How affinity behaviors let your users get engaged with content

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Brightspot’s primary goal is getting assets published live within the CMS, but what happens to those assets after publish — on the front end of the website — is equally important. Take a simple, thoughtful, original story; once a writer is finished writing, an editor is finished editing, and the story is published on the site and promoted on the homepage — that’s just the beginning for that story.

There are plenty of ways visitors to the site can interact with that content, but just to list a few:

  • On a news site, visitors might be able to comment on the story, or follow the topic it belongs to in order to receive updates.
  • On a corporate site, visitors might be able to “favorite” a brand’s update about sustainability.
  • On an intranet site, visitors might want to be able to bookmark key policies and documents to review later at home in private.

Driving deeper engagement with content at the individual asset level is a key need for all publishers across all industries — and why Brightspot supports a wide variety of what we call Affinity behaviors. Each Affinity behavior is “sticky” in its own way, giving a site’s visitors a reason to return again and again. Here’s a quick overview of the most popular Affinity behaviors that can be supported in Brightspot.


Favorites is probably the most familiar metaphor to all of us when interactive with content, thanks to the Facebook “Like” button and the Instagram “Heart.”

Essentially, Favorites are a way for site visitors to show that they like something — and the Affinity itself can be molded to match the site’s content or audience. For example, a food site may want to visually treat Favorites with a dog-eared icon and call it “Saved Recipes,” while an entertainment news site may choose to brand its Favorites as a straightforward “Like” with thumbs up iconography.

It’s worth noting that Favorites are an outward behavior that can be made visible to other users — often they are associated with a count, such as “This recipe has been saved 587 times.”

Any content a site visitor has added as a Favorite can then be made available in the User Profile — giving visitors reason to return to see that content at any time.


Bookmarks are another fairly familiar Internet metaphor thanks to browser bookmarks; think of Brightspot Bookmarks as a site-specific equivalent.

Pages bookmarked using the Brightspot bookmarks are stored in a user’s profile. And, just as the bookmarks in your Chrome or Firefox browser are visible only to you, a user’s Bookmarks are visible only to them in their profile — not made available publicly on the site. Again, this storage gives a user a good reason to return to their user profile to access their Bookmarks.


Brightspot’s Following capabilities are designed to drive a more personalized experience by encouraging site users to identify topics that are relevant to their interests. Once a site visitor has selected a threshold of topics to follow, an area of the user profile can be dedicated to displaying the most recently published content matching those topics.

In our food site example, a site visitor may select Weeknight Dinners and Chicken for Following on a Sunday night. The food site’s editorial team publishes eight new recipes under the Weeknight Dinners topic on Tuesday, so the next time that site visitor views their profile, they’ll be shown the new recipes. Another great example is authors — site visitors can elect to begin Following a particular author, and then receive a feed of that author’s content each time they visit the site.


Another familiar set of table stakes online, Commenting is another available Affinity feature in Brightspot. (Worth noting that Brightspot also integrates nicely with Disqus, Livefyre, and other third-party commenting plugins.) Because Commenting so often comes with additional baggage — it also comes with additional features, such as a commenting moderation widget and the ability to disable comments on a given asset.

Insight Into Affinities

screenshot showing Brightspot Community widget
The Brightspot Community widget shows how many Affinity actions have been performed on a given asset.

These Affinity features are a great engagement tool for front-end site users — but they’re also a critical indication of user sentiment for editorial teams who are working on creating content. That’s why, once Affinities have been enabled on a site using Brightspot, an editor can view the Bookmarks, Favorites, and Follows that have been “activated” on a given asset.

Additionally, sites using Brightspot have the ability to designate which content types can have these affinities applied to them. So if the editors of our food site would prefer recipes to be Favorites and videos to be Bookmarks, they have the freedom and flexibility to add and remove affinity actions via a simple publishing step,

image of Brightspot employee Meredith Rodkey
About the Author
Meredith Rodkey is VP of Platform Product Management & Solutions at Brightspot. She has focused on product management for nearly 10 years, contributing to major Brightspot engagements from U.S. News & World Report to Arizent and Healthgrades. In her previous life, Meredith worked as a homepage editor and writer for AOL.com, curating a daily experience for millions of users.

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