Audience Engagement tools to create communities that care.

Using social platforms for good, facilitating good conversations.

You’re reading the Media Hackers tool teardown. Each post breaks down tech tools that newsrooms and media organizations. I’m Erin Mikail Staples, and I work at the intersection of community and product, with a work history in media organizations, tech startups, and SaaS platforms, and I’m passionate about empowering creators.


Audience Engagement: What is it and why do I care?

If we take a look at the newsrooms of yesteryear (okay, um 20 years ago), we’ll notice that we didn’t really lead with the concept of audience engagement. newspapers were delivered to the house on a daily/weekly basis, the content was received and often created by local talent, and you paid a subscription rate

Now that we have the ✨internet✨ and a bit more choice in the type of media that we consume, it’s natural for us to expect more of our media organizations. Also, media organizations are largely competing against a plethora of other things on the web. (It’s about product-market fit).

One thing that can allow for your content to rise above other organizations, is a strategic audience engagement and community plan. There are a few direct reasons for this:

  1. Expanding your reach: marketing and promoting your content

  2. Crowdsourcing from your readers

  3. Building trust within your community

  4. Creating relationships between your product and its members

  5. Tracking engagement to make sure your work matters

Through employing a better audience engagement strategy, we can make sure that we’re not only connecting with our audience better, but we’re also building relationships that facilitate trust, and resources. Reminder: in media, you’re not simply delivering a product, oftentimes you’re educating, informing, or facilitating conversations around your product.

Starting the conversation: social platforms

It is no longer responsible for us to simply scoff at social platforms. Especially in a time where we’re largely social distancing and sheltering in place, we must leverage social platforms for our own benefit, and to help connect with audience members. Below you’ll find a teardown of the 3 major social platforms and associated tools that can be used with each.

⚠️ heads up! this topic was among the most requested by early adopters, you can read this topic and updates in the media hackers database

Twitter

The favorite platform among most journalists and tech folks, it naturally builds a sort of circle within the platform (see the peculiarity of Venture Capital Twitter).
Quick Facts

Things that work well on the platform

Incorporating Audience Engagement Strategies

  • Inspire curiosity: what is your audience naturally interested in? Tweet that.

  • Follow up with engagement: Did someone quote tweet your story with a good input? Wonderful! Keep the conversation going, even if it’s a simple, “thanks for sharing”

  • Build Lists: I choose to build lists of certain segments of my audience, this allows me to see who is talking about what in different segments of my audience.

  • Start the conversation: Ask questions, encourage reporters/team members to play an active role on the platform, share curiosities.

Facebook

Don’t give up on the platform yet over 2.6 billion users were on the platform in the first quarter of 2020. And while many are calling for us to boycott Facebook, the truth is is that this platform hosts many of the people we actually need to have conversations with the most. (Yes, that means you too, Zuck)

Quick Facts

  • Stuck on the latest updates: this breakdown tears down the essential facts for a journalist on the platform. FYI - live video is still in, and sometimes the less produced more real content performs better.

Things that work well on the platform

  • Think subscriber first: Focus on sharing content that is most engaging, and keep in mind what is/isn’t behind a paywall. Top articles, newsletter, and news that directly impacts your community does well.

  • Start niche groups: Building a group around a specific purpose can allow for more focused conversation, they can be light-hearted, like this one, or serious, like this one.

  • Encourage follow up: YOUR 👏 AUDIENCE 👏 ISN’T 👏 DUMB👏 now tattoo that into your forehead! So many times I’ve heard that your audience is not smart or don’t understand what’s going on — but it’s up to you to educate them! Demonstrate behavior you’d want to see on your page by doing it first.

Incorporating Audience Engagement Strategies

  • Thank your audience: take time to thank them for following along, or even bringing people to a decision.

  • Follow up with engagement: Comment back to people, answer questions, encourage them to keep the conversation going.

  • Feedback = good: Don’t just dismiss a negative comment, share it with your team and figure out where it’s coming from.

  • Start the conversation: Vox used a Facebook group to learn more about Obamacare enrollees, they started the conversation, how are you starting your own conversation?

Instagram

What’s commonly seen as the platform for millennial influencers, can also educate and start a conversation, something we saw at the start of the COVID crisis, and throughout BLM. Thorugh joining a platform where people are open to sharing information, we can increase reach.

Quick Facts

Things that work well on the platform

Incorporating Audience Engagement Strategies

  • Thank your audience: take time to thank them for following along, or even bringing people to a decision.

  • Embrace the platform: The platform favors well-designed, shareable content, know this and you’re already ahead of the game.

  • Leverage Interactivity: Instagram stories features allows for ease of interactivity, and inspires others to connect with you — use that! They love to see it.

Additional Links on Audience Engagement

Parting thoughts from someone who’s been there:

Social media is sometimes an abstract conversational job, you’re responsible for being storyteller, graphic designer, web producer, fact-checker, audience engagement lead, conversationalist, and sometimes customer service.

Be nice to the person who’s running social, and FYI, this person shouldn’t necessarily be an entry-level job making minimum wage either. It’s a profession and requires its own level of expertise, trust, and skillset. Trust them, empower them, and give them what they need to be successful (and maybe take time and learn a few things from them, b/c it helps everyone!)


Thanks for the first tool teardown of Media Hackers!

You will soon be able to view these on an online database to reference in the long haul, bookmark this page to get updates, or better yet — Join us on Discord

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What community building or audience engagement strategies are you using?

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