5 Step Guide to Create a Safe Online Community

As Trust & Safety move to the forefront of legislative assemblies around the world [https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/harmful-online-content.html] [https://www.gov.uk/guidance/a-guide-to-the-online-safety-bill], creating an online community that is a safe space for all is more important than ever. And with nearly 70% of audiences spending more than 15% of their time on-site reading posts and comments, you want to ensure your guidelines cover the comments most likely to drive the community away. But the challenge remains: how do you regulate countless unknown users that have access to your platform and make sure everyone plays by the same rules?

To help build your community, we’re giving you our 5-step guide to creating community guidelines that stick.

1. State the purpose

What’s the point? Why are we here? Why are you taking the time to ensure your audience has a safe space to engage? Because your audience is the most important part of your community, how they behave on your site directly impacts loyalty, retention, and revenue. When you start by defining your purpose, you can ensure that everything that follows contributes to it. Your mission statement for your community should connect with your company’s overall vision, state your goals, and clearly explain the type of community you hope to achieve.

2. Create the rules

The next step to creating a healthy online community is to define your site’s engagement rules: starting writing. Your guidelines should clearly spell out both acceptable and expected user behavior when using your platform and participating in your community. By explicitly stating the rules of engagement, you have a standard you can point to and enforce to remind users of expected behavior or remove toxic users who refuse to follow the rules. We’re here to give you some tips on preparing your own set of community guidelines.

While guidelines will vary across communities (and jurisdictions), there are some key elements that should be covered:

  • Personal attacks: how far is too far? Are certain people fair game? Are others off-limits?
  • Vulgar or obscene content: are you PG or R? In what context is “shit” ok? What about “bullshit”? (and yes, we have a “shitlist” workshop we use that can help with examples).
  • Libelous or defamatory statements
  • Anything described as threatening, abusive, pornographic, profane, indecent, or otherwise objectionable
  • Self-promotion, including links to blogs, 3rd party social, or crowdfunding sites

And remember that even though your focus should be the do’s and don’ts for your community, including the why can help build buy-in: Use your guidelines to outline the type of community you want to create so users can know how best to contribute.

3. Make it accessible

Once you’ve spent the time and effort to define your guidelines, it’s time to share them with the world! If you want your users to play by the rules, it’s essential they have a clear understanding of them. Typically, you’ll want to ensure the users receive your guidelines when registering. We recommend including your mission statement and a link to your guidelines and an FAQ page just above the conversation for easy reference. Having your guidelines live on a dedicated page of your site can also be helpful for internal reference and dealing with complaints, so make sure you’ve got them laid out in a way that’s easy to navigate – consider subheadings for each category outlined above, with specific examples where possible.

4. Enforce the Guidelines

Now comes the messy part – outlining the penalties for failing to follow the rules. This can be especially tricky, depending on your revenue model. Enforcing a zero-tolerance policy can be more difficult when dealing with paid subscribers than anonymous users. Still, it’s crucial that users know they are responsible and accountable for their behavior on your site. As a best practice, we recommend defining different severities of offenses and how they are handled – a low-level offense such as name-calling might earn a short ban with a message reminding the user of how to engage:

Other mid-level offenses, such as offensive usernames or repetitive self-promotion, might use a three-strike and you’re out system, whereas doxxing or libelous comments might have zero tolerance. Wherever you land, defining the consequences and even preparing the messaging will ensure that your team is ready to copy and paste and be consistent in their messaging and that users know the rules aren’t just for show.

5. Start Moderating

Finally, crafting your guidelines is the easy part. The backbone to enforcing your guidelines and building communities is your moderation team. Whether this will be their primary role or yet another hat they wear, you’ll need to ensure you have team members on hand to ensure your guidelines are applied in a timely and consistent manner. Whether you handle moderation in-house or outsource it to a 3rd party, all moderators should undergo specific training that reviews your guidelines and their practical application and instills the ability to identify and manage unconscious bias. This will provide a more holistic understanding of the guidelines, empowering moderators to apply them more objectively. While hiring moderators can get expensive if your community is very active or posts controversial topics, an automatic content moderation solution can help maximize your resources.

Final Word

While creating a safe community in an online world can be a daunting challenge, starting with these five simple steps can help set you on the path to success.

