Why media companies need to act as community hubs in times of crisis

When a global emergency strikes, panic, dread and hopelessness can quickly settle in throughout the world, worsening the quality of life for entire populations. And lately, it seems as though people have had to face one never-ending crisis after another.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs forecasts that 274 million people will need humanitarian aid and protection in 2022 alone.

What many media companies don’t realize is that they have the power to help some of these people in times of crisis. In fact, media companies can offer significant support to populations simply by acting as online hubs for communities to gather during an emergency or tragedy.

Why the importance of community intensifies during a crisis

During stable times, online communities bring like-minded people together, encouraging meaningful connections to form between active members, which grows loyalty toward the host brand.

Meanwhile, the value of hosting a safe online community in a crisis goes far beyond growing brand loyalty — giving audiences access to a tight-knit community can reverse declining mental health and support them in their time of need.

“[If] community members let their feelings of fear, anxiety, confusion, and dread grow unchecked during a crisis, they will most likely begin to feel hopeless or helpless… [causing them to] be less motivated and less able to take actions that could help themselves,” writes the CDC in a crisis and emergency risk communication manual. “Helping the public feel empowered and in control of at least some parts of their lives may… reduce fear.”

So by providing people with a safe space to join an active community, your organization can allow people to feel more in control and confident during a chaotic period. Here’s why:

Offering stability in a world of constant change

From global warming disasters to the war in Ukraine, economic, social and ecological conditions worldwide are unstable.

Online communities encourage members to check in on their conversations regularly, giving people a sense of routine or stability.

“Routines can create a positive level of stress that keeps us focused and may avoid some of the depression that many people may experience as a result of… isolation, fear and uncertainty,” explains Ramon Solhkhah, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

Ultimately, chatting with fellow community members frequently can help to give life meaning, make people feel more productive and improve mental health in a time of uncertainty and fear. Any media company can deliver this type of experience to audiences simply by giving people access to safe community social spaces.

Shaping safe online spaces for sharing thoughts and opinions

Media organizations that give people safe digital spaces to meet and talk empower users to share their voices, thoughts and opinions around whatever crisis is at hand. This can help spark social change and heal traumatized or struggling community members.

According to a series of researchers around the world, “[online] communities (OCs) offer the ground for breeding activism as they provide opportunities for individuals who regardless of their location voluntarily form a social aggregation through an online platform for sharing interests, knowledge and experiences.”

Unfortunately, thanks to the rise of trolls and misinformation, social media platforms don’t guarantee safe conditions for these positive, shared social experiences. After all, over 25% of people will avoid joining a discussion if toxicity is present.

Connecting people to a source of reliable information

Between political extremists and Russian troll farms publishing propaganda across the web, it can be challenging for humans to determine fact from fiction in a crisis. At least it is without a reliable news source.

And with 56% of Americans concerned that journalists consciously publish misinformation or exaggerations, publishers must work to connect people to accurate content.

One major benefit of hosting an online community on a media company’s website or app is that its credible content becomes central to that community. More specifically, audience members will gradually form connections around accurate information — which can save lives by keeping people informed throughout a crisis.

Plus, community hubs allow people to discuss and debate the true actions of governments and come up with potential solutions to global emergencies or challenges.

It’s only natural to want to assist others in an emergency — and by bringing people together online, your media company can give people an outlet for support during challenging times. Not only will this enable you to deliver essential information to loyal audiences, but it will also show them that they aren’t alone, reinforcing their resilience in the face of any crisis.

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.

Are you unlocking the hidden value of your anonymous users?

If your media company’s monetizing its audience in any way or form, odds are, your registered users and subscribers are your biggest money-makers. Even so, the largest portion of your audience is probably made up of unknown readers who aren’t contributing much to your overall reader revenue growth.

According to recent data from Viafoura, a shocking 99.6% of publisher unsubscribed audiences, on average, are anonymous visitors. While most of these visitors are passive readers who are less committed to a company’s content than known audience members, you can still get tremendous value from them.

In reality, your anonymous audience is far from useless — it’s an untapped goldmine of information and revenue just waiting to be activated. But before you can extract the full value of your unknown visitors, you need to know exactly why and how they can become loyal and lucrative audience members.

