advertising, and services to them based on these insights, customers becomes more loyal and will visit your site more often and for longer periods of time.

In the next few years, we’re going to see more digital publishers get on board the fast train to a data revolution, and usher in a new age of audience engagement.

Download the report to see how you can get on board too.

Viafoura empowers digital publishers to convert audience data into actionable insights and revenue. Connect with an Audience Development Strategist today to learn how you can get in the fast lane.

Interview: Tracey Todd, The National Institute for Civil Discourse


Tracey Todd

Digital content curator, Tracey Todd plays a leading role at the National Institute for Civil Discourse to encourage a social media environment where US citizens can connect, have civil dialogues, and feel empowered to create outcomes from those discussions.

Q: How do you define civility at NICD?

People can have very different values and political preferences, but can still discuss these differences in a civil manner. That’s what we stand for at the National Institute for Civil Discourse.

You don’t have to eliminate passion to have respectful dialogue. Civil discourse does not mean that your dialogue has to be divorced of passion or that civility is removed from enthusiasm in some way but rather it is a means of interacting respectfully and saying that even though you may feel strongly in your beliefs, you still recognize and respect another’s right to hold a differing opinion.

Tweet this: You don’t have to eliminate passion to have respectful dialogue @NICDInstitute @Viafoura #ReviveCivility

Q: How would you describe the current state of incivility online and why there’s a need to #ReviveCivility?

There is a need to revive civility, conversations, and collaborations between people who have different views, beliefs, and ideologies. We may all be different from each other but we’re also all human. And we always can find some common ground.

NICD strives to build those bridges and define civil discourse. NICD’s Campaign to Revive Civility rose out of the increasing incivility online, in the media, and in our political rhetoric. We’re seeing violence and vitriol rise to new levels and it’s unsettling to imagine what the future will be like if we don’t act now.

Q: Can you elaborate on the current research that supports the importance of civility in online discourse specifically?

There is an abundance of research that identifies that incivility is a problem in the government, media, and public. And it’s a real issue when we accept that incivility is just part of everyday life.

Generation Z – that’s 15-18 years old today – experience the highest rates of incivility compared to previous generations according to a recent study from Weber Shandwick. They also point to the internet and social media as to where they are experiencing this incivility.

This is unacceptable! And this should only add only more fuel to the fire that we need to work together to find solutions to the problem. We need to lay down the groundwork for the next generations.

Q: Can you elaborate on NICD’s recent research with the Engaging News Project on the increasing incivility in online comments?

NICD collaborated with the Engaging News Project to investigate the rising incivility in online comments and discourse around political rhetoric and conversations. We looked at comments on Reddit and YouTube along with interviewing university students from around the country.

The findings were similar to the Weber Shandwick study. People regarded incivility as just a part of online discourse. They were hesitant to engage in political discourse in fear of the trolls and abuse they might be subjected to online.

This highlights a numbing to vitriol, hate speech, and disrespect online. We begin to see this reflected in face-to-face discourse, our political rhetoric, and media environment.

Q: With incivility seemingly everywhere online, what can we do to make an impactful change?

It’s important to listen and to respect different viewpoints. Because seeking to understand is the first step to being understood.

NICD recently hosted a 3-day workshop with a diverse group of in attendance including legislators, reporters, and religious leaders. We gathered to explore and agree on effective actions to reaffirm the history of upholding and protecting religious freedom.

Tweet this: Seeking to understand is the first step to being understood @TraceyTodd @NICDInstitute

There were many misunderstandings. But we were in a room committed to finding some common ground so we had to work out these differences. We came out with a mutual understanding for where each side was coming from and a new appreciation that we might not have had before. I’m optimistic from that experience that there is the potential to inject respect back into dialogue and the way that we communicate both in person and online.

Webinar: Civility Matters

To learn more about the intersection of civility in politics, media, and online, watch our on demand webinar with NICD: Civility Matters.

Community Moderation Starts & Ends With Viafoura Smart Moderation

While most media organizations are focused on harnessing the value of audience engagement, many are wrestling with how best to manage growing and established communities. Communities have long been plagued by harassing trolls, armed with abusive language, and spam filling in the comment sections—all of which drives away online audiences and stops user engagement in its tracks. This is why some major media organizations have turned off their commenting feature entirely.

