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. 

The difference between a vendor and a partner, and how this translates into sustainable audience growth

Many organizations that try to build their own user community run into the same problem; they pick a vendor rather than a trusted partner. It’s a mistake that means they don’t feel valued as a customer, while the vendor doesn’t care about their business outcomes. 

If you want to achieve sustainable audience growth, you need a community engagement partner that can help you to optimize engagement and value exchange moments you have with your community. 

That means your partner should work alongside you to provide strategic recommendations that directly enhance your business and offer regular workshops, quarterly business reviews (QBRs), technical walkthroughs, and moderation sessions to collaborate with you to fine-tune your product roadmap. 

This article will examine the difference between a vendor and a partner, and the strategic advantages the latter can bring. 

The key difference between a vendor and partner

When it comes to building your audience, the key difference is that a vendor isn’t directly invested in your business success and merely plays a passive role serving you as a customer, whereas a partner takes an active role in helping to enhance your organization so that your audience can grow.

Unfortunately, most software vendors in this space employ a revenue share model, where they will put ad placements across a digital property and then offer a payout. 

The problem with this approach is that it pigeonholes you in terms of how you’re viewed as a partner. Many vendors will treat you as a commercial deal and focus more on commercial ROI, relying on how many ad placements you’re running and your overall viewability.

Revenue share can help you increase revenue over the short-term, but does so at the cost of tying your business into a commercial model and hampering your decision-making so that you don’t have access to the collaboration you need to build an effective long-term audience growth strategy. 

A true partner addresses the limitations of the revenue share model by also offering a SaaS payment model you can use to develop an ongoing partnership with a trusted party, whose core business strategy is about helping you drive registrations and acquire unique data you’ve never seen before.

How can a partner impact sustainable audience growth?

A growth-oriented partner can significantly increase your sustainable audience growth by clearly defining organizational Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). 

These OKRs enable you to set realistic and attainable performance targets to meet, such as doubling conversation rates, subscription rates, or unique visitors across digital properties. 

It’s a methodology that isn’t focused on product delivery but instead on how the deployed solutions impact the customer’s business outcomes. The goal isn’t just to sell a product but also to implement it and to help the organization leverage that technology to grow long-term. 

One of the benefits of working with a partner is that you can gain access to valuable growth insights you might miss. For instance, they might recommend that you use push notifications on your site to increase click-through rates by up to 27.6%. 

It’s worth noting that a partner also helps to support you through the post-implementation process, providing continuous care and support even after the initial deployment of the solution to ensure that you’re in a position to generate consistent returns.

Partners shaking hands

How to know if your vendor isn’t a partner

One of the main signs that your vendor isn’t a partner is if you don’t have a single point of contact for your account. If there’s a waterfall between you and the vendor, then you can’t have an effective two-way dialogue on how to improve your value exchange. 

A true partner would review progress periodically with key stakeholders in your organization, every three to six months, depending on your needs to ensure you’re on target to meet your enterprise’s goals. 

They would also be willing to answer any questions that you have promptly and provide you with ample opportunities to share your feedback on the overall effectiveness of the service. 

You should also watch out to see if your vendor is focusing on celebrating wins rather than recommending potential improvements you could make to enhance your business continuously. 

Avoid vendors, seek out partners

A true software partner doesn’t just help with implementation and onboarding; they customize the solution to fit your long-term needs and are there for you every step of the way. 

If you and your partner aren’t strategically aligned with your mission and vision, then it’s going to be an uphill battle to achieve your business goals. So if you want the best opportunity for success in 2022, avoid working with vendors and seek out a trusted partner instead. 

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.

5 ways engagement solutions can improve the quality of the conversations your audience is having

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.

Hands on laptop keyboard.

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.

When you know more about your audience, you pave the way for growth

The more you understand your users, the more opportunity you have to grow your community of followers. And the more you grow your community, the more your business can ultimately generate revenue and brand awareness. But without first-party data about your audience, you’re working from an incomplete picture. 

To grow, media brands need to know the profile of their users, their preferences and their behaviours. It won’t just help you improve and personalize your content lineup; obtaining rich first-party data also empowers you to supply advertisers with the crucial targeted audience segments they want.

Building engagement to gain data

Our research has found that engagement leads to loyalty because it creates experiences users will stick around for. The longer they stick around, the more likely they are to register, which will give you access to their real-time data. 

So what types of engaging experiences can you provide your users? We’ve identified six Viafoura solutions that can help your content convert users from unknown to known, including: moderated conversations, or safe spaces for registered users to discuss content; follow buttons; live chats around a topic, event or video; social share bars; trending conversations; and live blogs, or real-time interactive content posts.