Why Comment Moderation Vendors Need to go Above and Beyond to Protect Their Partners

Media companies, like all brands, are looking to build recognition and trust by publishing user-generated content. However, publishing this content isn’t risk-free: organizations need to ensure that users aren’t publishing offensive or threatening posts on their websites or apps. This is where content moderation comes into the picture.

In today’s modern environment, organizations are doing everything possible to ensure that civility exists on their digital properties while, at the same time, promoting free speech and opinionated conversations. Many of them have implemented moderation solutions that use live moderators or run automated algorithms to solve this challenge.

The general population has also become aware of moderation especially what it does and why it’s being used. So what happens when your moderation partner becomes more than another ordinary technology vendor?

Recently, a Viafoura customer and one of the largest publishers in the UK discovered why the Viafoura moderation team is so much more than a partner.

The publisher uses both the AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Live Moderation solutions from Viafoura. As the AI solution learns and enforces the community guidelines set forth by the publisher, 85% to 90% of all comments are easily moderated by its AI engine. The remaining “questionable comments” are sent to a live moderator for a judgment call.

Earlier this year, one of those comments was sent to a live moderator at Viafoura. A user made a threat to a nursery in the commenting section, which of course was flagged and sent to the moderation queue.

Instead of just blocking the comment and banning the user, Viafoura’s moderation employee contacted the publisher’s team to explain the situation. The employees at the large publishing company immediately addressed the situation with local law enforcement.

In under half an hour of the comment being posted, the police took action.

Thanks to the quick thinking of Viafoura and the publisher’s employees, who went the extra mile, a potentially terrible situation was entirely avoided.

“Moderation is much more than a judgment call of ensuring user-generated content upholds platform-specific guidelines and rules to establish the suitability of the content for publishing,” says Leigh Adams, director of moderation services at Viafoura. “Yes, we are all about maintaining our customers’ standards, but it’s also about recognizing when a comment has to be escalated. We pride ourselves on having staff that know what to do when and go the extra mile to reach out to our customers because we have the relationship to do that easily.”

Overcoming News Avoidance And Winning Back Your Audience

If nothing else, one positive element that emerged from the pandemic is a renewed focus on mental health and wellness. From one week to the next, people worldwide became shut-ins whether they wanted to or not. They were forced to sit at home and, after burning through all that Netflix had to offer, think. Think, reflect, and become aware of their mental health in ways that had perhaps been easier to avoid in the before times. 

With this time for reflection, it’s no wonder people began to notice the correlation between their moods and mental health and the non-stop emotional rollercoaster of the news cycle throughout the pandemic. In one sitting viewers would be subject to an inspiring video of Italians singing from their balconies in quarantine, followed by horrifying stories of people trapped in their homes with deceased loved ones – all while a chiron at the bottom of the screen provided an ever-updating death counter. 

While the news cycle is not known for being a constant source of uplifting content, the pandemic brought to light the impact that bad news has on our mental well being. It’s no wonder that new audience behaviors emerged. Ones that, to the detriment of publishers everywhere, would have us sooner look away and avoid the news than tune in to have our days ruined by yet another article about the latest existential threat. 

Mental health effect on news avoidance trends

News avoidance: the active or intentional resistance or rejection of news

Though still in the early days of this new behaviour, studies have indicated that people the world over have become more selective of the content they consume. It is a means of mitigating the negative feelings that come hand in hand with a news cycle that seems to skew ever more negative, concerning, and depressing.

In the early days of the pandemic, according to data compiled by Nielsen, publishers tracked a 60% increase in news content consumption, globally. What were the headlines during that period? Stories related to the pandemic, as well as political crises occurring around the world, with more than a few notable mentions belonging to the United States.

As time went on and the headlines became ever more tragic, an overwhelming sense of burnout amongst audiences was being fueled by the news. In an annual Reuters survey of over 90,000 participants in 46 different markets, it was found that 43% of people said the non-stop barrage of COVID-19 or political news triggered their decisions to embrace selective news avoidance. Additionally, 36% of those same respondents said their moods were negatively affected by all the predominantly depressing nature of the news cycle.

Publishers have since then have found themselves in an impossible position: report honestly on the grim nature of our world’s current events and suffer decreased views, report sensationally and lose credibility, or report on benign topics like celebrity divorces and scandals to keep people entertained but uninformed?

