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The Do’s and Don’ts of Reader Loyalty

By Kristen Dunleavy

Across our network of more than 1,000 publisher sites, there are a few constants.  One of these constants is that readers who participate in conversation are more loyal—they stay on site much longer, register as users, read more stories, and keep coming back. We’ve even seen that community conversation offers value to all readers, with increases in the number of visitors reading along and staying on-site longer. It’s clear: a publisher’s community is its backbone.

So, every Publisher needs to know: how can we drive more participation in conversation and, thus, more return readers and registered users? 

Simply put, the best way to drive loyalty and retention is in the quality of the conversations we facilitate. When your community members feel that they’re positively contributing to meaningful conversations, they’re more likely to keep reading, contributing, and coming back for more.

So, how can you do it on your site? Effective Moderation is the first step. Below are a few of the top ways that publishers can encourage quality conversations.

Do: Incentivize positive contributions. 

Your readers want to be heard. With OpenWeb, publishers can feature meaningful contributions to the conversation—this accomplishes a few things. First, they reward good behavior. A featured comment sits at the top of the conversation, where it gets more exposure, thereby encouraging more high quality comments. Because of its prominent position, it can help guide the conversation. Finally, featured comments make readers feel more invested in the community, driving them to return and continue interacting. 

Don’t: Hide from toxicity. 

When it seems likely that a conversation will be toxic, it may be tempting to turn a blind eye to the comments. Don’t do this! These conversations need more attention, whether it’s the writer jumping in and simply letting readers know they’re listening, to featuring quality comments early on to help steer the conversation in a healthy direction.

Do: Engage with readers. 

There are a lot of benefits to interacting with readers, including building trust and creating a loyal following. Engaging with readers by answering their questions and addressing their concerns also helps mitigate toxicity within the conversation. Journalists can use this as an opportunity to increase transparency by giving insights into the reporting process. See more tips for talking to readers.

Don’t: Argue with trolls. 

Certain topics, coupled with the online disinhibition effect, can lead to increased trolling behavior in the comment section. Trolls want attention—don’t give it to them. Arguing with trolls decreases the quality of the conversation, making other readers less likely to make positive contributions. Moderation technology that de-incentivizes low quality comments can help.

Do: Intentionally guide the conversation. 

Consider posting a featured question in the conversation to guide the discussion around a specific topic. When a question is featured, it appears at the top of the conversation. It’s one of the first things readers see when they visit the comment section, so it can help set the tone for the rest of the discussion. This is also an effective way to encourage interaction from readers who otherwise might not know what to say.

Host quality conversations and avoid toxicity

Publishers can host quality conversations that lead to loyal, engaged users. They can take actionable steps to improve the quality of those conversations in their community by actively engaging with readers and guiding the discussion. 

Get started today by using these tips to drive higher quality conversations.

To learn more about how OpenWeb can help support quality conversations for publishers, get in touch: hello@openweb.com

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