Why publishers are prioritizing anonymous to known audience conversions

Naturally, known audience members give your organization far more data and monetization opportunities than your anonymous visitors.

Rather than waiting for registered users to appear magically, successful publishers have recognized that the key to financial success is to actively nurture their anonymous audiences and encourage them to log in. After all, each of your registered and subscribed audience members first started off as unknown visitors.

Greg Piechota, Researcher-in-Residence at the International News Media Association (INMA), explains that “[we] see reader and ad revenue strategies converging as publishers refocus on registering and logging users.”

Keep in mind that almost every anonymous user can become effectively monetized once they become registered.

Viafoura data also reveals that engaged registered users offer publishers five times more return visits than non-registered users.

Ultimately, converting your anonymous visitors to known users online is an essential step on the road to building audience loyalty and growing your company’s revenue streams.

Registration as a means to improving content performance

You can begin piecing together your users’ profiles as soon as they create profiles on your website or app. The more they interact with your content and fellow users, the more you’ll understand who they are, their needs and the types of content topics and writers they favour.

This valuable data can be harnessed to segment your users into different groups with similar interests, which can then be targeted with relevant content — including advertisements.

Of course, content that aligns more with your users’ interests is more likely to draw their attention, keeping them engaged on your website or app for longer.

“Once you understand your target audience’s needs, you can develop personalized content that addresses their biggest concerns and pain points,” outlines Gartner. “But timing is everything.”

To make the biggest impact on your audience and win over their loyalty, your media company must serve its users the content they want when they crave it, even as their needs and interests change. While you can’t get this information from unknown visitors, you can extract it through the data and comments of your known users.

Turning anonymous users into engaged subscribers

Giving anonymous users the chance to log in to your website is not only key to getting their data, but it can also make your anonymous users become dedicated to your company. The reality is that once you get your anonymous visitors to register, you’re halfway there to getting them to subscribe.

In fact, Viafoura data reveals that registered users are significantly more engaged than their unregistered counterparts, spending an average of 15 times more time on-site after registering. And all that extra time your registered users spend on your company’s website means they have more opportunities to connect with your company’s content and other users.

“News brands that see more known users see more subscribers, and brands that see longer session duration see lower rates of churn,” states Piechota. “[Research prooves that you] get one subscriber for every 10 registrations.”

The Telegraph recently shared that its audience growth goal is framed around this research. More specifically, the company is aiming fo 10 million registered users and one million subscribers as of 2023.

This reinforces the fact that you can unlock significant value — including engagement and subscription revenue — from a large portion of your anonymous audience simply by getting them to register.

So if the majority of your company’s audience is anonymous, what’s stopping you from encouraging that massive group of people to become registered, known and returning users? From there, you can use their available data and growing loyalty to your advantage, further enhancing your organization’s engagement, content, subscription and ad revenue strategies.

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.

Mastering Live Blogs: Strategies That Drive Positive Results


  • With the right features and applications, live blogs can help publishers enhance their content strategies. 
  • ClickOnDetroit created a Vaccine Hunter live blog that generated a significant amount of engagement: 50,000 views, over four million impressions and positive user feedback.
  • The Baltimore Sun’s live sports blog pulled Tweets in from several staff members to attract digital visitors to its site. 
  • The National Post provided a safe, trusted place to share important election information through various post formats.
  • The Morning Call’s COVID-19 blog featured short updates, which pointed to longer in-depth articles.
  • The Online News Association hosted a live blog to share key event takeaways for attendees. 

Viafoura’s live blog tools trigger increased content consumption, audience satisfaction and brand loyalty.

What kind of content experience will keep consumers informed and engaged online? That’s the million-dollar question that practically every publisher struggles with. 

Luckily, media companies have begun to notice that the live blog format can be a dependable way to share critical content and maximize the time audiences spend on publisher properties.

[2020] reminded publishers how valuable live news, updates and analysis can be to readers,” writes Digiday Senior Editor Max Willens. “The relentless bombardment of big stories gave publishers a fresh chance every month to break down what was going on for readers in areas ranging from public health to politics to sports to business.”

