Why Audience Matters More in ‘Slower’ News Cycles

By OpenWeb

It’s easy to capture traffic during big-ticket news cycles: elections, constitutional crises, mega-popular TV show finales. At times like these people are glued to their screens, endlessly refreshing for more and better content. What’s harder is attracting readers when the week’s biggest story is, say, the glacial progress of an infrastructure bill.

And yet it’s precisely these slower news cycles that offer publishers the best chance of building an audience. When everyone’s screaming about the exact same thing, it can be hard to carve out a distinct identity. When things are quieter, publishers have a better chance of being heard. With the right strategy, these periods can be used to dramatically grow one’s brand and keep readers coming back, no matter what’s happening in the news.

There is one essential word here, and it won’t shock anyone: engagement. On the most basic level, this means writing things that people actually want to read. Which of your articles keeps getting shared, even months after publication? What topics reliably generate clicks? The answers to these questions don’t have to guide every article you publish—but if your goal is to grow your audience, they’re worth keeping in mind.

And once you’ve caught a reader’s interest, nothing is likelier to keep them on-site than a lively, well-moderated comments section. Instead of thinking of your comments section as something separate—an afterthought to the real business of publishing articles—try thinking of it as an integral part of what you do. 

Encourage editorial staff to engage with readers. Despite the old mantra (“never read the comments”), the vast majority of people are commenting in good faith – and our multi-layered moderation tech promotes healthier, more productive conversations. They want to have a dialogue. If you can offer that—and can toss in some gamification, such as upvoting/downvoting functionality—you’ll be well on your way to building a community, the kind of place readers want to return to day after day. 

We built OpenWebOS to give publishers and their teams the power to own engagement with their readers. So instead of dreading the news cycle’s inevitable dead stretches, learn to look forward to them—as a chance for you and your readers to slow down and get to know one another, when the world is a little less frantic.

Let’s have a conversation.

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