The Internet is a sea of voices that want to be heard. There’s no shortage of means to express your opinions either. A variety of personal blogs, discussion forums, social media platforms and website comment sections let users speak their mind, mostly in an uninhibited way. Nothing wrong with that, it may seem, but I think that anyone who uses the Internet for more than just email knows all too well how freedom of speech plays out online. I won’t delve into this topic, as its meaningful discussion is beyond the scope of a mere blog post. Instead, I’d like to show you how to use live chat to boost interactivity of your website and make communication more efficient.
Among the things facilitating the articulation of opinions I mentioned in the lead were comment sections. I’ll use them as a point of reference throughout the article when discussing ways to boost interactivity using live chat.
I find comment sections to closely resemble live chat rooms in a number of ways. However, they also differ from live chats in some aspects, I’ll get into that later on. In terms of similarities though, comment sections contain usually chronologically structured comments posted by individuals using nicknames, or sometimes staying anonymous. Users of both can get in touch with each other, as well as content publisher, and as such, comment sections and live chat rooms boost interactivity of websites.
The biggest problem with comment sections, though, is that they can get a little messy. By not keeping a constant watch over them, you risk leaving any number of sore spots for everyone to see. Especially at sites like The Huffington Post or Gawker, which post content on a multitude of controversial topics, moderators must have their hands full with all kinds of trolls roaming their pages.
Unfortunately, there is no instant solution to problems related to comment sections. Some people wouldn’t mind turning them off completely (you can take a look here and here for more on that). The authors make a number of valid points, however, I don’t entirely agree with the idea of revoking the website user’s right to speak their mind.
The point of this article is not to discredit comment sections, as they definitely boost interactivity of websites and provide audiences with means to express their opinions. It’s rather to show how live chat can support them and expand the ways for site users to stay connected.
Create real-time interaction using live chat
Ok, let’s start with what is probably the biggest difference between comment sections and live chat rooms. The latter boost interactivity by providing users with the opportunity to exchange comments in real-time.
A person expressing an opinion, but more importantly expecting a reply, doesn’t have to wait for an undefined period of time to get a response. In live chat someone is sure to pick up the comment immediately after it’s posted, granted it’s interesting or provoking enough to respond to.
Of course, a lot depends on the type of content your website serves. In some cases, longer, in-depth comments will be more suitable than quick, concise live chat responses. The latter will work well on all kinds of entertainment-related and brand-centered websites, usually frequented by younger audiences.
Boost interactivity during live-streamed events
Live chat happens to be an excellent add-on to all kinds of live-streamed events. From personal weblogs, through religious ceremonies, to sports. Providing the option to talk to other online participants of the event in real-time is a great way to improve user experience and boost interactivity of your site.
If you’re streaming webcasts or creating podcasts, allow your audience to interact with you as you produce the program. Religious organizations can reach out to and bring closer together the faithful, who can share their experiences as the ceremony goes. Sports fans watching streamed games can express their emotions, unite with other supporters and even trash talk live.
In this sense, live chat is a huge improvement over more or less static comment sections you can read after all is said and done. Create a new kind of experience for your audience and boost interactivity of your site by implementing simple, yet powerful live chat widget to facilitate real-time, two-way communication.
Hold private conversations via chat
The thing you can’t do in most comment sections is have private, direct conversations with other users. Even if the system allows for sending direct messages, this still isn’t real-time, one-to-one conversation. Thus, all opinions are exchanged in public forum, often including minor or insignificant comments adding to the bulk of content but not bringing anything substantial to the table.
Now, what live chat does to boost interactivity is it creates another channel for communication between website users, who can shift their conversation to private live chat for a variety of reasons.
From wanting to exchange personal contact details, to settling a dispute without having everyone bare witness to it. Live chat delivers flexibility in terms of holding a real-time discussion both, in public and private, as well as sending links and file attachments. All done to boost interactivity of the site.
Socialize your website
Essentially, all the matters discussed above contribute to the process of socializing a website. Among the top priorities of any website owner is not only drawing people to his page, but more importantly, making them stay and come back in the future.
One of the ways to achieve that is by building a community around your site. People attract each other naturally and will look for ways to stay connected to more likeminded individuals.
The Internet has rendered geographical barriers meaningless in terms of communication, so it’s no longer a question of if people can interact but how efficiently can they do it. Live chat is a pretty neat solution if you’re looking to boost interactivity of your website and make people keep coming back for more.
Fight spam efficiently
Reading this, you might have been wondering when will I mention the elephant in the (chat) room. Well, here it is. Notice I said ‘fight’, and not ‘eliminate’ or ‘get rid of’, since I don’t think you can actually do that. Not completely or without sacrificing readers, in any case.
Spamming, cyber bullying and trolling are common problems occurring in comment sections and live chats all across the web. It’s an impossible task to eradicate them completely, as with every banned troll, two new ones appear in his place.
This is not to say that you, as a site admin, shouldn’t make the effort. On the contrary. You need to realize that bad coments drive out good ones. No one in his right mind wants to step into a cesspool of hatred and aggressiveness.
The thing about live chat making it better positioned to fight spam than comment sections lies in its design. Most of the times it occupies a lot less space and conversations held in it are a lot more dynamic, making span not only less noticeable but also disappearing quicker without the need to moderate.
In this post I’ve discussed some ideas regarding how live chat can support comment sections to boost interactivity of websites. My intention wasn’t to prove that chat is better than comments, as these are two different, however similar tools, but rather to show how they can complement each other, with live chat providing enhanced flexibility in terms of interaction between site users.
The biggest advantage of live chat if you want to boost interactivity is that it makes real-time communication possible. It’s a tool that helps build a community around your website and encourages people to come back.
The validity of comment section, if you have one, is something you should definitely consider. Leaving site visitors with no options to socialize and discuss probably isn’t a direction you should head into. On the other hand, you might be wasting potent space right under articles or spending too much time and effort moderating the comments.
Live chat might be a solution for you if you’re trying to boost interactivity, as it doesn’t take up precious space, sitting in the corner waiting to be opened, can be turned off by site visitors, but also can prove to be a place for lively discussion involving people interested in your content. Whichever option you’ll go for, remember you’ll have to combine some powerful tech with human moderation for the best results.