Building Community Through Live Conversations
Audiences want instant access. That means when sports journalists are reporting on a game, sports fans want to be right there with them and discuss the game as it happening and when popular television shows air, avid viewers want to chat about them immediately.
Whether it’s a subscriber-only offer, or a registration path for readers who want to participate, live conversations provide a direct route to creating a connected and personalized experience. Through informed discussions led by journalists and experts, media sites can offer community members the chance to join a live conversation they care about in real time – from wherever they are and on whatever device they choose. All of which adds brand value while creating user loyalty. After all, when you’re the source of not only the story, but the conversation too, you create and strengthen the community that is connected by your site.
Consider the following six steps to hosting live conversations directly on your site:
1. Encourage your product team and newsroom to work together
Live conversations doesn’t have to be a burden on the editorial team. There are several ways you can go about introducing new technology to your journalists’ toolbox:
- Start with your most highly engaged editor or reporter, who has an appetite for audience interactions, then build out a schedule to pilot the product. Sports, business or television programming can be a great place to start, since the schedule is often intuitive and there’s already an invested audience you can reach.
- Pick an event or topic, determine a scheduled chat time, and open up a chat as the story unfolds. From there, conversations between your editorial staff and readers will occur naturally, directly on your site. Just be sure to choose a template that can be customized easily to the event at hand, and arm your editor with the right tools so that they feel confident covering stories and kicking off conversations as they unfold.
- Provide your editors with a plan and product that align with your editorial calendar, and offer them the flexibility to cover a story or kick off a live conversation as news and events demand. With so many distractions pulling both teams in different directions, scheduled engagement time allows content creators to focus their energy and resources in a way that maximizes ROI.
Note from the field: Whichever approach is best for your team, make sure you pick a technology partner that will be there to help with training and real-time support. Easy-to-access, user-friendly tools are key, so make sure you have a partner in your vendor who will help you provide those to your team. This will make all the difference in your success.
2. Protect your staff and editors from unwanted spam and discourse
Define your community guidelines and uphold them in real time across your owned and operated channels with automated moderation to enable live conversations. Without having to worry about spam, trolls or unwanted exchanges, your editors and journalists can focus on productively interacting with their audience.
3. Engage your audience
Keep the conversation flowing by engaging your audience during a live event. Let them know in real time – through email or their newsfeed – that they’ve been invited to join the conversation already underway. You can notify a segment of top commenters, enthusiasts or subscribers, and invite them to participate with your community, journalists and experts on a topic that matters to them.
4. Participate, monitor and measure
Use this time to facilitate conversations amongst the community, and build in questions and answers. You’ll see the benefits of enhanced loyalty through more time spent on site, return visits and an increase in memberships – all while creating a personalized and value-add experience for your members.
5. Set new goals
With first-party audience data at your fingertips, you can report on key metrics from your live chat or story, benchmark your performance and monitor the impact of engagement on new user registrations, return visits, page views, ad revenue and more.
6. Roll out