Commenting system Livefyre today introduced a new version of its Comments product, bringing a slew of new features for end users and publishers alike. But the bigger story is the new backend it’s built – one designed with real-time publishing of virtually any kind of media in mind.
The new Comments, called Comments 3, provides rich text editing for commenters, post editing by commenters/moderators, comment flagging, notification of new posts, social syncing of discussions happening on Facebook and Twitter (presented in chronological order in-stream) and the ability to embed media from select partners, including YouTube, SoundCloud and others.
All the new features are designed to drive customer engagement, but Livefyre CEO and founder Jordan Kretchmer pointed especially to a new feature that surfaces new comments and replies to comments on pages no matter where a reader is currently looking.
“Our new notification feature on the page helps engage readers who maybe aren’t looking at the comments,” he explained. “My favorite new feature is when you’re reading an article, and someone types a new comment, it displays a little message on the page with the user’s avatar and a preview of the comment they just made. If they replied to you, it also does that.” Since comment sections often follow not only the content on a page, but also ads, suggested links and other features, it’s a significant addition that should help get more people commenting, which is key driver of return visits for any blog or publisher site.
Alongside the feature additions, the biggest changes are below the surface. Livefyre has redesigned its backend, which should speed things up for general commenting use, as well as decrease file sizes and generally improve performance. But it also lays the groundwork for the next stage in the startup’s development.
“This is a big release for us, not just in terms of the new features that we launched,” he said. “It’s the first application we’ve launched on top of our brand new platform architecture, so you’re going to start seeing some other stuff from us aside from real-time comments in the very near future, all built on top of this new platform.” Other services it could provide include real-time video or image publishing, something both bloggers and publishers alike should benefit from.
That should help it differentiate itself from others like Disqus and Facebook’s own commenting system. Kretchmer also notes that Livefyre differs by allowing its publishing partners to own their own communities, rather than requiring that they sign in to a universal Livefyre account. He says this is especially important to its big publisher customers like The New York Times. Another crucial difference, according to Kretchmer, is the ability to recognize and bring in your friends from Facebook and Twitter via direct tags, helping encourage multiple communities to join the conversation.
Livefyre last raised funding in October 2011, when it secured $4.5 million in Series B funding. Kretchmer says they’re still happy with where they’re at financially, especially since they’re paid product is generating revenue ($6 million booked in sales to date, he told us), but also admits there have been a lot of inbound requests from potential investors. He anticipates the possibility of raising additional funds once the company looks to expand its offerings beyond comments more aggressively, building on its brand new platform.