There’s no doubt that live blogs are loaded with perks. You just need to figure out what kind of live blog works best for your organization — and how your editorial team can implement it successfully. 

Get some inspiration to enhance your company’s content strategy by checking out some effective live blogs below.

ClickOnDetroit’s Vaccine Hunter Live Blog

When Ken Haddad, a digital content manager for a ClickOnDetroit, realized that thousands of people couldn’t find vaccine appointments, he launched a live blog to help. 

Haddad’s Vaccine Hunter-style live blog acted as a single place people could turn to in Michigan for critical vaccine updates and appointment openings. 

In addition, essential information was pinned to the top of the live blog to ensure that it stood out to page visitors. 

Haddad’s posts also engaged visitors by allowing audience members to upvote, downvote and share updates across platforms to their networks of friends and family.   

Since the project’s inception, ClickOnDetroit’s live blog has earned an incredible amount of attention, including over 150,000 views, four million impressions to Haddad’s Twitter account and positive visitor feedback.

The Baltimore Sun’s Live Sports Blog

Many journalists already Tweet regularly to keep their followers updated as newsworthy events and sports games unfold. So why not move that content away from the misinformation and social media trolls and ingest it right onto your company’s digital properties?

That’s precisely what The Baltimore Sun did. 

To give audience members real-time commentary and updates on a major football game in early 2021, The Baltimore Sun pulled in Tweets from several staffers into its live blog

As a result, the media company was able to attract and engage sports fans right on its website in return for ongoing, accurate recaps and content on the game.

National Post’s Election Live Blog

No national election is complete without an overwhelming amount of information and aggressive opinions on social media. And since 80% of people will turn away from news coverage near toxic content, posting live election updates on social media is counterproductive for any media company hoping to build a reputation as a trusted resource. 

For these reasons, the National Post ran a live blog to provide audiences with a reliable, safe space to follow the 2019 Canadian election.

The National Post also used Viafoura’s live blogging tool during the election, which gave them the ability to cover the event thoroughly using a combination of updates, social media posts and images.

The Morning Call’s COVID-19 Live Blog

In the spring of 2020, The Morning Call launched a live blog to help Pennsylvanians monitor COVID-19 and related restrictions in their region.

The media company cleverly used the live blog as a way to push readers to longer content pieces. This meant that writers didn’t need to continuously recap old information in new content since all background information could be accessed on the live blog. Plus, they could keep their updates concise, highlighting only vital information. 

The short updates, which can touch on a story from several different perspectives or angles, gives readers a good snapshot of a publisher’s breadth of coverage,” Willens explains.

ONA’s Live Event Blog

With many businesses hosting events to grow revenue or audiences, there’s a tremendous opportunity to engage people before, during and after these events online. And some organizations are now seeing the live blog as an appealing tool to build audience interest around their events.

The Online News Association (ONA), for instance, decided to leverage Viafoura’s live blog to engage attendees during ONA NYC, an event for media professionals. 

ONA published noteworthy takeaways from ONA NYC, offering attendees one place to return to for essential highlights and information. 

With the support of live blogs, publishers can satisfy audiences, boost content consumption, and encourage visitors to spend more time viewing and relying on their coverage. 

If you’re interested in learning about Viafoura’s live blogging tool, you can access a complete list of its features here.

Where Consumer Loyalties Currently Lie in the Media Industry

Since the inception of digital media, building consumer loyalty has been important for brands everywhere. But as reader revenue becomes the key to sustaining media companies, industry professionals must now decipher what kinds of experiences and content truly matter to audience members.

Bonnie Kintzer, CEO of Trusted Media Brands, explains that “we are living in the experience economy, and consumers — especially millennials — are willing to pay for products or experiences that have value.”

So what kinds of experiences with the media are people willing to stick around for?

You can unravel some of the most effective tactics that media brands are using right now to drive consumer loyalty. That way, you’ll be able to enhance your company’s existing strategy to attract audience members and retain them in the future.

