Viafoura Successfully Attains SOC 2 Type 2 Certification Following Completion of SOC Compliance Process

We’re thrilled to share an important milestone in our commitment to data security: the successful completion of our second annual SOC 2 Type 2 audit. This achievement not only reaffirms our dedication to safeguarding your data but also underscores our ongoing efforts to maintain the highest standards of security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.

While SOC 2 Type 1 provides a snapshot of our security measures at a specific moment, SOC 2 Type 2 goes further, assessing the effectiveness of these controls through our day-to-day operations. 

“Our completion of the annual SOC 2 Type 2 audit underscores our unwavering commitment to safeguarding our users’ data,” asserts Mark Zohar, President and CEO of Viafoura. “It’s about more than compliance; it’s about instilling confidence in our users that their information is protected with the utmost diligence.”

Thank you for entrusting Viafoura with your digital engagement needs.


The Viafoura Customer Experience Team.

Data Trailblazing: An Interview with Viafoura’s Director of Data and Analytics

With over a decade of experience in the realm of publishing at The Globe and Mail, Shengqing Wu, Director of Data and Analytics at Viafoura, is uniquely positioned to provide remarkable insights into the way data serves and supports the many moving parts of a news organization. Having witnessed first hand the evolution of a once print dominant industry as it shifted more and more into a digital landscape, Shengqing – a brilliant data analyst – is also equipped with the nuanced insights that only experience in the newsroom amongst editors and analysts alike can bring.

We sat down with Shenqing to chat about how publishers approach data vs how they should approach it, why simplifying data rears the most sophisticated insights, and what on earth is a generational audience funnel? 

Changes in data, publishing, and analytics at large

Shen, as we know, the world of data is in a perpetual state of growth. In some parts thanks to evolving technologies and learning capabilities, and also because of cultural shifts and the way consumers behave based on their lived experiences. So, in your experience over the years, what are some of the changes you’ve observed in the way data is acquired and utilized in publishing?

Obviously throughout the past many years, publishers have become much more sophisticated in terms of data, manipulational data strategies in general, and understanding their audiences. Really trying to study behavioural data from the business is the key. Now, this also ties into [the publisher’s] business model as well, right?


Ten years ago maybe 99% of media publishers relied on – if we’re talking about digital revenue, they’re relying on advertising – many publishers started to transform into subscription model. This model is where publishers gain access to audience behaviour. This kind of data, behavioural data, has become more important than ever because all publishers want their audiences to generate the habit of, for example, reading three times a week or more.

Which makes sense for any publication, but specifically for digital publishers, right? The more a reader visits the site, the more time they spend on its pages, which in turn means more data points. 

Those data signals are very valuable. That’s one of the things we help with at Viafoura, taking those data points and signals from things like comments, likes, Q&As, and applying machine learnings and natural language processes to get the advanced contextual information. 

And then that data becomes what, exactly?

Declarative data, which is something Viafoura provides. Basically, what people say, how they feel, what is their opinion… Through their data they’re directly telling us what they’re interested in by reading an article.

Analytics: Keeping it simple rears sophisticated results

As things continue to shift and change, the demise (though perpetually postponed) of cookies, new consumer behaviours, new technology that changes the way in which we consume our content and, and, and… The list goes on.

With that in mind, if I were a publisher staring at my digital experience platform’s (DXP) data analytics dashboard – are there key indicators you think I could keep tabs on to get a solid understanding of the health of my business? 

The basics. The very basics. Article consumption behaviour, total comments, things like that. We recommend going through these, but –

I had a feeling there was more to it..!

We believe in a user-focused or ‘segment focused’ approach. User segmentation will play a vital role and it’s a way to visualize the user segments that are helping the business, how they’re performing, and also being able to compare one segment to another.

What’s so helpful about being able to compare different audience segments? 

Let’s say you have one segment that’s excited about politics, and then another that’s more excited about celebrity news. So? Then what?  By being able to go into a dashboard and compare those two different segments in various ways, we can find behavioural patterns. 

How long does one segment typically spend reading, what are their shared interests, what are interests exclusive to the individual segments and so on. So, while the celebrity focused segment is more interested in shopping and the political leaning audience segment tends to enjoy reading about personal finance – there may be similarities that we find through comparison that become valuable behavioural insights. 

