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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. They’re put off by toxic comments

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

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

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

Four adults looking at something on a tablet.

3. Your content isn’t relevant or engaging

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

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

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

4. They don’t have a reason to comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make your comments section safe and relevant

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

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

How to build a following around your journalists, your coverage, and your brand

Building a loyal following isn’t a short-term effort. It’s a long-term process that requires you to break down rich first-party data to identify the type of content that engages your audience. Without first-party data, it’s very difficult to know what type of audience a journalist is building. 

Implementing a community engagement platform to collect first-party data from registered users is essential for finding out what types of content your users like, planning future content, and developing a strategy to create a following around your journalists and your content. 

Below, we’re going to look at some tried and tested ways media organizations can build a following around their journalists, their coverage, and their brand, from driving registrations to personalizing newsfeeds and producing live Q&As.

Drive registrations to capture first-party data

Getting visitors to register to your site is the first step toward building a loyal following because it enables you to start collecting first-party data to analyze users’ preferences, so you can create and recommend content that’s relevant to their interests. 

When building a following, the easiest way to encourage your audience to register on your site is to provide them with a gated comment section where they can enter their name and email address to leave their opinions on articles and interact with other users. 

It’s worth noting that once a reader subscribes to your site and participates in the comment section, your journalists can start to monitor their feedback to identify what topics they’re interested in, so they can create more engaging content and start to build a bigger following.

Provide users with personalized newsfeeds

Today, consumers expect personalized digital experiences whether they’re shopping online or searching for news. As a result, it’s becoming more important for media organizations to provide their audience with personalized newsfeeds so that they spend more time on-site engaging with relevant content. 

The best way to personalize newsfeeds is with an AI-driven community engagement platform that lets you see what types of articles users spend the most time on and their sentiments toward particular topics and journalists, so you can recommend the types of stories they’re most likely to be interested in.

For instance, if someone reacts to an article on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by clicking the “like” button, the AI can infer that the user is interested in left-leaning news coverage and recommend other political topics and authors that a democratic supporter might also be interested in reading or following.

Gain loyal followers by offering live Q&As, AMAs, and interactions with guarded journalists and speakers

If you want to increase your loyal followers, live content like Q&As and Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions can be a powerful tool to build a closer relationship between your journalists and your audience. 

Live content like Q&As and AMAs gives your audience an opportunity to interact with journalists they wouldn’t be able to reach normally. 

Direct interaction between your journalists and users makes the audience feel like you value their opinions, while also giving them a chance to ask questions, fact-check live content and recommend future topics they’d like to see covered.

Keeping the conversation civil with automated moderation

When building a user community, you need to have a strategy to address toxicity if you want to retain your audience long term. If you don’t have a solution in place to moderate comments and remove hate speech or abuse, then the conversation can quickly spiral out of control and push people away.  

For example, on Twitter, toxic messages accounted for 21% of all conversations around the Covid-19 pandemic. The high level of toxicity across social media is a key reason why as little as 18% of Americans believe social media companies are doing an excellent or good job at addressing online harassment. 

Automatically moderating comments with an AI-based solution is critical for making sure that abusive content is removed from the conversation, while also ensuring that your audience has a safe space to communicate with each other and with your journalists to form a greater connection.

Give your audience the content they want

Getting to know your audience in real-time with first-party data is the key to building a loyal following around your journalists and your brand. The better you get to know your users through their data, the better you can develop the content they want to see.

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