How Building a Community Helped Launch an International Brand When Livefyre launched it was looking to help bloggers build up a community by engaging with commenters. Now it is the fourth largest site network online. Here is how they did it.

By Melanie Spring

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Melanie Spring

The following is the 12th in the series "Live Your Brand" in which branding expert Melanie Spring takes us along on her three-week road trip across the country to meet innovative entrepreneurs whose experiences offer lessons learned to businesses big and small.

Blog comments were quickly becoming antiquated and in 2009, Jordan Kretchmer was looking for an online space where people could talk to others about topics they cared about. He found lots of forums and websites but nothing central.

Instead of creating a website to house this social chatter, he decided to bring a social and real-time application to the sites these conversations were already happening. In June of 2010, Kretchmer had the first release of Livefyre -- a new and better way to connect with others online.

It originally worked as a free blog commenting system allowing bloggers to build community through conversation. By adding features like social curation and advertising, Livefyre now touts CBS and Showtime as customers.

Related: Richard Branson on Growing Your Business by Building a Community

This past year, they were the fourth largest site network on the web. Here's how they did it.

1. Grow a brand your employees take pride in. With more than 100 employees in San Francisco, New York and London offices, there is a lot of passion coming out of every pore of Livefyre, and you can tell they truly care about their coworkers and customers.

"People really love the brand. We all take real pride in the brand," says Colleen McMillen, the director of public relations.

How Building a Community Built an International Brand
Livefyre's fun office space
Image credit: Melanie Spring

And while every employee knows the impact they can make on a daily basis, Livefyre keeps the atmosphere upbeat with happy hours and a TGIM (Thank God it's Monday) mentality.

2. Create an office people want to work in. As Livefyre has grown, they know it's important to keep the culture the same. For birthdays, you'll still catch them having light stick raves, singing the Free Willy theme song with cake and Kretchmer giving a speech. It's an easy work environment with a casual attitude, but everyone knows they must keep up with how fast-paced it moves.

Related: How to Get More Comments on Your Blog

With this mentality, it is easy to see why employees love working at Livefyre and it shows. They're super collaborative, lots of yelling across the office and even more laughter. They tweet from their personal accounts about how awesome the company is, post about the office interactions, the silliness of Movember and the all-out fun they have at office parties.

3. Connect personally with your customers. Interaction with their community is the key to Livefyre's success: They didn't just build an application and give it to the people.

"Doing that little bit of extra outreach and getting to know your users, even if they're using your application for free, is what will take you further than your competitors," says the vice president of customer experience Jenna Langer.

They go out daily and find people using it and stay in touch with them. For instance, Langer was adamant that Livefyre responds to every tweet sent to them.

4. Hold onto your brand's authenticity. Livefyre's products have changed but their brand values have not: Everything still goes back to community engagement.

Related: Community and Other C-Words to Build a Business On

Now they're getting deeper in enterprise customers, they have to stay more focused than ever on staying true to their mission. "You have to interact differently with the enterprise customers, but you have to keep your authenticity," explains Langer. They're not going to change their style just because the big guys are buying from them now.

When all is said and done, they're a no BS, real company with authenticity as their basis. From their leader to their people to their community, they live the authentic brand of Livfyre.

Melanie Spring

Chief Inspiration Officer of Sisarina

As the Chief Inspiration Officer of Sisarina, a D.C.-based branding firm, Spring built her business with a strong content marketing strategy. With an innate sense for social media, connecting with her customers, and building a culture around her brand, she teaches businesses and non-profits how to rock their brand. She also recently toured the U.S. on the Live Your Brand Tour collecting stories from businesses living their brand.

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