Here are two simple tactics you can use to engage with your users and encourage quality discourse and higher attention time:
Ask a closed ended question, with only a few choices for a response, at the end of your article
By providing some direction at the end of your article on how your audience should respond, you can drive quality conversations. For example, instead of ending an article with “Share your comments below”, you end it with an binary optional question such as:
Schools are in discussion about sexual education in the class room. Is this good or bad for the children? Why?
In plane crash investigations, should the investigations be lead by local authorities or the owners of the planes?
A mother and her child were kicked off a plane due to a screaming toddler. Should airlines have the right to do this or not? Why?
By providing specific direction, you set the tone and provide a channel for your audience to direct their thoughts. If left open ended, your audience will decide which topics to engage with, sometimes yielding to off topic discussions.
Spark conversations with your users directly using this format
As a journalist, we understand that you have limited time, and can only engage with valuable commentary. Once you have identified that commentary (Viafoura can show you which comments to engage with) you can utilize one of these four techniques to increase quality of commentary, and therefore the quality of the story.
Studies show that engaging with users directly results in a 15% decrease in incivility in comments.
Respond to questions (from quality users)
Once you have identified a question (from a quality comment and user), respond to the user directly in the comments. For example, “Good question Jim, the school sexual education program does not take into account religious orientation as the public school system is secular”
Ask Questions (from the best comments)
You can ask your audience specific questions within the commenting stream itself (and then “highlight” the comment so it is pinned to the top) and encourage dialog this way. For example
“Both Christian and Muslim communities oppose the sex education program, what are your thoughts on this?”
Provide Extra Information
When the journalist has more information to offer, include this in the conversation stream. For example. “Here is an example of how the sexual education programs are done in the Netherlands”
Highlight On Topic Comments
By highlighting certain comments (i.e. marking them as “editors pick”) you recognize your audience and their comments that add value to the conversation. Through this recognition, you also set the tone of the conversation.