Okay, so by being able to compare the similarities and differences between two audience segments that land on the same site, a publisher could actually learn a great deal about what kind of content they could stand to use more or less of and perhaps retain multiple segments by customizing their experiences.


Got it. Earlier you had mentioned that there are the ‘basics’ of what to look for on an analytics dashboard; time on page, number of comments, time spent in the comments section, etc… Are there things that you’ve noticed get overlooked because perhaps they seem too obvious, but are in fact really valuable data signals that lead to richer insights?

Typically what we suggest is that

look at their different conversion metrics. We really aim to help our clients drive conversions of unknown users through their funnels down into other more valuable and helpful segments. Converting more users who don’t know the company into authenticated, registered users who have provided their e-mail. You can do so much more with those authenticated users. 

Sometimes we will use examples of these conversion metrics with new clients to show them just how valuable a more engaged user is to their data findings.

I see, so it’s by looking at conversion metrics as a KPI that you’re saying we’re able to discern exactly where and when content is achieving things that contribute to hitting audience growth OKRs or adding value to digital ad space. 

As an aside, for those following along with this conversation, these value exchange moments are the instances where users decide to offer their information in exchange for the experience being offered. They’re incredible sources of insights for not only informing content strategy, but also building community, making design changes, improving discoverability of the site itself, and so much more.

It’s about knowing users, right? Another thing to look for within these conversion metrics are to keep an eye on where these conversions occur in proximity to design choices, products and their features. For example, at Viafoura, we are able to work with our clients and definitively say ‘the engagement starter that we implemented has a conversion of XX%’.

Which means that with that data they can strengthen weaker points of conversion or learn from winning points of conversion! When the data makes sense, everything makes sense.

Are ‘generational funnels’ the new normal?

Before we wrap things up, there was one more thing we had hoped to pick your brain about; there seems to be a budding conversation in the industry around crafting multiple audience funnels for one publication or brand, which isn’t unheard of at this point, but more specifically the idea of crafting generational funnels. Meaning, funnels that aim to address the vastly different behaviours that we now see existing all at once in the same market. 

Gen Z doesn’t behave anywhere remotely like Boomers when it comes to news media content consumption – or consumption in general, it would seem – which makes the concept of multiple funnels make a lot of sense to me. For example, some publishers have opted to offer ‘piece by piece’ payment options for people who don’t want a subscription, just the content behind the paywall. This strategy is more Gen-Z focused as they tend to skew more subscription resistant and news avoidant, while Gen-X and Boomers still have a more traditional, habitual behavioural approach to content consumption – picture them reading the newspaper with a coffee as opposed to Gen-Z intentionally searching for content built around their interests. 

My question for you is: are you seeing a big change in consumer behaviours and, to that, an increase in interest from publishers in taking this funnel-diverse approach?

At the moment, not a lot, to be honest.

As I mentioned before, we prefer to take a segment focused approach – so this kind of thinking would fall under that. Using data to observe patterns, make connections, create segmented audience profiles in order to help clients. When we compare across different segments we’re able to discern these patterns and layer the data to reveal these kinds of indicators. So, what you were talking about –

Generational Funnels?

Yea, that is generally enough for us to make specific segments that consider age demographics and other data signals, but it’s not like ‘This Is Our Gen-Z Subscription Model’.

I see. I guess then it’s more relevant to look at the big-picture of the audience segment, with a bit of consideration given to age but more primarily to what all of the data tells us holistically.

Yes, but also – there are age specific patterns that are super important, they just might not define or merit a whole funnel all on their own.

Alright, so that’s a ‘stay tuned for more details’ when it comes to Generational Funnels! Thank You Shen. This has been an incredibly informative conversation and thank you for your time!

Of course. Any time!

Observe, analyze, learn, reiterate.

As time goes on, the world of data continues to shift and evolve. What’s important to remember is that data is, whether it’s the cookies that will soon be gone in 2024 or changes to site-to-site tracking, data is the language our audiences use to guide us to their loyalty and to help create meaningful content experiences for them. As long as we don’t lose sight of the humanity in the data, there is always going to be something to learn.

Loyalty Plays: The Next Era Of Retention

There’s an old saying in marketing that “it costs more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one.” Some studies have shown it can cost up to five times more to focus solely on customer acquisition at the disservice of customer retention.

