Let’s talk about Burger King’s marketing campaign. In 2018, the fast food giant launched a campaign by simply retweeting old tweets under the assumption that the stunt would garner attention. It did. The campaign highlighted the effect of revisiting old things, like old tweets, and of course, funnel cake fries. Notably, the campaign intrigued those who were familiar with the fries, as well as those who were not. Those who had not tasted the fries, now did not want to miss out on new age-old charm.
This marketing campaign was a success due to two factors:
The audience was able to easily relate to it.
It sparked conversation. One tweet led to another, one comment led to another and the branding exercise almost felt communal
Now let’s extrapolate this to the marketing scenario for media houses. It would be fair to say that if your content is your product, it needs to instigate conversation. As a result, news organizations must treat reader comments with the same level of consideration that they treat their own stories. People always want convenient ways to interact with each other and the easiest way to facilitate a conversation is to use comments, which are visually listed next to the content itself.
A recent study by Quintype, on the basis of publishers’ data has shown that if your content has one comment, it is 54% more likely to be followed by another comment. Through these conversations, comment sections lead to the formation of a virtual community.
By encouraging audience engagement, comments increase the visibility of your posts and lead to an increase in pageviews. People who comment on your content are likely to have strong views for or against your content, and are hence more likely to return to your website to express them. This dedicated community then becomes an inexhaustible source of engagement for your website.
The number of high-quality comments your post receives will improve the overall ranking of your content since comments are calculated as a part of your post’s content. As is the case with any other product, having more comments on your posts will convey your credibility to others and that will make them want to engage.
With commenters adding to the main report with real time updates, the article starts trending again. And hence, these articles gain more traction as they enter the circulation again. Going beyond pageviews, this devoted community can kickstart and sustain an ecosystem of healthy discussions and debates, which is one of the principle elements of journalism.
People love sharing their own opinions, experiences and ideas about topics that they care about strongly, especially if those issues affect them directly. So, it comes as no surprise that the highest number of comments (which corresponded to the number of views) was around news, politics and social issues.
In India, reports indicate that publishers like Swarajya magazine, National Herald and the Quint, which had a single opinionated voice, were the forerunners in attracting audience attention. Looking at EastMojo, a digital news platform, we noticed that socially sensitive stories get the public to engage. Though most of their posts received an average of 2-3 comments, one of their articles about the sexual harassment of a youth in Mizoram received an unusually large number of comments.
Stories around health and fitness also generated a large number of comments. The Quint Fit led in this segment. However, most of these articles that had a large number of comments also were ones that had a social impact. For example, an article in Quint Fit related to Nipah virus received at least 10 comments.
A large number of comments come with their own set of challenges. Toxic comments, spam bots and trolls can overtake thriving comment threads. This makes it impossible for people to continue meaningful conversations.
Investing in a feature-rich commenting platform like Metype goes a long way in sustaining and growing these online communities.