Online Features That Enable Social Interactions

Humans need a social outlet. And since physical distancing continues to be so critical to our safety, consumers depend on opportunities to interact with others online to fill the void. 

Brands have an opportunity here to offer solutions that foster social interaction online to combat the increased levels of depression and anxiety that Gen Z has reported experiencing as a result of home isolation,” says Nick Gardner, who runs a podcast on Gen Z. 

This doesn’t just apply to younger audiences, though. 

From live conversation and chat tools to interactive games, people from all walks of life want the chance to engage with one another and form meaningful connections that they can nurture every time they return.

Explainer-Style News Stories

As the pandemic continues to run its course, consumers still have a lot of unanswered questions. Both Emily Oster, who launched a newsletter focused completely on COVID-19, and BBC News have noticed that people are craving explainer-type content to get more details on the virus… especially now that worldwide lockdowns are going into their second wave.

“The questions we are getting are much more about people’s everyday lives (amid the outbreak) and by capturing those, we can respond in a way that actually meets their needs, rather than us coming up with the most generally important content.” explains a senior software engineer at BBC News Labs. 

At the end of the day, media companies are seeing a spike in interest for in-depth coverage that’s relatable and understandable.

Video-Streaming Platforms

The popularity of video-viewing platforms has been climbing well before the pandemic ever hit. Now, Industry experts are realizing that consumers favor on-demand streaming platforms over regular cable or satellite TV. 

And this has only been accelerated by the pandemic as consumers look to fill the extra time they have at home. 

With the breadth of streaming services available — both free and via subscription — consumers will look to build their own smorgasbords of content to suit their appetite, funding this from their current TV costs,” Forrester’s Principal Analyst Jim Nail states

As media companies like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video continue to engage consumers through top-notch video-viewing experiences, users are encouraged to return to their platforms over and over again.

Hobbyist Content

While the news is essential to keeping individuals informed and safe, there’s a clear desire for content that distracts from the doom and gloom of the pandemic right now. 

That’s why media companies are seeing a huge amount of consumer interest in content that targets particular at-home hobbies. 

“Publishers who can capitalize on this surge in attention and build loyalty now will be in a strong position to maintain this engagement as we settle into the much anticipated ‘new normal,” reads an article published by the Digital Content Next media organization.

Businesses That Communicate the Need for Consumer Support

Media companies that clearly state the value of their subscription programs and why they need financial support are striking a chord with consumers. 

Publishers like BuzzFeed News, The Guardian, The Daily Beast and  Portland Press Herald have all been direct with readers about their need for consumer-based revenue, and are seeing a major boost in support.

This strategy is helping consumers recognize that they rely on trusted news sources regularly and must actively support quality journalism so they can continue to rely on these companies in the future. 

Your business’ ability to build consumer loyalty is ultimately a never-ending journey. So be sure to constantly test out new ways to improve the experience with your brand and secure loyal community members in the future.

Are You Prepared for the End of Gigya Comments?

Gigya Comments Deprecate on January 31st, 2021

In case you haven’t heard yet, Gigya — an identity management software company acquired by SAP — is currently in the process of shutting down several of its engagement tools, including its commenting services.

Customers that rely on Gigya Comments to build an engaged community of loyal visitors now have until the end of January 31st, 2021 to transition away from Gigya’s social engagement tools.

The full list of tools and features that will be inaccessible come January 31st include: 

If you’re currently a customer at Gigya and are struggling to make sense of the upcoming changes, we’ve broken down the main takeaways based on Gigya’s announcement for you below.

The Impact on Gigya Customers

Starting December 2020, Gigya Comments along with the other social tools mentioned above will begin to shut off, leaving customers without their engagement tools. 

To continue building highly engaged and loyal communities, organizations will need to move to a new community-building service provider. 

This means that existing Gigya customers hoping to keep their online social spaces active must begin preparing now for the migration. User data and comment history will need to be exported and backed up over the next few weeks while access to this information lasts.

Accessing Your Data

All back-end access and support for Gigya Comments and other social engagement features will stop as of January 31st, 2020. Any user data, comment history and existing moderation information stored by Gigya must be manually extracted and saved by customers before that date.