As we’ve established, the Business Case for Engagement is strong: active, engaged users spend more time on site, and are more likely to convert into loyal readers. And one of the primary ways users engage on site is in the comments section, even those who don’t contribute to user generated content spend their time reading the comments section, after all 68 per cent of online audiences spend more than 15 per cent of their time reading comments.

Human Moderation: Problems With The Status Quo

The groundswell of problems indicates the current commenting and moderation model is broken: trolls leave negative comments, bully community members, and engage in uncivil discord.

So how have media organizations contended with this problem? Up until recently, human moderation was the only option other than throwing in the towel and turning off commenting altogether. But as media organizations have come to discover, human moderation is time consuming and while very costly, not online 24/7. In a lot of cases, media organizations do not have dedicated moderators who can vet every comment, so the task falls to editors and/or journalists. And when audience engagement becomes moderation for the newsroom, turning engagement into a garbage removal exercise is a laborious and thankless chore.

Pre-Moderation: Killing Engagement

If you’re a publication with a large community, you’ll need a team of moderators to sift through all the user-generated content. Not only is manual human moderation labour intensive (and expensive), but it also creates a poor user experience. Users see a delay between submitting comments and watching them go live, which discourages them from engaging at all.


Post-Moderation: Window of Exposure

Moderating after comments are published opens media organizations up to having potentially libellous, harmful and irrelevant material on site (even if it’s only temporarily live). And while human moderators can account for context while approving and rejecting comments, their intrinsic biases may impact which comments are filtered—this can lead to a frustrated audience. As a result, human moderation is not sustainable or scalable as a community grows.


Social Moderation: The Limitations

Current moderation tools also fall short when it comes to filtering out negative comments.

Tools like Facebook Commenting simply don’t offer strong filters to catch all the variations on profanity, abusive comments, and bullying that often plague comment sections. With approximately 6.5 million variations of a single English word, it’s easy for trolls to hide profanity and abuse in the context of their comments. Facebook limits the number of characters in their banned words list, which makes it even more difficult for moderators to filter out abusive language.

Did you know:


  • Each word in English language has about 6.5 M variations
  • Facebook Page Moderation only allows 10,000 characters
  • The average word is 5.1 characters in length, which caps Facebook moderation at approx. 1961 words
  • Facebook moderation profanity filter is reactive, not customizable and built on community complaints

The Solution: Viafoura Smart Moderation

Then what’s the solution to empower media organizations to stop online harassment, trolls and abuse? Viafoura Smart Moderation.

Leveraging the algorithm to automate comment moderation across owned and social channels, Viafoura Smart Moderation protects media organization, journalists and community members while increasing engagement.

Viafoura Smart Moderation manages comments in real-time, and learns from post-moderation changes. Through automated moderation, comments are parsed as they’re made, and publishes or flags them based on your community guidelines. Viafoura Smart Moderation uses natural language processing and machine learning to automatically detect and hide inappropriate comments replete with personal attacks, foul language, political hostility and spam before they’re seen by online audiences.

Once flagged, these comments can either be deleted automatically or reviewed and approved/deleted by a media organization’s in-house moderator or community manager. As a result, media organizations can foster real-time dialogue between users, since the automated system monitors every post to ensure community standards are upheld.


Media organizations can leverage Viafoura Smart Moderation to do the heavy lifting when it comes to comment moderation and instead focus on engagement.

Advantages of Viafoura Smart Moderation: The 4 Cs

Viafoura Smart Moderation provides 24/7 automated commenting coverage through latent semantic analysis to reduce human moderation resources and costs. As a result, this helps media organizations uphold the 4 Cs of Smart Moderation to create a positive user experience.

4 Cs of Smart Moderation

  • Consistency: Our moderation algorithms ensure that community commenting rules are enforced 24/7, by automatically blocking unwanted comments more effectively and more cost efficiently than human moderation.
  • Context: There are millions of ways commenters can hide spam, abusive language and profanity. Viafoura Smart Moderation accurately uncovers unwanted content/language and blocks it.
  • Civility: With automatic moderation around the clock, users can engage in ongoing civil interactions in real time without fear of online abuse or harassment.
  • Cost: Viafoura Smart Moderation reduces the time and expense of human moderation, while supporting the growth of online engagement and the community.

