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.

icimédias digital properties drive new levels of engagement with Viafoura

icimédias is a group of  22 newspapers serving seven major regions of Quebec and Ontario, Canada: Chaudière-Appalaches, Estrie, Haut-Richelieu, Mauricie, Thetford, Victoriaville and Cornwall. They are the voice of thousands of citizens in their various regions.

As with many publishers, icimédias is experiencing challenges with enticing their digital readers to elevate their relationship from casual reader to actively engaged registered user. Says Marc-Noel Ouellette, General Director at icimédias, “our goal is to enhance the reader relationships while also collecting first-party data so that we can provide each reader with a unique and personalized experience”.

By integrating Viafoura’s Conversations, Live Blogs, Community Chat, Engagement Starter, Trending Articles, and Moderation solutions icimédias will have the means to drive new levels of engagement. Says Ouelette, “this will totally change our digital experience. We’re excited to enhance our relationships with our readers while ultimately driving unprecedented levels of conversions”.

Viafoura is equally excited to work with icimédias. Dalia Vainer, Director of Customer Success at Viafoura,  is quoted saying “we are looking forward to launching the Viafoura suite of solutions with icimédias! While they are already close to their readers, we’ll be taking engagement to a whole new level with personalization and first-party data”.

Ultimate Guide on Website Personalization: Tools, Ideas, and Real Life Examples

It’s no secret that a successful business organization is built upon powerful marketing strategies. But implementing a successful strategy requires you to consider several factors that foray into the digital and web-based markets, with aspects such as social media presence, paid advertisements, and community engagement playing key roles in marketing success. Amongst these, an often overlooked factor that has a similarly significant impact is website personalization.

Website personalization is a strategy that can result in a noticeable increase in customer engagement, conversions, and brand loyalty. This happens because you offer users a unique experience through the website’s personalization tools, though note that to do this, its important to have information about your users’ preferences and browser behavior.

There are several parts of your website to implement this personalization, and it can feel overwhelming when starting out. But below, we’ll go over some of the best website personalization ideas and examples to help you visualize how you can take advantage of this key aspect of user engagement.

What is website personalization?

Website personalization is a strategy that will allow you to create a unique experience for each visitor, satisfying their needs. Since you will target customers according to their behaviour, you will need data that helps you determine which products or promotions might interest them.

website personalization

Benefits of website personalization

With the website personalization ideas we will present below, you can bring endless benefits to your company. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Customer engagement

You can boost your customer engagement using website personalization tools since you will offer your website’s visitors targeted content relevant to their interests and purposes. Plus, you will be able to generate more leads and accelerate the purchasing experience for any user.

Build loyalty

With all the data you gather from the website personalization tools, you can create a unique marketing experience. That will allow you to build brand loyalty, even with new customers. To get more information, you can even acquire an identity management tool. 

More conversions

If you understand what your clients are looking for, you will know how to construct more effective strategies. Using things such as audience insights reports, you can understand the preferences of all clients. That way, you can show them what they want. In the long run, this will increase your conversions. 

website personalization

Personalized notifications

Remember that website personalization does not stop there since you need to keep in touch with your customers. For instance, you can send emails to all customers offering promotions on items they already bought. Plus, you can also use this to market all the new articles in your store.

Website Personalization Ideas

Now that we’ve answered “what is website personalization,” your next question might be “What are some examples?” So we’ve compiled a list of specific examples that some entities are using to build their web platforms. Take a look to see what you might be able to make use of for your own website personalization.

Show recognition for loyalty

Your users need to feel like they’re a welcome and essential part of your organization. A straightforward way of conveying this is to greet returning customers with a standard greeting and a returnee benefit, such as a discount coupon or a free sample of your digital products. This makes users feel valued as individuals and increases goodwill and brand loyalty, and is used across countless platforms as an effective engagement tool.

Make suggestions

If you already know the browser behaviour of your customers, you can use this data to suggest products based on their buying cycle. Suggesting content or products that are similar to those they’ve already viewed or purchased on your platform can increase convenience as well as the size and number of conversions you receive. A good personalization website example is a platform like Amazon, which provides excellent suggested content through their “related to items you’ve viewed” sections.

website personalization

Customize testimonials

When you are a big company, chances are you offer different services to your customers. For example, let’s say some of them purchase a social media marketing package while others pick an SEO one. Instead of showing them general testimonials, you can classify the users and divide the reviews. That way, clients will only see information regarding their interests.