Publishers who focus solely on registration and pumping out as much content as possible often neglect relationships with existing readers. By taking stock of current relationships and finding new ways to reward subscribed readers for brand loyalty, publishers are far more likely to improve customer retention rates.

Don’t devalue retention: it’s more profitable than you know

There’s money to be made in retention, even with a slight move of the needle in the right direction. According to a Harvard Business School study, improving customer retention rates by as little as 5% can improve profitability by 25%. In some cases, profits can rise up to 95%.

Those findings are similar to research conducted by Gartner, which determined that 80% of business profits come from 20% of existing customers. Additionally, the success rate of converting an existing reader into a paying subscriber ranges between a 60% to 70% success rate. Conversely, the success rate of converting a new reader into a subscriber ranges between 5% and 20%.

The bottom line is that there’s plenty of value to be found in reader retention. Publishers just need the right approach and the right resources to engage with existing readers to convert them into brand loyal subscribers.

Personalization fosters loyalty and retention

Communicating with your existing readers using personalized content experiences is the best way to earn reader loyalty. What and how you communicate with your readers makes all the difference between retaining their business and losing their interest.

For example, if you were to publish generic content week after week, it’s hard for readers to see the value in the experience. Instead, the audience sentiment will be that you’re just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. The content loses all of your brand’s personality that first resonated with readers, increasing the likelihood that they churn and never return to your site.

On the other hand, personalized content that appeals to specific reader interests is far more engaging to your audience. By demonstrating that your creative team understands their readers, and chooses to publish content that adds greater value to their experience with your website, you have a winning formula to improve retention rates and, hopefully, subscription rates.

Collect first-party data to gain those audience insights

One of the best ways to boost audience engagement and increase the value that readers experience from your publication is to encourage their engagement with your community. Encourage your authors to add the first comment to freshly produced content in an effort to kickstart a conversation with your readers. Encourage your audience to post their thoughts and use a commenting moderation tool to analyze the sentiment shared by your readers.

As more comments are submitted, you automatically build a wealth of first-party data that you can leverage to gain more insight into your reader tastes and preferences. You can pick up on things like what themes within the content people react towards, and you can measure the preference for one type of author over another.

Once you collect enough first-party data to really understand your audience, you can revamp your content strategy into a data-driven initiative. Focus the subject matter of your content around the themes, topics, and interests that your data informs you is what matters most to your readers. Show your avid community that you listen to their responses by producing more of the content they’ve indicated is what they want. This is how you build a loyal following that is likely to provide customer lifetime value for years to come.

Incentivize readers to act with special recognitions

To encourage further debate around your content, you can assign badges to comments that generate responses from other readers. Show your most valuable readers and/or subscribers that you recognize their contributions to the discussion, proving to them that they’re considered VIPs among your reading audience. Earn that reader loyalty and reap the fruits of those labors!

How To Prepare For Your Next Live Event Success Story

When it comes to holding live events, a seamless user experience is paramount. People have come to your platform to engage with its content, event coverage, and to interact with like-minded members of the community. If there are barriers to discoverability, technological hoops to jump through, and endless points of friction after their arrival – visitors will look elsewhere and take with them their potential contributions to your organization’s growth.

In the wake of your first big live event, an assessment of your user engagement and registration rates leading up to, during, and after the big day will help you gather valuable insights. That said, if this is your first rodeo, what can be done to set your platform up for success without prior experience or concrete data? What can an audience-first strategy do to drive a frictionless user experience? 

Don’t let a lack of data determine the success of your first big live event. There are steps you can take to ensure gains in positive engagement and registration rates. Those gains will come hand in hand with abundant data and audience insights essential for when optimizing your strategy for next time.  

Everyone wins when a live event succeeds

International events like the World Cup are incredible opportunities for platforms ready to make their live event debut. Something like the World Cup gives companies a chance to be the platform that connects audiences to valuable content like live venue coverage, events being held around the world that are World Cup related, and exciting discourse with the sports community. It’s imperative to keep the ‘live’ in live events; create a space where visitors can connect and share, comment on plays made by the world’s superstars, and experience the thrill of watching the World Cup with fellow fans in real time.

Assuming your live event attendance is good and your audience is engaged, satisfied, and happy to register in exchange for the value of the experience you’ve prepared for them, the rewards to your preparation will be immediately evident.

