Building a loyal following isn’t a short-term effort. It’s a long-term process that requires you to break down rich first-party data to identify the type of content that engages your audience. Without first-party data, it’s very difficult to know what type of audience a journalist is building. 

Implementing a community engagement platform to collect first-party data from registered users is essential for finding out what types of content your users like, planning future content, and developing a strategy to create a following around your journalists and your content. 

Below, we’re going to look at some tried and tested ways media organizations can build a following around their journalists, their coverage, and their brand, from driving registrations to personalizing newsfeeds and producing live Q&As.

Drive registrations to capture first-party data

Getting visitors to register to your site is the first step toward building a loyal following because it enables you to start collecting first-party data to analyze users’ preferences, so you can create and recommend content that’s relevant to their interests. 

When building a following, the easiest way to encourage your audience to register on your site is to provide them with a gated comment section where they can enter their name and email address to leave their opinions on articles and interact with other users. 

It’s worth noting that once a reader subscribes to your site and participates in the comment section, your journalists can start to monitor their feedback to identify what topics they’re interested in, so they can create more engaging content and start to build a bigger following.

Provide users with personalized newsfeeds

Today, consumers expect personalized digital experiences whether they’re shopping online or searching for news. As a result, it’s becoming more important for media organizations to provide their audience with personalized newsfeeds so that they spend more time on-site engaging with relevant content. 

The best way to personalize newsfeeds is with an AI-driven community engagement platform that lets you see what types of articles users spend the most time on and their sentiments toward particular topics and journalists, so you can recommend the types of stories they’re most likely to be interested in.

For instance, if someone reacts to an article on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by clicking the “like” button, the AI can infer that the user is interested in left-leaning news coverage and recommend other political topics and authors that a democratic supporter might also be interested in reading or following.

Gain loyal followers by offering live Q&As, AMAs, and interactions with guarded journalists and speakers

If you want to increase your loyal followers, live content like Q&As and Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions can be a powerful tool to build a closer relationship between your journalists and your audience. 

Live content like Q&As and AMAs gives your audience an opportunity to interact with journalists they wouldn’t be able to reach normally. 

Direct interaction between your journalists and users makes the audience feel like you value their opinions, while also giving them a chance to ask questions, fact-check live content and recommend future topics they’d like to see covered.

Keeping the conversation civil with automated moderation

When building a user community, you need to have a strategy to address toxicity if you want to retain your audience long term. If you don’t have a solution in place to moderate comments and remove hate speech or abuse, then the conversation can quickly spiral out of control and push people away.  

For example, on Twitter, toxic messages accounted for 21% of all conversations around the Covid-19 pandemic. The high level of toxicity across social media is a key reason why as little as 18% of Americans believe social media companies are doing an excellent or good job at addressing online harassment. 

Automatically moderating comments with an AI-based solution is critical for making sure that abusive content is removed from the conversation, while also ensuring that your audience has a safe space to communicate with each other and with your journalists to form a greater connection.

Give your audience the content they want

Getting to know your audience in real-time with first-party data is the key to building a loyal following around your journalists and your brand. The better you get to know your users through their data, the better you can develop the content they want to see.

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