Your user engagement data is full of precious, actionable information, so be sure to collect it while it’s still possible to do so.

You can access a complete checklist that will help prepare your organization for a smooth transition away from Gigya Comments here.

Embracing These Changes

Although the loss of Gigya Comments may seem like a setback to your business, you can use this challenge as an opportunity to select a reliable audience engagement platform.

By continuing to invest in community engagement, you can elevate your visitor’s online experience, strengthen relationships with your users and increase the amount of time they spend on your website or app. 

That’s why it’s vital for you to choose the right engagement tool provider as you transition away from Gigya Comments. 

At Viafoura, customers can rely on our real-time conversations and discussion-based tools to collect first-party audience data, keep their brands safe and better build and monetize their communities. Our automatic moderation system also handles up to 95% of comments without human intervention and makes decisions according to your community guidelines all to ensure that your online communities flourish.

Get in touch with us here to find out how Viafoura can help you transition away from Gigya with ease.

Four Reasons Why Consumers Will Pay for a Media Subscription

Subscriptions are, without a doubt, helping to sustain the media industry. As the number of people willing to pay for subscriptions grows, this revenue stream is becoming essential for any media company hoping to survive.

Purse strings may be tight, but sustained growth in subscriptions [is] up by 19% year-on-year,” explains Dan Ison, a consulting partner at Deloitte.  

This means that media companies are witnessing an increasing level of willingness among people to invest in top-quality content and experiences.

And a wealth of information that could help you maximize subscription sales is within your reach. Prepare to find out precisely what makes consumers want to hand over some cash in exchange for a media subscription.

Meaningful Connections

Take a moment to ask yourself a simple question: Would you pay for something you don’t feel connected to? Odds are, you probably wouldn’t.

You can bet that your company’s online visitors will say the same thing: they aren’t going to pay for a subscription if they don’t feel connected to your brand. 

Rob Tornoe, a columnist and cartoonist for Editor and Publisher, notes that successful membership projects are powered by “an editorial mindset that values a strong relationship with readers.” 

But a relationship is a two-way street. In other words, both parties need to participate for it to become meaningful enough to invest time and energy into it. 

Of course, strong relationships can’t be formed with a middleman blocking you from your potential subscribers. Media companies must take back control of their audiences by establishing social connections on their own websites and apps, away from the trolls, misinformation and inaccessible user data on social media.

Once you show your audience members that they can nurture a connection with or around your company in a safe space, your organization will start to matter to them and so will your subscription fee.

Supportive Resources

When people visit a media company’s website or app, they’re often looking to be supported with relevant information, entertainment or social engagement. 

If you can prove to visitors that your organization offers a reliable, trusted source of support, you’ll boost your chances of earning their loyalty as subscribers. 

“[People] trust your [organization] to solve their problem, or achieve their goal, forever,” says Robbie Kellman Baxter, a business strategy consultant. “They take off their ‘consumer hat’, don a ‘member hat’ and stop considering alternatives.”

Being Understood

Humans are naturally driven by habit, meaning that we all demonstrate similar behaviors over and over again. In the digital world, the unique needs and desires of internet users are made visible by these distinct behaviors through first-party data. 

Quartz President Katie Weber states that for companies to achieve subscription growth, they must “focus on really, deeply understanding the audience, what their needs are and where they might be underserved by other publications.” 

Organizations can gain insight into each user’s behavior and habits simply by tapping into their user data. Companies that then take the time to provide personalized experiences for their visitors can strengthen overall interest in their digital offerings. As a result, visitors will be more engaged and attentive to a subscription package.

Gaining Access to Exclusive Experiences

Recently, many media companies have seen significant subscriber growth directly tied to locking exclusive (a.k.a “premium”) experiences behind a paywall.

France-based news company Le Parisien has even doubled its paying members by reserving premium content for subscribers. Now, 90% of its subscriber base is generated through these exclusive articles, which draw on user data to maximize engagement.

Media companies can follow suit with high-converting subscriber experiences by reserving content, social tools, podcasts and events for paying subscribers. After all, interesting and relevant experiences are often worth paying a small price to access.

