Best Practices for Sidenotes

Turn every piece of every page on your site into a collaborative and interactive canvas.

Sidenotes offers a fresh, new perspective on comments, allowing your community to engage whilethey read. Our goal with Sidenotes is to encourage your users to generate thoughtful and focused conversation around your content. Whether your readers want to agree, disagree or pose a question, they can Sidenote any part of your article — a paragraph, a sentence, a quote, or an image. Sidenotes are subtly woven into your content so readers can participate and engage in conversation as they consume your content.

Elevate Quality Commentary

Many customers come to Livefyre asking how to increase the level of civil, meaningful discourse within their comments. We know that our customers want to encourage participation across the board without sacrificing quality. Sidenotes addresses this problem by inherently encouraging readers to leave thoughtful and focused comments on a specific sentence, paragraph or media element. This causes users to actually engage with your content, not just each other.

Increase Engagement

Since Sidenotes presents a new way of commenting, the product and design teams here at Livefyre did extensive user research while developing the product. During these sessions, we noticed that users tend to read articles along with their mouse. By tucking the Sidenotes icon underneath each paragraph on hover, the product offers a subtle but consistent call to action for users to chime in throughout their entire reading experience, increasing engagement and time spent on your site.

Expand Reach

Not only does Sidenotes offer a fresh perspective on commenting, but also on sharing content socially. When your readers highlight a piece of text, Sidenotes pops up a button for them to share your content directly to Twitter or Facebook with two clicks. This low friction experience increases your viral reach while giving your users a new way to easily engage with your content.

Enroll Your Community

Because Sidenotes introduces a potentially unfamiliar way of commenting, we encourage you to educate your community on how Sidenotes works and why it’s a valuable commentary tool. We recommend introducing Sidenotes to your community with a dedicated post and updating your community guidelines to incorporate best practices for leaving Sidenotes or comments.

Seed Sidenotes

Though we always encourage your staff to participate in the conversation, Sidenotes provides a particularly compelling way for your team to engage. We recommend having the post author seed the conversation by leaving a Sidenote directly after publishing. It’s an easy way to provide a prompt for the discussion around a segment that the journalist feels is especially interesting or controversial. It also ensures that readers who land on the page will see at least one Sidenote, which will grab their attention and encourage them to engage.

Use Sidenotes along with Comments

Some customers ask us whether they need to choose between Sidenotes and Comments, so it’s worth noting that Sidenotes is designed as a complement to the below-the-article comments experience. The traditional comments section still provides great value by giving users a single immersive place to discuss the entire article, encouraging back and forth conversations with multiple levels of threading and expanded media.

Get Creative

Sidenotes has many interesting use cases outside of a traditional article page. Lists, transcripts, lyrics, recipes and slideshows are all great opportunities to incorporate Sidenotes. Also, if you are publishing content such as playoff teams or award nominees, Sidenotes allows your users to have micro conversations on each line.

Universal Music Group artist Darius Rucker uses Sidenotes to allow users to leave comments on his lyrics, allowing fans to have a specific conversation about each line of the song.

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