Long Live the Comments Section!

Moderation is top of mind as media organizations aim to drive engagement, manage their community, and create a positive user experience. Up until recently, staying on top of comments and growing community engagement has proven to be a burden for many media organizations—but that doesn’t need to be the case with Viafoura Smart Moderation.

Are you ready to cut your moderation costs, uphold the four Cs, and grow your own online audience?

Ready to grow your audience in line with your community guidelines?
Watch a New Approach for Engagement for best practices on engagement, community management, and beyond.

Webinar On Demand: Civility Matters


Curious about the intersection of civility in media and politics and why it’s important to you?

Hear from Tracey Todd, Social Media Director from NICD, and Dan Seaman, Product Director from Viafoura as they discuss best practices to drive civil discourse between citizens, media, and the government.

This webinar will explore the following topics:

Key Takeaways

  • Leverage supporting research and campaigns to build the business case for civility
  • Gain insights on driving dialogue and respect online
  • Learn about current civility tools to revive civility and increase engagement


Don’t miss out on this webinar: Watch it now!

Viafoura Smart Moderation & Enhanced Community and User Management


Viafoura has developed Smart Moderation and enhanced community and user management features to help media organizations better manage online communities by eliminating trolls and increasing engagement.

More than just blocking vulgar words, Viafoura Smart Moderation and enhanced community and user management features create a safe environment for online conversations and promote higher quality comments and engagement.

“Publishers value their community but are sick and tired of the abusive and negative comments and trolling behaviour that it tends to breed,” says Jesse Moeinifar, Founder and CEO of Viafoura. “Unfortunately, the effort that’s required to cultivate a more positive and inclusive community exceeds the resources that most publishers can devote.”

“Viafoura provides automation and innovative features that save time and money, allowing publishers to focus on growing their community and not just trash removal.”
—Jesse Moeinifar, Founder and CEO, Viafoura

According to a recent study by the Engaging News Project on the topic of civil online discussion, when focus group participants thought that discussion would be civil, they expressed more interest in returning to the website.

Allison Munro, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Viafoura confirms, “It’s important to foster a civil and inclusive community in order to have quality conversations around important topics. Media organizations need to facilitate a positive environment to increase engagement and encourage users to share their different opinions.”

“When conversation is civil, users will return and engagement increases.”
—Allison Munro, Head of Marketing and Business Development, Viafoura

“The road to a politer and more welcoming online community begins by removing the trolls while also awarding and commending the best commenters,” says Munro. “The right platform to automatically manage all of this will encourage people to engage with your content and return again. The whole idea is to build a community where people want to spend their time learning and interacting.”

Viafoura Smart Moderation & Enhanced Community and User Management Features

  • Smart On-site Moderation: Smart automated algorithmic Moderation (SaaM) uses artificial intelligence based natural language processing and machine learning to detect and eliminate harassment, abuse, and other uncivil comments at the source.
  • Smart Social Moderation: Using the same algorithmic moderation system as your website, SaaM can also moderate comments on social media.
  • Community Management: Empower your community to help manage the discourse themselves through flag threshold disabling of comments in addition to user-to-user muting.
  • Status Badges and Promoted Comments: Give your best commenters “trusted user” status and badges and incentivize quality comment by promoting the best comments on your website.
  • Email Verification: Validate your users and impede multi-account creation with a sophisticated email verification system.
  • Display Name Moderation: Ensure that the display names on your website are not being used to post objectionable content.
  • Avatar Verification: Prevent obscene or objectionable images from being posted in profile pictures by moderating user profile pictures.
  • User Banning: Allow moderators to give short “time outs” and inform users of why they are being banned to help them improve.
Connect with an Audience Development Strategist today to learn how you can engage, discover, and grow your audience.

Digital Publishers Need to Quit Counting Clicks

It’s no longer just about eyeballs.

As the digital publishing world evolves and becomes more sophisticated, advertisers want to capture the minds of online audiences as well.

And that means publishers making the transition from print products to digital-first strategies need to focus not just on the breadth of audience reach, but on audience engagement.

Without the right process, people and platforms in place, these publishers are bound to miss the target and fail.

A shift in thinking is crucial to success.