For example, Viafoura’s personalized newsfeeds are onsite feeds similar to a Facebook feed, aggregating all the interactions that are relevant to a user, including what and who they follow. Our data has found that they generate 3.15 more page views per month among both anonymous and registered users.

How data helps your content strategy

With 64% of consumers willing to give up their data for relevant services, personalization is your key to giving readers what they want. When your newsroom has access to your audience’s data insights, they become empowered to create a personalized experience for the user, which is increases audience retention. 

They can do this by extracting audience insights from Viafoura’s engagement solutions. One example is Viafoura’s Community Chat, which allows media companies to host real-time chats around popular content.

“With (Viafoura’s) Community Chat, we’re delivering more value to the fans, while also increasing engagement by 150%,” says Kristian Walsh, head of sports audience engagement strategy at Reach PLC.

So what kind of behaviour and preferences can you track from users, and what can that tell you about them? For starters, look at what types of content are driving people to engage. What are the topics and themes that are capturing interest? Who are the writers of this content? You can then rank an article’s performance based on clicks and audience segments to help determine the topics your readers are most interested in. 

By understanding who their readers are, what they’re interested in and how they express that interest, newsrooms can align on a high-conversion content strategy based on a strong relationship with their audience. 

Stock market information data

How data incentivizes your advertisers

That rich audience data allows you to understand your audience more intimately, but it also better equips you to provide targeted audience segments for advertisers. Advertisers today are looking beyond clicks, and are seeking metrics like time-spent, return visits and number of page views: all signs of an engaged audience. So the more you know about your own audience, the more appealing you can make your site to advertisers.

“Viafoura gives us access to valuable engagement data that helps drive business decisions,” says Philippa Jenkins, the head of registered audience at The Independent. “We know what content topics and formats are resonating most with our users, so we can deliver more of what they want.” 

User registrations, direct newsletter sign-ups and a view into audience interactions allow you to understand your users at the engagement level, to inform your sales team, and paint a better picture for advertisers. 

In fact, the New York Times is capitalizing on its first-party data, having found that digital ads that used its first-party data accounted for 20% of its core ad revenue, up from 7% the year before. Ad Exchanger reported that subscriptions also soared during the same period, hitting 5.1 million digital news subscribers and 1.6 million subscribers for other products. 

Brands that glean actionable insights on their data will be much better positioned to deliver the goods that advertisers want, in an age where advertisers have become much more savvy in the data they demand.

4 on-site experiences and engagement tactics you can use to gather data on your audience

Getting to know your audience is a long-term process. If you want to know what makes them tick, you need to convert anonymous users into known users before you can start gathering first-party data to better understand their needs. 

Converting unknown to known is the key to driving your entire business forward and helping you reclaim your audience from social media. One of the easiest ways to do this is by engaging your community and creating a space that people want to participate in. 

Using community engagement solutions creates added value for unknown users, who can then subscribe and start their relationship with you. 

Once you’ve converted unknown to known, there are some core tools you can use to help better understand your user’s behaviour, preferences, and tendencies so you know how to create a more relevant and engaging on-site experience. 

Below, we’re going to look at four experiences and engagement solutions you can use to gather data on your audience.

1. A gated comments section

The first step of converting users from unknown to known is to gate your comment section so that only subscribed users can participate in the conversation and communicate with other users. 

14% of Americans comment on the news, so providing a gated comments section provides these users with a strong incentive to register so they can engage in conversations with other users on your site about the topics that interest them. 

This incentive is critical not just for getting them to start actively participating in your community, but also to start gathering first-party data on their preferences. This data can tell you not only what type of content they engage with the most, but their sentiments on particular topics that you can use to guide future content creation.

2. Live content

One way to better understand your user’s behaviour is to host live content. Live content like Ask Me Anything sessions (AMA), Q&As, and live blogs allow you to cover live events and curate stories in real-time while giving your audience a valuable opportunity to interact with your journalists or experts. 

Having the opportunity to ask questions is something that many users are crying out for, with 60.9% of commenters or comment readers saying they would like it if journalists clarified factual questions in news comment sections, while 58.7% say they would like it if experts on the topic of the article responded to comments in news comment sections. 

One way to use live content was illustrated by UK news publisher Reach PLC, which offered a live chat section mid-article on sports-related articles relating to team signings and other topics that gave fans a space to come together and discuss the news cycle. 

These interactions are valuable because you can gather quantitative feedback on the types of content they’re interested in. If there’s lots of discussion about a sports team signing new players, then you could focus on covering some of the smaller news stories around the new players to see what effect that has on engagement.