Negativity crushes trust, increasing news avoidance

Not only a tricky situation for editorial and content teams, news avoidance has also made it difficult to build communities of passionate and engaged followers. It’s even more difficult when the news itself is deemed untrustworthy by misguided or misinformed consumers. The United States, in particular, has to grip with this growing trend. Only one quarter of US respondents say they trust their nation’s news media.

Audiences will always have thoughts and opinions, particularly when it comes to larger than life concepts like the spread of a pandemic or an insurrection to overthrow democracy. It’s natural to want to share those thoughts and open up a discussion about those ideas, something that the comment section of an article is quite literally made for.

However, nearly one out of five respondents to the Reuters study said they skew towards news avoidance because sharing their opinions lead to arguments they’d rather avoid. This goes right to the heart of the challenge that publishers face as they attempt to come up with solutions for their waning engagement and subscription rates. If people don’t feel comfortable expressing their viewpoints, not only will they avoid engaging in open discourse around enticing subject matter, it’s likely that they will avoid the content altogether.

How to overcome news avoidance and win over audiences

So what can publishers do to overcome news avoidance and build thriving communities of passionate readers? Answer: an audience-first, data informed growth strategy.

By putting the interests of your audience first, creating content that aligns with your orgnizations values, and the goals of your editorial and publishing teams – you’re in good shape to start diminishing the risk of news avoidance. If you’re able to position yourself as a publisher who delivers high-quality content and makes space for community and healthy discourse, you’re on track to winning back your audience and gaining access to valuable first-party data that will further inform your efforts.

Behavioural insights are essential in the current digital publishing landscape. That data can be difficult to acquire without an analytics team, but turn-key solutions do exist.

Shadow banning against community violators

Platforms built by moderators to help other moderators maintain a positive community are available to you and your teams.

One valuable tool for community moderation is time-based shadow banning. These “timeouts” can be handed out to people who frequently disobey community guidelines and spread toxicity. 

Labeling comments can help reinforce those guidelines further, highlighting ones that are aligned with guidelines, ones that are veering off topic with more random postings, and even flagged as outright attacks on authors or other community members. Through careful and considerate moderation you’ll be better able to promote cooperative and respectful dialogue among readers. By making the space for discussion safer, you’ve created an inviting opportunity to potential users who may have been avoiding your content as a means of dodging unwanted conflict and toxicity.

IP lookups to restrict or block suspected trolls

Publishers, obviously, need to grow their audiences to stay afloat. A healthy, sizeable viewership is essential to revenue, data informed learning opportunities, and not to mention extremely appealing to advertisers and affiliates eager to spend money to connect with those readers.

Unfortunately, if trolls or extremists harass other community members to the point of pushing them towards news avoidance, the quality of the viewership is greatly diminished. Quantity is not better than quality, even when views and shares are important metrics to help boost subscriptions.

Instead, you can use platforms with built-in IP address lookup capabilities to find these bad actors and moderate their posts so they can no longer disrupt the rest of the community. This will also help you avoid inadvertently violating publishing guidelines of your affiliates and risk losing vital business, which was a hard lesson learned by the people of Parler following January 6.

Moderate conversations, live events, community chats, and reviews

Finally, use your moderation console to encourage healthy dialogue across all digital streams affiliated with your publication. This can include conversations in the comments section of an article to interactions among live events and community chats. You can even influence the tone of ratings and reviews about your publication to stop misleading negativity from spreading.

The console plugs directly into each of these forums, allowing your entire editorial team to work out of the same space and enforce consistent guidelines across each outlet. Not only will this increase the efficiency and productivity of your team, but you’ll set a standard for your audience about what kind of community they can expect from your publication. This is how you set the stage to build trust and authenticity, two absolutely necessary traits to grow your audience.

While the world is ever-changing and readers adjust the way they consume content, publishers need to be mindful of how to create spaces that can be informative, safe and encouraging for their readers.

ACM – propelling new levels of community engagement with Viafoura

ACM, is comprised of more than 140 leading rural and regional news brands. ACM serves millions of people in every state and territory across Australia. Its mastheads include the Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald, The Examiner, The Border Mail, The Courier, Illawarra Mercury, The Land, and agricultural titles like The Land and Queensland Country Life.

ACM is a modern media network that’s passionate about implementing new technologies, making its newspapers and websites the best-in-class for regional journalism. Tom Woodcock, Digital Marketing Manager, notes that ACM  strives to create an environment that will both engage and grow its communities and be a place that  editorial teams can easily manage and be proud of. With the use of Viafoura’s full suite of services, including Live Blogs, Community Chat, Conversations, and Moderation, community engagement will be propelled to new levels.

Woodcock says that, “Prior to using Viafoura’s solutions, we were faced with older technology that wan’t driving the engagement levels we desired from the community, challenged our moderation standards, and gave us little insight with respect to data.”  Now, ACM audiences will be able to interact with journalists and each other, while Viafoura’s real-time moderation engine will ensure that toxic comments are flagged and conversations remain civil. “We are excited for our future with Viafoura”

“Viafoura is thrilled to welcome ACM as our first Australian customer! We can’t wait to see how they put this solution to work to deliver an enhanced engagement experience for their users and drive deeper data and insights.”  says Dalia Vainer, Director Customer Experience at Viafoura.

Best Practices From A Data-Driven Audience Engagement Manager

Audience engagement managers have become a core component of publishing teams in newsrooms across the country. An audience engagement manager’s primary purpose is to manage how the audience evolves from casual readers to engaged members of the community.

To do that, they need the right audience engagement solution to moderate how people flow through the customer journey across your website. You want a platform that will encourage conversations to occur about your content so that people form an attachment to your brand and your community.

Brand attachment and affinity breeds customer loyalty. As an audience engagement manager, customer loyalty is one of the most important KPIs to measure the effectiveness of your strategy. Using the right audience engagement platform, you can leverage detailed audience profiles built upon first-party data insights to create the types of personalised content experiences that will help build that customer loyalty.

Know your target conversion rates

The aim of most publications is to increase the number of subscribers who willfully choose to consume and interact with your content. These companies use metrics like paywall stop rates to measure how many unique visitors are choosing to go beyond the paywall and become subscribers. A metre stop rate of 5 to 7 percent should be the target to measure effectiveness; if you’re performing above that threshold, you have a very active and engaged audience.

As the audience engagement manager, you also want to segment the types of people who are hitting your paywalls into different tiers of users. Start by creating segments for the one-time and passive visitors, which are people who interact with one to five pieces of content over the course of a month’s timeline.

Then there are the active users who regularly consume your content, perhaps on a daily basis. According to The Shorenstein Centre on Media, Politics and Public Policy, a subsidiary of the Harvard Kennedy School research centre, approximately 9 percent of your users can be classified as active or regular readers of your content.

With those benchmarks in hand, an audience engagement manager can formulate strategies for how to meet or exceed those targets.

Identify the needs and interests of key demographics

As an audience engagement manager, you need to create content and communication strategies that speak the same language of your target audience. To do that, you need to develop deeper insights into what topics get their attention, how they’re likely to interact with different pieces of content and, perhaps most importantly, what is least likely to earn their attention and engagement.

One of the best ways to monitor that engagement is to use the right on-site metrics. As an audience engagement manager, you can use first-party data like page views, on-site engagement actions, time spent on pages, overall retention rates, and more insights to build rich audience profiles.

Those profiles will tell you more about what your readers are most interested in when interacting with content on your website. Using those insights, you can develop personal engagement tactics to grow the size of your audience base and guide more people to become those highly valued active consumers of your content.

What to look for in an audience engagement platform

So what is the type of solution best suited to help you create effective audience engagement strategies that help drive higher subscriptions and fuel growth for the business? Above all else, you need to know that the platform you integrate into your site can help you achieve your goals for the business.

Remember that sustainable audience growth is based on engagement and the valuable exchange of moments you have with your community. A beneficial audience engagement platform should help you acquire predictive analytics and data-driven insights to make logical decisions with your content, which will further enhance the value of your website experience.

Focus on how to drive up customer loyalty

For example, a strong audience engagement platform will improve engagement across your website. It can potentially increase conversion rates up to 25 times above existing site conversion rates.

Higher engagement and conversion rates is an excellent indicator of user lifetime value, which is indicative of strong customer loyalty among your users. Graham Media Inc. was one media company that sought to achieve this exact objective and, thanks to their partnership with Viafoura, they were able to boost user lifetime value by over 150 percent.