Unique experience

Companies such as Stitch Fix have become masters when it comes to personalizing the experience of their users. For example, this clothing store collects the information of all users through a series of questions and compares it to the data they already have. As a result, the client will receive hand-picked items that will match their style. Creating your own unique experience can be a great way to make your platform stand out from competitors and remain memorable for your users.

website personalization

Tailoring to their needs

When customers arrive at your landing page, it’s necessary to help them quickly find the content they want. However, users can soon decide to end their session with you if your interface is too complicated or hard to navigate. To resolve this, ensure your website is designed for optimal, intuitive usage and provides essential information in short, easy-to-understand segments. For example, list categories of content you have available in a noticeable, neat format so users can quickly access what they’re looking for.

Storing their progress

If you are looking for the best website personalization examples, you should visit Hulu or Spotify’s platforms for some of the best. Their programs and web platforms will store progress through a selected series and notify users when new episodes or songs are available. In a similar vein, compiling your content offerings into categories and series and offering them as a set can increase the amount of time your users spend engaging with your platform and encourage them to come back and pick up where they left off.

Different background image

To sell your services to a specific client, you need to show them you care. The good news is that you can do this just using a different background image that resonates with their products. For instance, use sports-related visuals for posts, articles, and other media related to

Showing live chat

Even though many companies have a live chat available to all users, a better strategy is choosing which clients could need it. What does that mean? The purpose will be to identify high-value customers that are more likely to make a conversion. That way, your team can have more personal conversions that will increase your sales. 

With all the website personalization ideas that we have explained above, we are sure that you will notice a boost in your customer loyalty in no time. If you’re looking for more ways to use website personalization to spruce up your platform, check out Viafoura’s array of online community engagement solutions to see how we can help.

Online Community Manager: Job Description, Jobs & Salaries

The digital world we live in has changed the way people interact with companies and how they make purchases. Now, with the spreading influence of online communities and their increasing role in building a brand identity, building a brand’s reputation and awareness online is a must these days, including social media and organic presence, among many other things.

Companies need a savvy online community manager to help build a reputation as a community-based brand and engage with their audience. In addition, an online community manager can help build trust, position a brand, and improve user engagement. Think about it as a role that creates a bridge between a brand and its customers. They act as a moderator that serves as a spokesperson for the brand and communicates intent between them.

What Does An Online Community Manager Do?

A community manager is a person who usually is working closely with the Digital Marketing department. They are responsible for ensuring all the content follows the set guidelines and expanding the brand’s online community. This usually means they will also be in charge of implementing the digital engagement strategies. It is important for a community manager to understand what sets a community apart from an ordinary audience online.

The good thing about this position is that it requires skills that you can gain through different degrees. This means that it doesn’t matter whether you are a journalist or a public relations specialist – as long as you meet the requirements, you can apply to and find success in this position.

But before you start sending your resume to different companies, take a look at the online community manager job description.

Online community manager

Online Community Manager Job Description

An online community manager is responsible for building, growing, nurturing, and managing online communities. This role entails performing community management around a specific brand or purpose.

Online Community Manager vs. Social Media Manager

Even though the tasks of an online community manager and social media manager are similar, these are two different positions. The critical difference between the online community manager job and social media manager job is how they interact with the audience.

While the former is responsible for communicating as a brand, promoting products and services, an online community manager is responsible for the entire holistic brand strategy in the digital landscape.

As such, while these roles may end up merging depending on the company you work for, they carry different responsibilities. However, their core responsibility remains engaging an online community to its fullest potential.

Tasks of an Online Community Manager

Here are some of the basic tasks that an online community manager is responsible for carrying out. Bear in mind that the list of functions is not exhaustive.

Online community manager

Managing a community

Online community managers are responsible for fostering a sense of community around a brand by actively engaging with the audience. As part of their tasks, community managers need to monitor the user engagement level, set community guidelines and perform additional tasks such as identifying influencers in the industry for possible collaboration purposes. In other words, the community managers main job is to optimize the companies digital community for success.

Engage with users directly

One of the responsibilities of an online community manager is looking for loyal followers who like the brand and engage with them. They can do this by leaving comments on their posts or answering their questions on the official profile. Community managers are also able to elevate the quality of online discussions, as well as sustain meaningful relationships with the audience.  Real conversations with the audience can turn into a catalyst for growth in your publications. If you want to learn more you can watch this Webinar: How CBC Creates Real Conversations Below the Fold

Solving problems

If you have built an online community for your brand with clear guidelines, problems will sometimes still occur between members. A community manager will have to declare the final word on issues and take action in case of broken policies. However, a community manager can take advantage of automatic tools such as content moderation platforms that allow the software to perform moderation with oversight from the community manager.

Managing social media

Online community managers need to stay ahead of the competition on social media, looking out for trends within the industry. Further, an online community manager needs to deal with the press and any legal issues regarding the brand’s image online.

Maintaining optimal performance and accuracy of content

Online community managers are also involved in publishing content on the site and driving organic traffic. Therefore, they need to make sure that all the information displayed on the site is relevant and up-to-date and double-check that there are no discrepancies between the website, social media platforms, and the blog in terms of information.

Online Community Manager Salary

The average online community manager’s salary is $44,214. However, if you are an entry-level candidate, you’ll need to expect a lower remuneration starting at $35,000.

Online Community Manager Jobs

Whenever proceeding down a career path, it’s crucial to evaluate future opportunities, which means investigating potential opportunities to grow within the industry.

If you start as an Online Community Manager, you have the option of progressing to a Marketing Manager or Content Strategist with time. However, you can also choose to specialize in online platforms and work as a Digital Marketing Manager. Once you have sufficient experience and knowledge within these roles, you may one day qualify for the role of a Social Media Director.

Your Guide to Building and Engaging an Online Community

Before we jump in, let’s talk about engaging an online community. Anyone working with digital channels probably hears the word “engagement” a lot. So, what exactly is it? Some define it as a goal. Think number of followers, likes and shares you receive from tweeting out one article versus another.

But engagement is more than a metric. According to Viafoura’s product director, Daniel Seaman, it is the “expression of appreciation by your audience for the content and experiences that you are providing them.”

Gone are the days of traditional one-way interactions with audiences. These days, it is absolutely vital for brands to create positive, two-way relationships with website visitors. Ignoring your community is a great way to lose trust, content consumption and revenue.

As brand representatives, here’s how to ensure the work you are creating is not only speaking to your online community, but also encouraging website visitors to interact with your company.

The value of engagement

After gathering data from over 85 million non-registered and 2.5 million registered Viafoura users (see the chart below), we were able to conclude that registered users are more invested in the content they consume.

These individuals want to be a part of the community by interacting with others, sharing content, and opting in for real-time updates. It is also clear that the more opportunities there are to engage with a media outlet, the higher number of users there will be who are interested in registering.

In other words, an engaged and optimized digital community will lead to more website registrations and, therefore, more revenue for your company.

Per user per week Sitewide Pageviews Attention Time per visist (mins)
Registered Users* 52 98
Non-Registered Users** 4 5
Average Lift 14x 23x

Data collected Jan 2019 – May 2019
*sampled 14 unique media brands
**sampled 85M unique non-registered and 2.5M registered users

Commenting makes a difference

For the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the commenting feature is critical to its vision: giving Canadians a place to discuss their opinions. Jack Nagler, the director of journalistic public accountability and engagement at CBC, explains how commenting has helped them become a better newsroom because their readers improve the stories being told. CBC also found in a survey that 70 percent of respondents said that comments were important to them and spent at least 15 percent of their time onsite just reading comments. 

In addition, Carrie Lysenko, the head of digital at Pelmorex Media — which owns The Weather Network — says that when they tested turning off comments, there was a significant drop in pageviews and attention time. Online commenting in a safe and moderated space is, after all, a great way to drive engagement with your brand.

Getting involved

We’ve all seen it. A comment section that quickly turns into a volatile, troll-infested mess of rude comments that go against the community guidelines and has nothing to do with the article resting above it. Anyone would be happy to sit at the sidelines and read in horror instead of engaging with a troll.

But guess what? Getting involved with your brand has actually been proven to help keep the comment section relevant and civil. In a study conducted by The Engaging News Project, when the reporter interacted in the comment section of their article, the chances of an uncivil comment dropped by 15 percent.

As engagement specialists, we know how trolling can be a major deterrent for getting involved in the comment section, or enable one at all. But luckily, Viafoura can automatically moderate inappropriate and offensive comments, keeping your digital community clean and safe. Get in touch with us here for more information.


