How to captivate and engage your online community: is social media past it?

Taking control of your online community

Jordan Kretchmer is the founder and CEO of Livefyre.com, a platform that helps brands and media companies build and manage real-time content experiences on their own sites. Over 1,000 customers strong, it's powering real-time content and social on most of the largest sites on the web.

In this interview, we talk to Jordan about why he launched Livefyre, his plans for the company over the next year and key issues in the industry.

TechRadar Pro: Why did you launch Livefyre, what problem were you trying to solve?

Jordan Kretchmer: People are truly passionate about the subjects and products they consume; we wanted to give them an easy way to comment, share, and discover within the sites they're browsing, rather than having to hop off to social networks.

Meanwhile, publishers and brands can now truly give their audiences a voice and create much higher levels of engagement. I saw a way to potentially impact millions of people with the products we were setting out to create, while also innovating in a space that had become static.

TRP: Livefyre was traditionally known for commenting but you have a fairly expansive product suite at this point. Can you tell me a bit more about how these all fit together from a technology standpoint?

JK: Whereas other products on the market are a patchwork of point solutions, we've developed a single platform called Studio for all content marketing, user generated content and engagement. Studio puts billions of pieces of content at marketers' fingertips, where they send it to their websites, mobile apps and all of their digital marketing – in seconds, and without writing a single line of code.

Studio acts as the central command centre for all of Livefyre's social visualisations, engagement apps, design tools, and management features. So with just a few clicks, marketers can quickly find and manage content and design interactive experiences for their audiences.

For publishers and brands the integrated product suite acts as a single control centre through which to connect with audiences. Not only does this give them total flexibility to switch on and off functionality (e.g. Comments or a Media Wall), it also means that we can really easily move to act on consumer preferences.

For example, one of our latest products, Sidenotes, allows readers to engage directly with content – a quote, a paragraph, an image – anywhere on a page. Rather than requiring a new implementation, for existing customers it can be turned on within seconds. Our customers love that we're constantly innovating on their behalf. We take a lot of time to listen, so that our product development roadmap is always aligned with where our customers are taking their business.

TRP: Lately there's been a lot of discussion on Facebook's diminishing organic reach; should brands and publishers even focus on having a social presence at this point?

JK: Absolutely, but this focus must be directed in a different way than say two years ago when everyone was obsessed with reach on Facebook and Twitter. Instead, we're seeing brands, as well as publishers, wanting to bring people to their site for a consistent and richer experience.

They've realised the need to take back control – CMOs can't rely on third-party networks to build and maintain communities. People expect much more from sites, as well as the ability to directly interact with brands. Now that it's here, this expectation will only become deeper as brands and publishers get closer to their communities than ever before.

TRP: Livefyre has built some customised projects for brands, including My Oscar Photo, which allowed at-home viewers to take photos on the red carpet, for the Academy Awards. Where do ideas like this come from, and can you talk us through the technology behind this?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré (Twitter, Google+) has been musing and writing about technology since 1997. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global techfests, developing an uncanny attraction for anything silicon, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro.