Social media managers who are used to (and a little bored with) the convention of user comments being confined to the bottom of the page are in for pleasant surprise: San Francisco-headquartered social engagement startup Livefyre, which has offices in New York and London, is bringing user comments into the content itself, courtesy of its groundbreaking new product, the aptly-named Sidenotes.
If that’s whetted the curiosity of social media managers looking for lively interactive innovations here’s how it works: when publishers using the product turn it on, a little word balloon, the Sidenotes icon, will appear beside every paragraph on the page (it also works for images). When users tap the icons on their smartphone screens, other user comments will emerge in threaded conversations at the specific points of the content that elicited the user interest and response. The comments open up in small window in the lower part of the screen, and you can move between comments by swiping. And, of course, you can add a comment of your own.
To prevent a distracting excess of balloon icons, they’re tied to whole paragraphs, but users have the option of tying their particular comments to any specific bit of the text. There’s also an upvote/downvote system, so you get to see the best comments first.
Livefyre founder and CEO, Jordan Kretchmer, has ambitious plans for the new approach to comments that Sidenotes represents: his larger goal, he says, is to turn “the entire web, every major media company in the world” into “a giant, annotatable canvas.”
But he’s no egomaniac; he’s well aware that he’s got a little persuading to do before the approach really catches on, so he’s bringing publishers on board by staying with something more traditional (by which he means the original Livefyre social engagement platform for brands).
He believes, though, that Sidenotes has the potential to revolutionize the conventional format for comments, and will result in more and more people feeling inspired to post because it’s a lot less intimidating to respond to a specific piece of content than to the whole nine yards. Plans are in the pipeline to enable users to post comments tied to timestamped bits of videos, too.
We think most social media mangers will agree that this could take off big time.