Final takeaways

Above all else, any audience engagement solution you implement should be provided by experts that can function as partners to your business rather than simple vendors. Your partner should be proactive by providing you with strategic recommendations on how best to gain those valuable insights from the platform. Once you have that first-party data on hand, you can focus on how to implement the takeaways and optimise your content to help drive direct impact on your business.

By leaning on insights gleaned from these platforms, audience engagement managers can spend more time on the big picture. You can focus more time coaching the rest of your publication team on how best to use these insights and improve engagement with audiences across all digital channels.

The benefits of hosting positive online interactions

When a person has a negative experience with a company, their most logical course of action is to cut off all interactions with that business. In the same sense, having troll-infested commenting sections on your company’s website or app can drive people away from engaging experiences and content.

Keep in mind that 13% of people will abandon an online service altogether if it’s associated with online harassment in any way.

The reality is that people are less loyal to brands that allow toxicity to exist in their online social spaces.

Companies that keep their commenting spaces free of toxicity and trolls with an advanced moderation system allow users to have positive interactions around their brands, leading to serious, tangible advantages for publishers.

Accessing the advantages of well-moderated social spaces

Think of it this way: Users that have positive social experiences with your brand are more likely to stick around longer to interact with your company’s website. And that translates directly into having more rich, consented, first-party data that you can draw from your audience’s activity.

This data is key to your company’s success ⁠— and you can collect it easily on your website through interactive tools, like commenting solutions.

But not all interactive, community-building solutions are strong enough to help media companies shape positive user interactions. Nor do they all offer full access to first-party user data.

To keep social spaces free of toxic behaviour, publishers should take on moderation tools that can instantly understand and block all 6.5 million variations of offensive words and adapt as language evolves. It’s also just as important to make sure that extensive first-party data can be drawn from any social tools used.

Publishers that use advanced moderation services to reinforce positive audience experiences can then improve business results by accessing in-depth user data, including the following information types:

Audience interests

While monitoring content performance and visits on a page may have been enough for media companies in the past, today, publishers need to dig deeper to meet audience expectations.

“[What] sets successful newsrooms apart is that they do not use data to merely track content but to better understand their audience.” writes Marcela Kunova, an editor at Journalism.co.uk. “Listening to their users helps them discover their needs and then tailor the news products and services to make the audience happy.”

And well-moderated social experiences can help media companies unlock a massive amount of information about what their users are interested in.

Some of this data can be pulled from comments that express what your audience wants to see more or less of. You can also monitor content topic and author follows as well as user engagement levels around different stories to see what’s resonating with your community the most.

Predictive knowledge

If you want to consistently earn your audience members’ attention, you’ll have to meet their expectations even as their needs and wants evolve.

After all, 64% of people will happily exchange their data for relevant experiences. Plus, almost half of consumers are disappointed when media companies don’t suggest good content recommendations.

There’s an easy way to meet your consumers’ expectations, though. You can simply use engagement data to predict their future behaviours.

More specifically, your audience members will leave a trail of enriched data as they have positive interactions with your company’s social tools. From there, engagement data can be collected, analyzed and used to predict how likely users are to subscribe, unsubscribe and interact with specific content topics.

This advanced information can be fed into different tools and strategies, allowing publishers to offer captivating personalized experiences, subscription offers and re-engagement campaigns.

Insight on user habits

There’s a clear connection between your community’s everyday habits and their loyalty toward your brand.

Greg Piechota, the International News Media Association’s researcher-in-residence, explains that “[creating] habits in your readers is critical to maintaining them as subscribers and reducing churn.

“Ultimately, the more you can encourage users to get in the habit of visiting your website or app, the more likely they are to become loyal to your brand.

You can find out whether or not your audience members are developing worthwhile habits based on the frequency of their positive interactions across your digital properties.

The impact of positive user interactions on your company

Currently, 500 leading publishers worldwide could lose up to 52% of their revenue as third-party cookies disappear just because they’re missing out on critical first-party data.

Meanwhile, hosting safe and positive user experiences online can bring publishers 35% more comments — and that means more actionable data and related revenue for your company.

So by making sure that your audience’s interactions across your digital properties remain positive, you can maximize your ability to collect fully consented data and strengthen business results.