  • Interactions = Insights: Live events are an excellent opportunity to acquire first-party data and gain insight into the tastes, preferences, and sentiments of visitors. Those insights can then be used to hone your audience-first strategy and optimize the content you put out thereafter.
  • Reusable: when the event comes to a close, consider keeping it up for a while. If it was a successful event, there’s a good chance it could continue to be a valuable entry point for future or returning visitors. Work the landing page into your overarching experience and motivate more people to embark on deeper journeys into your site.

Consistency earns brand loyalty

Maintaining consistency in the look, feel, and tone of your platform is an important conversion point on its own. Consistency gives way to familiarity and taps into the same user tastes, preferences, and sentiments you should be catering to based on the insights you’ve gathered from their data.

Consistent user experiences are prime examples of how to convert more event attendees into loyal subscribers. The average conversion rate from live event attendees is 12.6%, and over one third of organizations convert users at rates higher than the average.

The purpose of live events is to leverage a time-sensitive, traffic heavy, and topical event in order to convert as many visitors to registered users and reward the loyalty of existing core users. It is, in the truest sense of the term, a value exchange moment. By providing users with the opportunity to engage with a special event they care about with as little friction as possible, your brand stands to earn the trust of users and become recognized as a provider of an experience worth their time and interest, not to mention something they see as worth sharing within their networks and beyond.

Tech solutions for live event first-timers

The right technology can bring all of these ideas to fruition. Digital community experience platforms power highly engaging live event experiences that dramatically increase engagement, page views, and registrations throughout the event. These platforms often also provide assistance with conversion strategies that earn more brand loyal users over time.

The Second Screen Experience

The multi-screen experience isn’t new. For many, scrolling on their phone has become an essential part of watching television – live events or not. Who among us hasn’t googled ‘Is Zendaya a nepotism baby?’.  It’s second nature at this point, and an excellent behaviour to consider when optimizing your approach to engagement. People need to be able to watch and interact with content at once.

When planning your upcoming live event, make sure that your platform facilitates a valuable second-screen experience. Give users the freedom to engage through your website or app; let them comment on big moments, interact with fellow attendees, and ask questions of expert speakers or panellists. This is one of the best ways to immerse people within the live event experience and earn their brand loyalty and trust in you as a content provider that understands them.

Live Blogging

Not everyone has time to pay attention to a live event in its entirety. Regular day to day busy schedules aside, some events may be occurring in different time zones and over hours, days, or weeks in some cases. Leaving this consideration out of your pre-event planning would be a disservice to its potential for success.

A platform with a built-in live blogging feature is an excellent way to provide folks the chance to enjoy the event without scheduling conflicts or inflicting FOMO on potential visitors. People can focus on the tasks they need to complete and use their second screens to follow along with minute to minute updates posted to the live blog. If they get a moment, they can comment on one of the updates and start a conversation with other members of the community.

AI Moderation

Not everyone is comfortable expressing their feelings or opinions. Those concerns are stronger on the web where trolls can easily attack or demonize other event attendees. If people don’t feel comfortable, they may stay silent or worse – leave. They miss out on the experience you’ve spent so much time preparing for them, and you miss out on valuable first-party data insights.

A platform that incorporates a moderation engine into its framework is a fantastic first line of defence. These AI moderation tools can enforce and maintain community guidelines in the absence of a 24 hour team of moderators. Any language deemed inappropriate is flagged and removed from the comments section, helping others feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings without fear of being cyber attacked by bullies or trolls.

Preparation is everything

All of these strategies, digital experience platforms, and live event engagement styles are at your disposal. Each one (or a mix) is capable of helping you launch a successful live event. That said, it’s imperative to keep in mind that your approach to live events must be aligned with your organization, the rest of your content and communications, and the company’s values as well as those of its loyal subscribers. 

Beyond that, another important consideration when planning live events is ‘will this be worth their time and does it show them we are focused on their interests and preferences?’. A well planned and timely live event has the potential to reinvigorate a waning publication, it’s simply a matter of preparing your platform to win over the eager masses headed your way with a valuable and rewarding experience.

What Traditional Media Companies Can Learn From Social Media Companies?

Over the past decade plus, we’ve seen social media evolve from a trend that kept people connected to arguably the most important and influential medium in modern society. More than just a way to share photos with friends, social media has grown into a space to share information, exchange ideas, and discover new communities. As we’ve seen from countless newspapers who failed to adapt to creating online content, traditional media companies can still learn a lot from social media organizations.

