LiveWorld, a white label social networking and community solution provider, unveiled a new conversation solution this morning called LiveBar â„¢ which essentially allows any website, or singular web page on a website, to add conversation tolls seamlessly and without large-scale development. LiveBar lives as a bottom toolbar to the userâ€™s browser and only expands to allow for the conversation and commenting elements if the user chooses to participate.
The concept is a pop-up conversation space for each page of a website rather than a community or conversation page that stands apart from the content. Conversations are threaded and divided into shouts (microblogging), soapboxes (longer form comments) and traditional conversations (like blog comments). In the current version, you must be registered with the website in question (simple and easy, though) to participate in the commenting.
The solution is good news for companies or organizations looking to bring a conversational element on to their existing website without having to suffer through the cost or headache of large-scale CMS upgrades, policy changes and website overhauls. The system can be installed on any website in a matter of minutes so if your boss says, â€œHow long will it take for us to have commenting and what-not enabled on our website,â€ you can honestly answer, â€œBy the end of day.â€
Hereâ€™s what I like about it:
- Itâ€™s quick and simple to install, deploy and use.
- It provides powerful conversational elements on any website, even on those that seem far from conversational, immediately bringing the brand or company in question up to speed with social components.
- The conversational elements can be placed on any number of pages within your website and conversation can exist as part of a single page or several pages can be tied together as part of one conversation. The tools donâ€™t have to apply to the entire site, but can.
- Code snippets allow the content of your current site to quickly point to the conversational elements. This is nice because the LiveBar tool can appear to be a separate browser element as skinning has yet to be incorporated into the full product.
- When the LiveBar product expands to take up about half the browser window, it creates additional ad space for your website which can be tied into your own ad server, Google ads or coded component you place there. This adds marketable space without having to alter or add space to your current websiteâ€™s design.
- If youâ€™re a hyper-commentor on a specific website, you can grab a widget of your comments to place on your blog, MySpace profile, etc. This will come in handy for the Tulane students who self-publish and want to show off how they told the University to stick it right on their very own website. Of course, itâ€™s a good way to show off your insightful commentary there as well.
What I donâ€™t like about it:
- Skinning (reportedly available in an October release of version 1.1) isnâ€™t available yet, meaning the LiveWorld orange and black experience will result in a look and feel that may clash with your current websiteâ€™s design, allowing users to feel like their â€œcommentsâ€ are going somewhere other than your site.
- Forced logins can be a deterrent to participation, but itâ€™s not a whole lot different than having to leave your name and email address to comment on a blog. The ability to set open registration may also be made available in a later version of the software, but for now your commentors will have to declare themselves. (This isnâ€™t always bad, of course.)
- As I understand it, the client ability to moderate comments is also not fully blown out to include all the capability a company might want. While LiveWorld does count moderation services as part of its offering, if the end client canâ€™t personally control comment moderation, youâ€™re limiting yourself to only companies willing to go full-boar with conversational elements. While we in the social media space embrace this approach, the simple fact of life is that all companies donâ€™t. This feature will hold LiveBar back until itâ€™s added, in my opinion.
Overall, this is a quick and easy turnkey solution for companies that want to catch up with the conversation game. Itâ€™s a nice tool that brings some powerful capabilies to the table. While Iâ€™m not sure what their pricing structure is, Iâ€™m sure thereâ€™s a combination that can suit small and large businesses.
LiveWorld can be found online at http://www.liveworld.com. They are headquartered in Austin, Texas, and Bryan Person, a friend and creator of the Social Media Breakfast currently serves as their community manager.