Business analytics on tablet computer

3. Audience analytics

When it comes to developing more sophisticated insights into your users, audience analytics is perhaps the most useful. A community engagement tool that provides analytics can extract behaviour signals to identify new types of subscribers who are likely to register, so you can develop content to help optimize those conversions. 

Audience analytics are an important resource because they helps you to better understand the first-party data collected from your users, so you develop more perspective into their preferences that go well beyond age and demographics, and into more granular segments. 

It’s important to note that the longer you use audience analytics, the richer the insights into their preferences. Collecting that initial first-party data and analyzing it long-term can help you see your audience from a new angle.

4. Personalized newsfeeds

If your content isn’t relevant to your users, then it’s unlikely to interest them. So if you want to optimize engagement, then you need to provide your audience with relevant content recommendations. 

Using an AI-powered community engagement platform to develop personalized newsfeeds makes it easy to gather data on your audience because you can identify what types of content a user interacts with the most, their opinions on it, and how they react to particular topics or journalists. 

For instance, if a user reads everything written by one of your writers about NFL-related news, you can route new articles straight to their feed, so they can find their content immediately without having to waste time searching the site.

Building your relationship with your audience is the key to growth

A media company’s growth is directly tied to its relationship with its audience. The closer you are to your audience, the greater the value you can offer not just to your users but also to your advertisers. 

The moment an unknown user decides to subscribe to your site and becomes a registered user, the data you can collect about them and their preferences become much richer and more valuable, both to your organization and potential advertisers.

The top 5 reasons people don’t participate in a news brand’s comments section, and how to change their minds

Building an active user community goes far beyond adding a comments section to your site. If you want your audience to participate in the conversation, you need a strategy to attract and nurture unregistered users.

Part of that strategy involves enticing users to engage with interactive, personalized content and recommendations, and the other involves lowering the barriers to entry and making your community more accessible to your audience. 

Below we’re going to look at the top 5 reasons people don’t participate in communities around news brands, and what tools you can use to create a civil and thriving community.

1. They don’t want to be the first to comment

If you’re trying to establish a new user community, your comments section won’t have many, if any, commenters. At the same time, your users might be hesitant to be the first to comment on a post. 

You can address this challenge quite easily by encouraging authors to pin comments inviting users to participate in the conversation in the comments section. 

For instance, an author can post the first comment on an article requesting open and honest feedback and pin it to the top. This approach sets the tone and welcomes users to leave their opinions.

2. They’re put off by toxic comments

Toxicity is one of the main reasons why some people don’t take part in online communities. No one enjoys being abused or harassed, and without proactive moderation, even a civil conversation can devolve into chaos. 

The prevalence of online toxicity, particularly on social media, was highlighted just a few months ago when CBC announced that it was closing Facebook comments on news posts due to “an inordinate amount of hate, abuse, misogyny and threats.” 

Using a community engagement tool with AI-driven moderation capabilities is critical for automatically taking down negative comments and creating a safe space for users to post and engage in civil discussions free of harassment and abuse.

Four adults looking at something on a tablet.

3. Your content isn’t relevant or engaging

In many cases, users don’t interact with content because they find it dull or uninteresting. If your audience doesn’t find an article compelling or relevant to their interests, they’re unlikely to engage with it and comment. 

The only way to address this is to provide more relevant content and personalized recommendations. You can do this by prompting users to subscribe and gathering first-party data to segment your audience into cohorts with similar interests. You can then use this data to recommend content that’s more likely to engage them.

For instance, if a user is interested in cryptocurrency news on Bitcoin and Ethereum, a community engagement platform can understand these interests and notify them whenever a writer releases a new article on a relevant topic or if a commenter they follow comments on the article.

4. They don’t have a reason to comment

Sometimes even if a piece of content is interesting, users won’t participate in the comments section or the community surrounding it because there’s no incentive or reason to leave a comment. 

Using interactive content like live blogs, Q&As, and Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions can help you provide the audience with a reason to comment by granting them an opportunity to engage with gated individuals like journalists, subject matter experts, and other well-known figures to increase not just registrations, but also time-on-page. 

The Independent used live content to great success during the pandemic by doing a live Q&A with a travel expert on the UK’s COVID-related restrictions. Likewise, MPR used a live blog to offer real-time coverage of the Kimberly Potter trial, with a comments section for users.

5. They don’t know you have a user community

Users won’t join a community if they don’t know it exists. While adding a comments section is a crucial step in creating a user community, your audience isn’t going to use it if they don’t know it’s there.

