The Cape Breton Post is the leading regional newspaper in my hometown in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. I follow their newsletter and track local happenings. As a Web marketing guy, I see several opportunities for them to be more Web friendly. They are missing out on easy ways to gain more active and engaged readers.
Here are some tips:
1. Put Social Media Icons at the Top of the Page
They have a Twitter and Facebook account. However, they are not promoting them. These need to be at the top of every page on the site.
People who use these Social Media channels should be able to quickly find them with standard icons, top of page. For the users who click "Like" on the Facebook fan page, or "Follow" on Twitter, the Post now gains additional marketing channels.
2. Replace the Commenting System
There are several problems with the commenting system. This can be fixed by replacing the entire commenting system with a 3rd party system such as Facebook, Livefyre, or Disqus.
There are also several other options.
Issue #1: Failing Validation
While the anti-spam CAPTCHA being used serves a useful purpose, it can sometimes be tricky. Given that the Post moderates all comments (i.e. reviews them prior to approval), using a slightly less challenging CAPTCHA may be an option. However, that's not the biggest problem here. This is:
If you submit your comment, it refreshes the page and takes you to the top again. If your validation failed, you won't know unless you scroll down to the comments section again. You have to look for small red or green text indicating success or failure, and try again in the event of the latter. That is a significant software usability flaw.
Issue #2: No Alerts Means Lost Engagement
When you make a comment on any of the Post's articles, it will eventually pass moderation and get approved. However, there is no notice that it has been approved via email. Likewise, when someone else replies, you are given no notice.
The collective body of comments naturally evolves into a form of interactive discussion. While many comments represent individual opinions in direct response to the article content, many of them also reference one another and engage in a back and forth.
However, you cannot engage if you do not realize that anyone else replied. That's why optional email alerts (or a more social commenting system) is required.
Once a particular article on the Post loses our attention, we won't be coming back to it again even though there may be comments that would be of great interest to us, or that directly respond to our own prior comments. This is a completely missed opportunity for much greater engagement.
Issue #3: Comments are Not Social
If you use a Social Commenting system such as Facebook's, when the user makes a comment it is (optionally) posted to their Facebook account where it can gain more exposure and pull in users from outside.
Right now, the CB Post commenters appear to be largely a niche group of frequent readers. You will see the same names and anonymous alter egos used quite frequently.
Making the commenting system more social, is going to drive up engagement and exposure. More hits and more readers. That is exactly what every publication needs and wants.
Key Take Away
The Cape Breton Post website needs to move to a social commenting system that has a better validation, includes email alerts, and has social sharing capabilities for every individual post.
They also need to promote their social media accounts including Facebook and Twitter at the top of every page.
Fortunately, there are fantastic 3rd party systems already available to do so, and the technical requirements to integrate them are very straightforward and minimal in cost considering the significant improvements that can be gained.
[How To] Make the Cape Breton Post More Web Friendly @capebretonpost
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