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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Best Practices From A Data-Driven Audience Engagement Manager

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

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

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

Know your target conversion rates

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

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

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

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

Identify the needs and interests of key demographics

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

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

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

What to look for in an audience engagement platform

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

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

Focus on how to drive up customer loyalty

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

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

Final takeaways

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

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

The benefits of hosting positive online interactions

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

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

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

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

Accessing the advantages of well-moderated social spaces

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

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

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

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

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

Audience interests

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

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

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

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

Predictive knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

Insight on user habits

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

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

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

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

The impact of positive user interactions on your company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Generally, the news has raised eyebrows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Predictive analytics

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

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

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

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

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

Group of celebrating business partners

3. Automated moderation

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

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

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

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

4. First-party data collection

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

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

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

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

Elevating your brand with comment moderation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Gathering first-party data

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

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

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

2. Reducing toxicity

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

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

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

3. Creating a connection with your audience

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

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

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

4. Limited reach on social media

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

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

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

Stop using social media to build a user community

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

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

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.

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.

Exit mobile version