How social media changed consumption

Social media has changed not only the way we interact with each other, but also the way that content is consumed. For better or worse, many users want quick digestible content that they have the option of learning more through either a link to more longform content or the opportunity to react and discuss with other community members. That said, we’re now seeing a growth of social media intelligence, where most users are aware of lazy tactics such as clickbait or misleading headlines, and will have negative emotions towards any organization attempting to generate attention this way.

A traditional media company may look at a social media organization and see that audiences want quick, digestible content and find frustration in the fact that users aren’t sharing their content no matter how digestible it may be. However, these organizations are missing one key factor that social media companies thrive on.

The most successful social media companies thrive because they are able to target users with not just any digestible content, but content that matches their specific interests. By finding out what it is that each user wants to read, enjoys seeing, and is open to discussing, social media organizations can curate each user’s individual feed to provide an onslaught of content designed specifically for them. While this level of personalization can come across as exceedingly intimidating for a small startup that doesn’t have the resources that larger social media brands do, the lesson comes down to one simple point.

Know your audience

By leveraging data from their community to create personalized news feeds, advertising and programming as well as building a group of like-minded individuals who have an interest in discussing and expanding on the shared content, traditional media companies can provide some of the curated content that users love to experience from their favourite social media platforms.

Personalization can turn into a habit forming retention strategy

Through creating a personalized landing page, organizations are able to build habit forming behavior for their users. Many of the most successful social media companies even take it a step further and implement some sort of notification tool such as the bell icon found on both YouTube and Twitter that will immediately alert those who opt-in of any new content through a push notification. It works as not only an effective retention strategy that keeps users coming back for more with daily frequency, but also helps to keep those same users informed on the most recent conversations so that they can contribute to discussions and assist in growing the community.

Typically, people enjoy some sort of routine and familiarity which is why name recognition, brand loyalty and ease of use are such important factors to how people choose to consume online content. What social media companies thrive at is forming habits that in turn help create this brand loyalty. If someone is checking a specific Twitter account for news every day, then they’re more likely to have a positive association with that person and any other content that they may create.

In conclusion

While quality of a product is always the most important thing, social media is teaching all of us that quantity carries far more weight than traditional media companies originally thought. The days of quarterly, monthly, or even weekly papers are a relic of the past, as users now want new content on demand every time they glance at a publication. By providing something new every day, even if it’s just a short blurb or discussion, organizations can give their users a reason to keep coming back and build that positive association and loyalty that all media companies strive for.

SOC 2 Type 2 certification achieved, Viafoura completes the SOC compliance process

Viafoura, the leading digital experience company for global media organizations, is pleased to announce that it has successfully achieved Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 Type 2 certification.

SOC 2 Type 1 is different from Type 2 in that a Type 1 assesses the design of security processes at a specific point in time, while a Type 2 report (also commonly written as “Type ii”) assesses how effective those controls are over time by observing operations for at least six months. Essentially, It examines a service provider’s internal controls and systems related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of data. Viafoura achieved Type 1 certification in September 2021 and now, with the Type 2 certification, has completed the full SOC compliance certification process.

“The completion of the SOC certification process is a significant milestone for Viafoura. The security, trust and compliance of our customers’ data is of the utmost importance” says Mark Zohar, President and COO of Viafoura. “With our SOC 2 Type 2 certification our customers can remain confident that we have streamlined our processes and designed everything around incident impact minimization.”

“Our mission as a company is to create civil and brand-safe online communities that engage and activate digital audiences. This mission cannot be achieved without a strong investment in and commitment to data security and compliance.”

Best Practices From A Data-Driven Audience Engagement Manager

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

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

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

Know your target conversion rates

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

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

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

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

Identify the needs and interests of key demographics

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

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

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

What to look for in an audience engagement platform

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

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

Focus on how to drive up customer loyalty

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

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

Final takeaways

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

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

The benefits of hosting positive online interactions

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

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

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

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

Accessing the advantages of well-moderated social spaces

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

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

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

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

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

Audience interests

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

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

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

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

Predictive knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

Insight on user habits

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

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

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

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

The impact of positive user interactions on your company

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

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

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

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.

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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.

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