Online toxicity is something that nobody should have to put up with, whether they’re a visitor on your site or a member of your team who feels personally attacked and harassed by the comments on their articles. Yet it’s something that happens all too often.
According to a survey conducted by the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Media Engagement, 33.9% of news commenters and 40.9% of news comment readers name argumentative comments as the reason that they avoid commenting or reading comments. That means to build a safe and active user community, you need to support your people, and that includes both your audience and your team.
Making your comments section safer will make your editorial team comfortable with building their following on-site free of harassment, which will then allow you to collect declarative data from your audience.
Below, we’re going to look at five ways rich engagement solutions can improve the quality of your community’s conversations to build not just a civil space for your audience to communicate, but also a brand-safe environment to grow your revenue.
1. Letting your editorial team build their following on-site
A community engagement solution with a comments section is perhaps the most valuable resource you have at your disposal.
Placing a gated comments section on your site lets you draw user conversations away from social media and onto your brand’s website, where your editorial team can start to build their following and form a deeper relationship with their readers.
An engagement tool with a comments section also allows you to gather declarative data from your audience to see what types of content they engage with the most, down to the topics and authors they prefer. With this information, you can provide curated content recommendations to try and increase their time on your website.
2. Impact of civil community on engagement
No matter how good your content is, users aren’t going to stay on your site if trolls are openly harassing them with personal attacks and hate speech. While many brands have chosen to turn off comments due to toxicity, this isn’t good for long-term growth as it reduces the average time a user spends on the site.
The most effective solution for dealing with toxicity and creating a civil community is to use AI moderation, which is essential to keep your comments free of harassment, abuse, racism, sexism, and spam.
Argentina’s leading conservative newspaper La Nación recently took this approach by deploying a community engagement solution that preemptively moderates comments before they go live to make sure that no one has their experience adversely affected by abusive comments.
3. Using the community for sourcing and investigative follow-ups
When you use a community engagement tool to provide a space for your audience to communicate, you give them the opportunity to actively play a greater role in your content creation process by helping journalists source stories and conduct investigative follow-ups.
As loyal users of your site, your audience is often the best judge of what stories are relevant to other users and can recommend what stories you should cover. Having authors leave comments welcoming other users to provide tips (or even putting up a tips web page) is a great way to make them feel heard.
Allowing your audience to participate in sourcing stories lets them know you value their support, while helping them form a deeper relationship with your brand and your journalists, which will make them more likely to stay on the site long-term.
4. Creating more relevant newsletters
When backed with the right data, newsletters are one of the most potent engagement tools that you have at your disposal, as they enable you to engage users via their inboxes and encourage them to click through to your site.
However, the success or failure of a newsletter depends on how personalized it is. If you don’t have access to the right data, you’re not going to provide your readers with relevant content.
Using your community engagement solution to gather first-party data can help you identify which trending articles and topics to send users. They’ll be more likely to interact with the content and click through to your site.
5. Creating a brand-safe environment
Advertisers are the backbone of many modern media organizations and are vital for monetizing the content that journalists produce. Yet many publishers struggle to create brand-safe community spaces that advertisers are comfortable placing ads on.
This is particularly true if a user community has problems with toxicity and abuse, since it’s unlikely that advertisers are going to want to feature their products alongside such negative sentiments.
As a result, using a community engagement tool with AI-driven moderation is essential for making sure that your site is brand safe for your, and for your advertisers.
Use engagement to deepen your relationship with your audience
If you want to deepen your relationship with your audience, you need to offer them a space that engages them. That not only means building a user community, but also proactively moderating the conversations they’re having to make sure they’re free to communicate without being harassed.