What Does it Mean to Engage Your Audience Today?


Newspapers have always been about engaging their audience through strategies like attention-grabbing headlines or hyper-local stories. So why is audience engagement the latest buzz word on everyone’s lips in the industry?

“Newspapers don’t have to be passive, one-way communications. It can be a respectful two-way relationship, which is far more motivating in terms of time and money,” says Jesse Moeinifar, CEO and Founder of Viafoura. “Media outlets around the world are proving that audience engagement is key to rebuilding readership and revenue streams.”

The rise of social media over the past 15 years has provided a wealth of inspiration for building lasting relationships with an audience. Today, newspapers are experimenting with a wide variety of methods, ranging from expanding comment sections to hosting live stories, to better connect with their communities

Whatever route newspapers decide to take, there are a few standard do’s and don’ts to live by for audience engagement.

1. Size doesn’t matter
“Even the smallest newspapers can – and I would argue must – create opportunities to grow audience relationships through quality engagement,” says Moeinifar.

With the introduction of machine learning and natural language processing, things like real-time commenting are within reach for just about any outlet.

2. Create a system for moderation
Building rapport between your newspaper and the public inherently involves opening channels of communication – which can bring out both good and bad players. “Nothing kills an engagement initiative quicker than feeling like you are creating opportunities for bad behavior,” explains Moeinifar. So, be sure that your efforts include a way to weed out spammers and hateful comments.

3. Collaborate with innovative vendors
Unfortunately, many newspapers today don’t have the resources to develop their own technology to create a rich, personalized reader experience. So, they will need to turn to partners.

“The first principle when looking for a partner is that you must own and control your data. It is immensely valuable and should not be turned over to a third party,” advises Moeinifar.

Engaging multiple vendors offering point solutions can also present challenges. For example, blocking a rule-breaking user from commenting doesn’t remove them from live chat unless the same vendor supplies both tools.

That’s why it’s often a best practice to employ a vendor that can do it all, like Viafoura.

“We don’t just believe it is possible for media organizations to reclaim their standing through audience engagement, we believe it is essential for all of us that they do,” says Moeinifar. “In that spirit, we have used our understanding of online human behavior to build a comprehensive suite of audience engagement tools.”

The audience engagement company currently helps over 600 brands better connect with their audiences with this suite of tools, which ranges from live story coverage and real-time conversations. The Toronto-based team also offers a number of powerful personalization features as well as advanced natural language processing and machine learning to promote safe discourse.

To learn more about audience engagement and Viafoura, call 1-800-711-4838 or visit viafoura.com.