While people are more willing than ever before to pay for a subscription to a media company, there’s an unlimited number of competitors fighting for their attention. Not to mention that each person will only pay for a small number of media subscriptions.  

The only way to make your content and services stand out from the rest is to exceed your visitors’ expectations. Create meaningful relationships with audience members, support visitors and produce personalized and exclusive experiences to win over potential subscribers before they ever have a chance to spend their time and money elsewhere.

Four Addictive Ways Sports Companies and Teams Can Connect With Their Fanbases Online

Rather than filling up stadiums to cheer on their favorite players or teams, consumers are gradually becoming used to watching games from the comfort of their homes. As a result, a digital doorway has opened for sports organizations to forge deeper connections with fans.

We know for a fact that fans are hungrier than ever for engagement around sports. And it’s up to sports teams and companies to satisfy this desire remotely.

Embracing this challenge by connecting with fans online can produce a highly active community of known visitors loyal to their brands. 

“In my 30-plus-year career in sports, I’ve never seen a greater opportunity for brands to directly engage with fans where they live,” says John Tatum, chief executive of Genesco Sports Enterprises (GSE), a sports marketing consulting firm.  

Taking hold of this opportunity to grow your online communities of active, dedicated viewers is actually easier than you might think. Here are four simple engagement strategies that will keep your fans connected and addicted to your brand in the digital sports world:

Introduce Fans to Online Conversation Tools

In a survey conducted by GSE and market research company Harris Insights and Analytics, the majority of sports fans express an appetite for digital social experiences alongside sports content. 

Turning to social media to engage fans may seem like a quick solution for sports media companies and teams. Unfortunately, organizations have limited control over their audience’s data, relationships and toxic comments on third-party social platforms

A safer and more beneficial way to give sports fans the engagement they crave is to implement commenting tools directly on your website or app. That way, sports organizations can build direct, lucrative relationships with fans in a brand-safe environment.

Keep in mind that effective commenting services will adjust their moderation systems to support each organization’s unique community guidelines. You can then ensure your online social spaces allow for as much heated debating or respectful discussions as you want.

Feature Real-Time Chats Around Content Streams

People value sports for more than just the games and players themselves. 

“Sport, in the end, is about stories: watching them, telling them, being a part of them,” Eoin Connolly, a sports industry journalist, writes in a SportsPro article.

“In tech and entertainment terms, [sports companies] need to help fans participate in the content they are watching,” Connolly suggests.

For this reason, companies and teams may want to consider placing a real-time community chat tool beside live games, milestone announcements and matches. This will push consumers to participate in content and feel connected to fellow viewers and sports team members active in the chat.

Host Digital Events

Give your sports fans something to look forward to by hosting interactive events right on your digital properties. While online events can help facilitate general excitement around your company or team, they can also strengthen relationships between brands, players and top fans. 

Sports teams, for instance, could invite their most dedicated, engaged fans to attend digital meet-and-greets with their players. 

No matter what type of event you may choose to host, the important thing is that attendees have the ability to interact with one another around your brand or team. Make the most of the experience by maximizing engagement through interactive features before, during and after the event using tools like live blogs. 

There is a much higher aptitude for engaging in this virtual format,” states Condé Nast’s SVP of commercial marketing and events, Eric Johnson. “We should be building a business around virtual events because they’re here to stay.”

Provide Personalized Content Experiences

Another way to keep sports fans hooked on your sports content is to customize their experience with your brand using your first-party audience data. By highlighting material that each sports fan finds relevant and interesting, you’ll entice them to return to your digital property time and time again to view your content. 

The Los Angeles Chargers, an American football team, plans to build up its community one fan at a time through a customized approach. 

According to LA Chargers Chief Marketing Officer Steve Ziff, “we want [people] to fall in love with us because it feels right to them, not because we force ourselves into that equation.”

Ultimately, personalization can help convince consumers that your brand satisfies their unique content needs and is worth supporting.

Whether you’re part of a sports team or media company, engagement is key to forming stronger connections with fanbases online. Find the sports content and experiences that resonate with your audience to hold their attention and develop long-lasting relationships with them.

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