News, which was once simply broadcast to the public, has now become an open conversation. It used to be that news organisations could simply tell people what was happening, but they’re now expected to not only talk about it, but also listen to the reactions it provokes. This makes social media an invaluable resource for journalists, not only opening up an important line of communication with the audience, but also providing a platform on which to push out content on a global scale.
As sales of print publications begin to dwindle and news sites struggle to make money without introducing often hugely unappreciated pay walls that send users elsewhere, social networks seem a dream come true for anyone hoping to tell a story to the masses. But not only do they provide a means to communicate the news, they’re also a veritable gold mine of new stories waiting to be reported.
Knowing how to utilise user generated content on your website and social media pages, and the ability to harness its gigantic power is now vital for journalists who want to get ahead. Senior reporters are eager to learn new skills, while the industry’s new generations are being taught about and trained in multimedia journalism, just as I was.
At university I was taught about the importance of user generated content, and that the amount of UGC I could generate was pretty much directly proportional to the level of success I would achieve. This was all very good and extremely appreciated advice… but one thing I was never warned of was the level of risk involved.
It’s fantastic to get comments from readers; they add to the story, create new leads and increase user engagement which attracts more people to read and participate in the discussion. That is, if all of these users do this responsibly. Of course you can’t trust everyone to behave online all of the time, and often inappropriate and offensive comments are posted – especially when it comes to controversial news topics.
Despite the abundance of benefits, the danger is that unsavoury comments will offend or even disgust other users; who will then withdraw from the conversation and take their valuable in-put to a competitor where they can express themselves and their thoughts without being subjected to any bad conduct. This means that while news organisations can create thriving online communities and loyal users, they must ensure they are providing a safe and positive environment in order to maintain it.
There are really only two options – close your site and social media pages to comments and user interaction, appearing ignorant and oblivious to the audience… or implement high quality moderation to give users a voice without putting them or your company at risk.
Obviously the first isn’t advisable – news organisations that still treat journalism as a one-way street are becoming outdated and their popularity is plummeting as people increasingly realise they want to have their say too. To block your ears and shout at people would be rude in the real world, so I’d advise against doing it online.
However, news sites that communicate with users and respect their opinions enough to provide a platform on which to discuss the published content will see visitor numbers soar. More visitors mean more advertisers – something we all know is essential to keep such a site up and running. Therefore, as both a journalist and a technological convert, the best advice I could give would be to use an effective moderation service to create a thriving, happy and healthy online community that readers will love you for.
Crisp Thinking’s comment moderation and community management service works 24/7 in more than 50 languages to detect and remove inappropriate user generated content from your website and social media pages, but we do so on your terms. This means you make the rules and Crisp puts them into action once you have decided what is and isn’t acceptable.
Not only does Crisp protect users and your site’s reputation, we can also provide valuable insight into what your audience wants. With Crisp’s in-depth social media analytics you can see which articles are popular and which provoke little interest, as well as determine the best time to publish content for optimum effect. This enables you to focus your time on creating fantastic content for your users to discuss, so that you can then watch as your site becomes a bustling hub of online interaction.