Announcing the launch of your user community on your site with a blog is essential for making your audience aware that they have a chance to communicate with other individuals. 

Many media organizations have used this strategy to kick-start their user community growth. For example, Xtra Magazine announced the launch of the Xtra Community through a blog post, as did, which released an announcement to promote the launch of a new commenting platform.

Make your comments section safe and relevant

To encourage users to participate in your community, the most important thing is to make sure that you’re offering your audience the opportunity to consume and engage with relevant content in a safe environment.

Using a community engagement tool with moderation capabilities gives you the best of both worlds. You can gather first-party data on users’ preferences to inform future content creation, while also using AI moderation to automatically remove abusive comments and create a safe space.

How to reclaim your audience from social media and build an engaged community on your owned and operated site

Your audience is a core part of your brand, so when you completely outsource your community to a third-party social media platform, you’re letting big tech take control of your relationship with your audience, you’re also losing access to valuable first-party data you can leverage to better understand their preferences.

However, it’s important to note that media organizations don’t need to get off social media completely. With 4.5 billion social media users around the world, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer widespread opportunities for user acquisition. The key is to have a strategy to reclaim website traffic from social media. 

In this article, we’re going to look at the top three reasons you need to reclaim your audience from social media and how you can build a nurtured and engaged community on your owned and operated sites.

3 reasons to reclaim your audience from social media

When building your audience or your following online, there are three main reasons you should always prioritize engaging your audience on your owned and operated sites over third-party social media platforms. These are as follows:

1. Building a direct relationship with your audience

If all your interactions with your audience take place on social media, you’re implicitly relying on a third party to determine how you can engage with your followers, and you’re making yourself vulnerable to policy changes that impact your community. 

For instance, if your media organization has a Facebook page, Facebook can decide that your content violates its community guidelines and take the page down. Or, if Facebook suddenly changes its algorithm, your community can disappear overnight, wasting all the time you’ve invested into building that audience.  

Making sure that most direct interactions with your audience take place on your site gives you more control over the conversation. It also ensures that your content isn’t subject to abstract community guidelines and social media moderation standards, so you can interact with your audience however you see fit.

2. Get to know your audience with first-party data

Publishers that rely on social media traffic to build their audience not only find themselves beholden to third-party policies but also lose the ability to collect first-party data. If users don’t visit your site, it’s difficult to gather data that could otherwise provide you with insights into their preferences.  

While social media platforms like Twitter offer analytics solutions, these are generalist solutions that won’t necessarily be tailored to generate the insights into your audience that you need to compete against other media organizations and publishers. 

Directing users to your site and collecting first-party data from subscribed members of the audience can help you generate insights into your audience’s preferences, while developing more relevant content and forming a closer relationship with your community over time.

3. Ensuring a civil community

Another challenge is relying on social media companies to moderate conversations, which they don’t do very well, as illustrated during Euro 2020 when England’s soccer team received over 2,000 abusive messages on Twitter. 

If one of your journalists gets harassed on a website like Twitter with death threats, racist attacks, or harassment, you have to report the incidents and then wait for the site to investigate and take action. 

On the other hand, if you move the conversation to your site, you can use an AI-driven community engagement solution to automatically moderate comments according to a customized moderation policy. That means if someone tries to leave a hateful comment, you can instantly block it so it doesn’t negatively impact the experience of other users.

Magnet attracting metal marbles to demonstrate attracting an audience.

How to support user retention and registration once they’re on your site

Once you get your audience from social media onto your site, there are a number of strategies you can use to maximize user retention and registration to ensure they engage with your brand.

1. Incentivize unsubscribed users to register

The best way to support user registration on your site is to provide visitors with an incentive to register. An incentive can be as simple as a gated comment section or user community, which they have to sign up for if they want to leave comments and interact with other users, or a newsletter providing valuable content not available on your surface site.

2. Start collecting first-party data

Once users have registered, you can start to collect first-party data about their preferences and sentiments, which you can use to develop propensity models and better understand the type of content they want to see.

3. Use AI-Driven moderation

Finally, you can help to retain users on your site by keeping the conversation civil with a proactive moderation policy. Rooting out harassment, racism, and spam is critical for making sure that users can have productive and engaging conversations on your site, without being overwhelmed with toxicity or junk content. 

Use social media for acquisitions, not engagement

Building a following on your owned and operated sites and social media aren’t mutually exclusive. Social media traffic is great for user acquisition and for driving referrals, but you should always be looking to drive users to your owned and operated sites so you can have a deeper interaction and establish a long-term relationship with them.

Exit mobile version