The Twitter takeover — another reason to build engaged and active communities on your owned and operated properties

Monday April 25th, 2022, Twitter’s board accepted billionaire Elon Musk’s offer to buy the social media company and take it private. The announcement ends what can only be called a weeks-long media firestorm as Musk offered to buy the company for $44 billion. Twitter stockholders will receive $54.20 for each share of common stock — a significant premium over the stock’s price from just months earlier.

Musk has often referred to himself as a “free speech supporter” and has been a loud critic of content moderation policies put in place by organizations, like Twitter, to stem the flow of misinformation, enforce authenticity and prevent harassment.

Musk also seems to believe that he’s advancing the free speech movement by taking over the social platform. For instance, he claims that he wants “to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots and authenticating all humans.”

Generally, the news has raised eyebrows.

Between Musk’s recent statements and the implied return of users currently banned from the platform, many believe he’s bound to run into conflict with multiple regulators. Now, Thierry Breton, the European Union’s commissioner for the internal market, has warned Elon Musk that Twitter must follow the rules on moderating illegal and harmful content online.

What does this mean to publishers dependent on social media platforms like Twitter? According to Musk, he plans to have less content moderation on Twitter. This means that publishers will soon be at the mercy of his social media strategies, which will be based on his own definition of truthful or accurate news and a free-sharing audience.

The bottom line is that publishers must be in control of their community guidelines and content moderation. In other words, they need to be in a position where they can protect against misinformation and personal attacks on their journalists.

For this reason, publishers need to invest in building their communities and audience conversations away from social media. After all, there’s no better way to keep audience engagement where it belongs — directly on publisher-owned websites!

Many digital publishers have already started moving to adopt on-site engagement strategies and solutions, including real-time conversations and live Q&As, to grow audiences, gather first-party data and ultimately drive sustainable monetization. However, Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter has highlighted the need to accelerate that strategy.

Rest assured that wherever Twitter goes from here, Viafoura will be ready to clear you a path for building an engaged and safe online community.

4 ways to know if the comment moderation solution you need is also aligned with your editorial brand

Choosing the right moderation solution can be challenging, and many organizations find that their current moderation solution isn’t up to the standards of their brand. When your comment moderation solution is not aligned with your brand, it reflects poorly on you and alienates your user community. 

If you want to build a thriving brand, you need to offer an exceptional experience for your audience. That means not settling for mediocre moderation and having a community engagement solution with a full suite of tools at your disposal to moderate your community, including shadow banning, IP lookup, troll management, likes, and follows. 

A comment moderation solution that’s truly aligned with your brand doesn’t just seamlessly blend in with your environment; it also reflects your brand’s value and enhances your business.

Research shows that when you implement engagement solutions across your platform, anonymous users spend more time on your site and become 25.4 times more likely to convert. 

This article will examine some of the core features and attributes of an on-brand moderation solution that can protect your community, your newsroom, and your brand as you grow over the long term. 

1. Predictive analytics

Using a solution with predictive analytics is vital for gaining better insights into your community, so you know and understand what matters to them most. Without it, your content strategy will be based on guesswork. 

Your ability to offer relevant content and experiences to users will determine the strength of your brand. If you’re a brand that offers up-to-the-minute coverage on topics that interest users, they’re going to engage with your brand more than they would if you offer them stories that are better suited to another target audience.

2. Are you working with a vendor or a partner?

If you’re looking for a solution that has the capacity to evolve with your brand long-term, then you need to ensure you’re working with a partner rather than a vendor. While a vendor will place ads across digital assets to maximize your online visibility and offer revenue share, they will treat you as more of a financial investment than a client.  

A true partner will work alongside you on a SaaS payment model to help you innovate new strategies that drive registrations, and acquire unique user data that allows you to enhance your brand and the way you serve customers.

Group of celebrating business partners

3. Automated moderation

When building a user community on your website, you need to have a strategy to deal with toxicity if you want to protect your users and your brand. Failure to moderate toxic comments can be extremely damaging to your organization’s reputation. 

For instance, Twitter’s inability to deal with hateful comments has damaged the organization’s brand by having users call the platform out for being a haven for toxicity, with Amnesty International going as far as branding the site “a toxic place for women.” 

As a result, it’s essential to have a chat room with automated moderation to ensure that you can keep the conversation free of abuse, harassment, hate, and uncivil comments in real-time.

