National elections are notorious for creating ripples of tension and conflict throughout the public. But with political misinformation and uncertainty sure to be amplified by the pandemic, this year’s U.S. presidential election will be unlike any other previous election.
Now, news organizations will be tasked with navigating this incredibly unpredictable landscape. And media companies will need to take an all hands on deck approach to keep the public informed every step of the way.
“There’s a growing realization that the complexity of this year’s electoral landscape — from pandemic-related social distancing and poll-staffing disruptions to mail-in voting and a combustible year of public protests — likely means that some of the presidential campaign’s biggest drama might very well play out in the hours and days after Election Day,” write Vivian Schiller, NPR’s previous CEO, and Garrett M. Graff, a former editor at Politico Magazine.
Consumers will undoubtedly be surrounded by chaos during the election. That’s why it’s up to media companies like yours to cut through the inevitable misinformation and drama with engaging and truthful news coverage.
Using the following powerful community engagement strategies, you can hook the public on your accurate and responsible reporting as the election heats up.
Implement Live Blogs
Looking for a way to bump up the visitor experience on your website around the U.S. election? Live blogs offer a simple way to organize all of your reliable, relevant information — whether that be through complete articles, Tweets or even comments from staff.
Part of the appeal of launching a live blog is that you don’t have to produce an entire article on every new piece of information. Instead, you can keep your audience informed in a highly efficient way through a mixture of long-form and short-form content.
FiveThirtyEight, for instance, has launched a live blog that will keep visitors updated on critical and interesting information until the election ends.
Plus, if the election results period goes on for an extended amount of time, you can continue to direct your readers to a single information hub.
Just be sure that your readers have the opportunity to engage with your live blog so you can continue to strengthen your community. Giving your visitors the ability to comment and like your content will help your users form lasting connections with each other around your organization.
Send Out Push Notifications
On Election Day, countless news organizations will be competing with one another for consumer attention. So how do you win over that attention before your competitors do?
Relying on push notifications to break major news stories can quickly re-engage community members around new content.
After testing push notifications earlier this year that encouraged people to vote, NBC News reports that its alerts had open rates of up to 16%.
While this news coverage tactic can certainly direct attention to your news site or app during the election, it can also help ensure consumers stay informed around major topics and issues.
Personalize the News Feed
If you can delight consumers with content that’s highly relevant to their interests, you’ll have a better chance of persuading them to stay on your digital properties.
Many publishers are planning to do precisely that by personalizing online experiences in light of the U.S. election. A compelling way to customize visitor experiences is to adjust their news feeds on your website or app to reflect their behavior and content interests.
Based on a survey, the director of research at Digital Content Next explains that “consumers do expect websites and apps to collect data about them in order to personalize, protect, and improve their experience.”So when it comes to using data to delight your visitors, don’t hold back.
Recommend Trending Conversations
Comment sections can add depth to any news story and strengthen online communities.
In fact, the editorial staff at The Correspondent spend 30 to 50% of their time engaging with community members within the comments. This is because consumers form meaningful relationships and build loyal habits through conversations.
On Election Day, conversation tools will give active visitors a chance to engage with brands, exchange knowledge and, best of all, talk about content for longer.
Highlighting active conversations for your users can boost the overall power of your commenting tools. As a result, you can keep your engaged community members reading your content and interacting with other members for as long as possible throughout the election.
While this year’s election certainly has its own set of challenges for news organizations, nearly every challenge has a silver lining.
In this case, with the right tools and strategies in place, media companies have a significant opportunity to win over loyal readers with exceptional news coverage.