Is your media organization struggling to identify the next steps it should take to create innovative and profitable digital experiences? 

To help you find some clarity, Viafoura President and COO Mark Zohar joined Christoph Trappe, an industry thought leader, on an episode of the Business Storytelling Podcast

Throughout the podcast, Zohar sheds light on how the future of growth and success in the media industry will ultimately come down to building better digital communities

“COVID and all the things that have impacted us negatively has opened up this positive idea that we need to connect more and we need to connect better [with] digital communities,” Zohar tells Trappe. 

If establishing a thriving digital community is uncharted territory for your business, dig into highlights from the podcast below for some critical guidance and industry best practices.

What Is a Digital Community?

When you think of a community in the physical world, you probably think of a group of people who are connected based on their interests. The same is true for a digital community — it’s a group of real people who regularly engage with one another online through a host company around a common interest.

Zohar says that many digital community builders focus on creating a one-to-many community, where the host brand connects with users to encourage product feedback or promotion. 

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“That one-to-many digital community… is very transactional and doesn’t really work well,” states Zohar. “[The] best communities are the many-to-many communities, where we have this very interactive, very spontaneous, very organic affiliation engagement between community members [and] the community host.”

As brands engage and nurture their digital communities, they’re able to satisfy their audience’s need for engagement, gather actionable audience information and unleash revenue-generating power from the people within their communities.

Unlocking the Full Power of Your Community

At the moment, social media gives brands a place to engage with followers. However, brands have no control over their communities on these third-party platforms — and this lack of control prevents brands from owning the relationships with their communities and audience data. 

“Most brands who own a digital strategy want to now have a direct relationship with their community,” Zohar highlights. “They want to have that community also present on their own sites, in their own native apps [and] across their organization.”

With full control over your community, you can provide your audience with interactive and customized experiences directly on your owned and operated channels. You’ll also gain precious first-party user data, which will allow you to tailor your content and advertising strategies according to your audience’s interests and behaviors. 

As mentioned in the podcast, the end goal for building a digital community is to transform anonymous audiences into known, loyal community members. 

“Allow your community members to interact with one another, to connect with one another, to follow one another on your owned and operated channels,” says Zohar. “If you do, what that will result in is retention, re-engagement and a place that people will want to come back to.”

Encouraging On-Site Engagement

Before you can build a digital community, you’ll need to figure out how you can capture the interest of your audience members continuously.

“You can’t create a community unless there’s value for the community,” Zohar explains.  

In other words, you have to offer up exciting on-site experiences to convince people to participate in your online community. Only then will they give up their data to register or pay a subscription fee.

Allowing visitors to create social connections through conversations and live chats or access relevant and personalized content feeds can help you prove the value of your company’s community.

Content moderation is another critical part of establishing your digital properties as a healthy, worthwhile environment for engagement. 

According to Zohar, people that want to join a digital community are often pursuing meaningful conversations in a social environment that’s respectful and civil. 

Community hosts can implement a sophisticated moderation system to protect their social spaces from offensive behavior, keeping conversation meaningful and inviting.

It’s also important for community hosts to engage directly with their visitors, whether that be by highlighting good behavior in the community or prompting discussion.

At the moment, sustainability lies in your ability to monetize your audience. And, as you now know, you can unlock reader loyalty and revenue by establishing a highly engaged, interconnected community around your company. 

For more information on how to run better digital communities, you can view the entire podcast here.

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