It’s important to remember that a quality moderation solution isn’t a banned word list; it’s a complete AI-driven solution with semantic moderation that can infer the intent and meaning of uncivil comments independently.

4. First-party data collection

Any effective community engagement and moderation solution should have the ability to gather first-party data. 

Deploying an engagement tool that can collect first-party data is vital to making sure that you can develop detailed insights into your audience, which you can use to offer personalized content recommendations and news feeds that keep them engaged. 

For example, simply offering your users a personalized news feed can help you generate 3.15 more page views.

By collecting first-party data, you can identify what topics users are interested in, what authors they’re most likely to follow, and recommend pieces that are not just likely to engage them on the site but that are also going to interest them.

Elevating your brand with comment moderation

A comment moderation solution that is aligned with your brand will elevate the user experience and make your audience trust you even more. 

Features like AI-driven predictive analytics, first-party data collection and automated moderation give you a strong foundation to start building a safe and thriving user community.

Anything less, and you run the risk of offering a poorly optimized, irrelevant, and toxic community experience for your users and your journalists. 

4 reasons to stop depending on social media for audience data and community building

Over-reliance on social media is one of the biggest mistakes that media companies make. Many brands spend so much time and money trying to develop content for social media even though their business models don’t benefit media organizations, nor are their community guidelines aligned. 

Worse still, even if an organization builds a following on social media, their operations are susceptible to social media companies and big-tech changing rules that can destroy their hard work overnight. 

The writing on the wall is that over the long term, depending on social media for audience data is a lost cause.

With Pew Research finding that the percentage of US adults getting their news from social media decreased from 36% in 2020 to 31% in 2021, now is the ideal time for companies to start investing in building their communities on their own websites, so they can start collecting, maintaining, and learning from their first-party data.

We’ll examine four reasons to reduce your dependency on social media, so that you can generate better results for your content. 

1. Gathering first-party data

One of the core problems with staying on social media is that you have to rely on third parties to collect data on your audience. While social media providers’ analytics solutions are useful, they give you limited controls over how you analyze user data and the insights you can gain into their preferences. 

By moving off social media and building a user community on your owned and operated sites, you can collect first-party data from your audience and provide customers with new data signals that they don’t currently have to enhance your data strategy. This also allows you to make better editorial and personalization decisions. 

The ability to develop more sophisticated insights is a key reason why 88% of marketers say collecting first-party data was a priority last year.

2. Reducing toxicity

It’s no secret that toxicity, harassment, and abuse on social media are rampant. Organizations like Facebook and Twitter have consistently failed to address these issues, both for audiences and journalists. 

A recent survey found that 8 out of 10 journalists said harassment on social media is a “very big” or “moderately big” problem. Another study finds that 79% of users say social media companies are doing an only fair or poor job of addressing online harassment or bullying. 

To prevent toxicity and ensure commenters and journalists alike are safe to voice their opinions, it’s critical to build a user community on your site with an AI-moderated community engagement solution that can automatically remove hateful or abusive content before it deters users from contributing to the conversation. 

3. Creating a connection with your audience

Building a connection with your audience is vital for establishing long-term loyalty and keeping users coming back for more. Developing a user community on your site and providing opportunities for them to influence the direction of live content is an excellent way to show you value their opinions. 

For example, a journalist can produce a Q&A session on current events, from the Ukraine war to COVID-19 travel restrictions, to answer the audience’s top questions and offer more relevant content or coverage. 

Live blogs, Q&As and AMA sessions are all examples of content you can create on your site that you can’t replicate on social media, and are used by some of the top media companies in the world, including the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Independent.

4. Limited reach on social media

In recent years, social media companies have become increasingly pay-to-play and limited the organic reach of content to incentivize organizations to pay for advertising to reach users. This has had the side effect of decreasing the visibility of free content.

For instance, Facebook posts reach an average of 2.2% of followers on a page, which makes it difficult to deliver content to users consistently. 

So if you want to maximize engagement on your content, you need to offer it to your audience on your own site and use platforms like Facebook and Twitter as tools to funnel traffic.

Stop using social media to build a user community

Social media is a useful tool for advertising your brand, but it’s not the best place to build a user community, start a conversation, or generate detailed insights into your audience. 

By implementing community engagement solutions on your owned and operated digital properties, you can put your site at the heart of your user community and start gathering first-party audience data to better understand your users’ interests and preferences.

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