From my experience in news and evergreen publishers (CNN, Men’s Health, Runners World, Bicycling, etc.), I’ve never seen such an engaged audience until I got to Fusion Media Group. The Pareto principle applies overall across media companies: 20% of audiences consume 80% of stories. But what I’m seeing is a smaller audience who is so loyal (returns often) and spend so much time actively engaging, consuming and commenting on our stories, their user behavior is telling us that our sites act as a social platform, a microcosm that curates real stories.

The data and analytics team (along with the editorial, product and business teams) has been very interested in understanding the user behavior of these engaged audiences, who we call superfans (of which I am one of) and here’s what we found:

  • Superfans visit our sites around 40 times per month, spend over 30 minutes actively engaging with our sites per month— they also have a 100% persistence rate meaning that they’re visiting our sites every month. Our superfans are more likely to be logged in and our commenting community is super active — average comments per post > 100
  • Superfans contribute to more than 50% of affiliate commerce clicks, which drives significant revenue. This tells me that our superfans trust our product recommendations in addition to our journalism
  • Superfans are much more likely to visit our sites through recirculation (movement across sites) than the average user: Superfans typically visit four of our blogs every month

Our loyal audience treat Kinja as their own (trusted) social platform to express themselves, break stories, and share ideas in an anonymous way. Why do we have this loyal audience? TRUST.

According to research from Digital Content Next, trust in social platforms has been declining and is now spilling to brand sites. Indicators that were vital for trust in the research study include: in-depth, updated & current, high quality and expertise, authentic, easy to use; and there are hidden drivers of trust like personalization and having a perspective. These describe our blogs, but it’s hard to quantify these qualitative attributes.

Here are a few of the many iconic stories across our network that drove our audiences to becoming loyal and to take actions like sharing, commenting and purchasing products that helped us grow in consumption and revenue: a software engineer’s screed against Google’s diversity initiatives, story and video mashup of the Sinclair stations, story about a brave woman, and the list goes on.

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It’s this type of journalism that turns the FMG audience into superfans.