The awesomely all-female panel of Elena Haliczer from the Huffington Post, Lauren Bertolini from Gawker, Ruth Spencer from The Guardian, Libby Brittain from one of our favorite startups Branch, with The Guardian’s Amanda Michel moderating discussed the importance of social commenting within news stories.
The conversation centered mainly around engaging your audience – specifically figuring out a way to have meaningful discussions in forums and comments within the content itself.
Some of the best advice these ladies shared:
You gotta get in the game yourself.
Journalists who interact with their readers through social media, comment bars, and forums typically have a more loyal and engaged readership. Makes sense, right?
Connect with the people who care about what you care about; you’ll get fresh perspectives on your work, and often spark some ideas on new content for you to create. Inspired content and a loyal audience. It’s the whole reason you got in this business.
Comments are windows to your strengths and opportunities
Lauren Bertolini pointed out comments often expose the material that people actually read. What parts were most interesting, controversial, confusing. Comments are like having an instant focus group on your work.
She used Nick Denton, founder of Gawker, as a prime example: He leaves his writers notes in the comments bar starting a meaningful discussion between the editor and writer and reader.
Put the data to work.
Pay attention to your best-liked posts, your least-liked posts and everything in between to further build your own brand as a writer. Not only to watch yourself and your audience grow and evolve over time – but in the moment, as it happens.
News is never done in this online world, if comments are picking up steam right now take advantage and create new content around what’s resonating most with your readers.
While it would have been great to have had more time to talk about engagement beyond just comments, since that’s what we focus on every day at Chartbeat, I learned a lot about new ways journalists are getting even closer with their readers.
And my favorite part? Every panelist suggested distinctly different systems and algorithms to keep discussion clean and meaningful. Data nerds unite!