INMA 2019 Story: Why journalism should sell a service — not a product

If you want an insightful, well-researched perspective on the evolution of news media, Grzegorz Piechota is a good place to start.
A researcher at the University of Oxford and Harvard Business School, Piechota studies how technology forces change on established industries. He is the researcher-in-residence at INMA, served on the boards of major journalistic enterprises, and has spoken as a thought leader at WMEMC and WAN IFRA events the world over.
At the INMA World Congress of News Media in May, our own VP of Marketing, Martin Pietrzak, met with Piechota, who made the case that audience engagement and data-driven editorial can rebuild journalism’s place in society by presenting the reporter’s craft as a service to invest in —  rather than a product to sell.
Martin Pietrzak: You called your presentation at the INMA congress “Reader-first Newsrooms: From content factories to service providers.” How do you see the evolution of the news media business?
Grzegorz Piechota: When media switched from advertising-based revenue to consumer-based revenue, that transformation involved changing other parts of the business model as well, not only the revenue source. When you change who pays, you need to adjust your value proposition to the needs of that different payer. And then, of course, you also need to adjust your operating model to be able to deliver that value proposition.
[Publishers] were using one single product to get as many readers as possible so they could aggregate their attention and send it to advertisers — the primary customer. We were chasing reach. Now, we no longer want to sell our products to as many people as possible because we know it is impossible. Content has become a commodity. Instead, we need to sell to the people who are the most profitable. Suddenly, we need to segment our consumers based on, for example, their profitability, and adjust our products to the consumers that you want to reach.
Pietrzak: You said content is a free commodity, which stuck with me because I’m not sure every journalist would agree.
Piechota: Content is a commodity because it is available everywhere. The tools are free. Anyone who wants to spread any kind of message can do it. In capitalism, the market determines the value of content, which on Facebook, Google and other platforms is virtually free.
But the way we deliver news products today makes it possible to think about journalism not as a product, but as a service. Two articles about a certain news event can have the same value from the perspective of company economics, but one was provided by professionals that actually verified its information. So I’m not paying for the piece of information; I can find a free alternative, right? But I cannot find a free alternative from somebody professionally trained in verifying this information. If I actually want to make a better decision based on facts, I want somebody to actually verify the facts.

"The way we deliver news products today makes it possible to think about journalism not as a product, but as a service."

Grzegorz PiechotaResearcher-in-residence at INMA
Pietrzak: You mentioned managing this shift from selling a single product to selling a subscribable service requires deep audience development skills. What do publishers need to think about when developing these relationships?
Piechota: When you make decisions about your content output, you must also data mine which target groups would be interested in this content, because your business model is based on finding the most profitable customers and putting a price tag on your service for them. You have to ask if [your content] is the best fit for the segment that are actually willing to pay for it … Suddenly, the decisions about content become decisions about audiences.
Pietrzak: Is this not simply pandering… producing what people want versus what they need? You’ve raised a few of those questions showing tension between loyalty to citizens versus loyalty to “customers.”
Piechota: It’s about needs. If I want to develop part of an audience, do they need content for themselves, or do they believe in that content? The Guardian is famous for charging its users while making content available for free. How the hell does that work? They look for customers who actually want to sponsor content for other people. Its readers might think climate change is the most important problem in the world, but that most of the public doesn’t see it that way. So they want to help The Guardian develop this content to spread the message. On the other hand, I may subscribe to the Financial Times’ content to understand the market and be smarter than my competitors. These would be very different needs. But what is common is we believe that factual, verified information moves communities to make better choices.
Pietrzak: So we’re not talking about chasing big Google search trends, which we’ve seen newsrooms do a lot of in recent years.
Piechota: When you think about your audiences, the core of the service that you want to provide should be wanting audiences to stay with you. The idea that newsrooms needed to grow and maximize their reach made them focus on people who didn’t actually visit their sites. “Oh, no. On Google, people are looking for information about this singer, so we need to have a story about them.” But we’ve since realized that people who want to pay for news are people who actually already use the product. And if you want to make them pay, you need to make them use the product more. We want to focus on driving the frequency of visits, maybe the depth of visits. We want to maximize the time that they spend on a page.

"We want to focus on driving the frequency of visits, maybe the depth of visits. We want to maximize the time that they spend on a page."

Grzegorz PiechotaResearcher-in-residence at INMA
Pietrzak: This has had a huge impact on how we measure success in this business, hasn’t it?
Piechota: We’re shifting from measuring past profitability to future profitability. In the past, profitability was about measuring individual products. But now you need to look at the profitability of individual customers because some customers will be buying more products. And then, because you shift from a single sale to [ongoing] subscriptions, it means that you can plan for future revenue. You can actually, based on your data, predict the future profits from the customer relationships that you start.
Pietrzak: This is where average annual revenue per user (ARPU) comes in.
Piechota: Yes. This absolutely gives you new opportunities. Because when you know the value of your customer over the next three years, you can rethink costs of acquisition. You can think about spending more because you know that this customer will most likely not just give you $10. The right person might be worth $300. And that means that you can outspend your competitors on acquisition and use this revenue to actually improve your product.
Piechota’s newsroom is a changed newsroom — one that’s shifted from content production to audience development by providing a service to communities. Building trust through engagement, he says, will be key to future success.
Read more about how media companies can drive retention, loyalty and trust in our guide.
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