In the early days as print publications moved to the web, one of the key metrics publishers and advertisers cared about was pageviews—how many sets of eyes scanned a page, even if only for a second or two. They effectively took the same measurement tool they used for print—reach, which was measured in part by circulation—and applied it to the digital landscape.

In the print model, publishers earn revenue from the reach they have in their distribution channels. Their reach allows them to sell advertisements that exist alongside readable content such as news stories.

The challenge that many publishers now face is that reach is outdated in today’s digital world. It doesn’t take into account how many people actually read or interacted with the content or advertisement. A growing number of advertisers are only willing to pay for content that was actually consumed – content where the user has engaged with it. They’re strong believers that the best indicator of content quality isn’t how many people see it, but how much time they spend with it.

The shift from media distribution to media consumption dramatically lowers revenue capacity and puts significant pressure on publishers to deliver a compelling value proposition to advertisers.

Consider publishers like The Financial Times and Say Media, which both clearly understand the relevance of engaged time and have placed it at the center of their value proposition to advertisers and users. Like a growing number of publishers, they are showing they understand that just boosting traffic isn’t enough because not all traffic converts.

As a user becomes increasingly engaged, they are more willing to pay for a digital publisher’s content or services. A recent MIT Sloan Management Review report, titled Turning Content Viewers Into Subscribers, asserts that engagement is the key to turning casual readers into paying subscribers, and the ladder model as an effective framework to boost engagement over time. Using what the research dubs the “Ladder of Participation,” publishers can prompt site users to progressively accelerate their on-site engagement to become paying subscribers.

While the engagement-focused model is beginning to resonate more strongly with a larger number of publishers, not all of them are making the transition as efficiently as they could.

Implementing an engagement model promotes readers to return, register and subscribe – and this is good for the bottom line. Engagement is driven by a commitment to identifying who your audience is and giving them what they want, when they want it. Not by spraying and praying on social media, which is the path chosen by many publishers today.

Tweet This: “Engagement is driven by a commitment to give your audience what they want, when they want it.” @jessemoeinifar

Facebook is now being used by many publishers to solve their digital publishing dilemma of increasing engagement with their community, website, brand and content creators. Publishers are handing over this huge opportunity to a platform that has its own business goals, none of which are aligned with the publishers’ – Facebook’s commitment is to itself. It is looking to solve its own audience development challenge of creating interactions with its brand, its community and its content. Facebook’s recent change to its algorithm—placing greater priority on posts from family and friends than on news feeds and posts from publishers—confirms this. The social media giant acknowledged this when it announced the change that “this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some pages.”

Digital publishers who rely too heavily on Facebook can count themselves among those who’ll see their reach dramatically reduced.

The solution comes down to owning your engagement platform in order to take full advantage of your audience and drive engagement to meet your own business goals.

When publishers commit to engagement and take ownership of their channels, and not rely on social media that has its own agendas, they can focus their efforts on increasing and owning their audience’s interactions, connections and relationships.

Tweet This: “Focus on increasing and owning your audience’s interactions, connections and relationships.” @jessemoeinifar

With Viafoura Audience Development Platform, publishers can grow their audience with their own customized solution and increase revenue. This is the first step in moving to a process and platform that is specifically built to work in today’s engagement driven digital world.


Jesse Moeinifar, Founder & CEO of Viafoura, is a serial entrepreneur with multiple successes spanning a range of industries, including real estate, digital media and software. Dedicated to disruption, Jesse is passionate about game-changing ideas and credits his accomplishments to assembling teams of smart individuals committed to solving challenging problems.

8-Second Survey: Comment on Your Commenting

Value your community but are sick and tired of the abusive and negative comments and trolling behaviour it tends to breed? Community moderation can be a heavy burden depending on how you choose to moderate. But this doesn’t have to be the case!

Viafoura can help reduce your moderation efforts, improve civility, and increase engagement on your site. With 24/7 automated commenting coverage, Viafoura Smart automated algorithmic Moderation (SaaM) reduces human moderation errors, resources, and costs, while raising civility to create a positive user experience.

Complete this 8-second survey to share what community moderation means to you and your organization. One of our Audience Development Strategist will follow up with your results and recommend which tools are right for you and your online community. You’ll also have the chance to win a Pebble Time 2 smartwatch.

Want to learn more about community moderation? Watch A New Approach to Engagement to learn why SaaM always comes out on top.