While Tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook generate buzz, LiveJournal has been quietly steaming along for 13 years. The service is the ultimate combination of blog and social media, connecting folks with like interests with easy friending tools and communities.
And though it may seem like blogging is on the way out, LiveJournal is looking to pump up the volume with the concept of super communities.
LiveJournal General Manager Anjelika Petrochenko talked with me about the future of the service and how it could become the next big thing for any one marketing content.
CB: Can you talk a little about blogging’s place in social media. It seemed like it was headed out but now is experiencing a resurgence.
AP: Blogging is and always has been a popular part of LiveJournal. While most of the newer social networks allow people to simply declare what they have done, what they are doing or what they know, LiveJournal’s provides a platform that allows for real thought and deeply involved conversation. Additionally, blogs are often the foundation of communities, which are built around common shared interests. Currently, LiveJournal U.S. has almost 50,000 active communities.
CB: What’s the advantage of creating a blog at LiveJournal over any other site or a standalone blog?
AP: LiveJournal is a social network. Although LiveJournal gives its users a blogging platform, it also offers a place for its members to friend others, share ideas, create content, express themselves, chat with those with similar interests, promote beliefs, post ideas, comment on issues, etc. Consequently, the advantage of joining LiveJournal is that you are actually joining an entire social network made up of 30 million members, which encourages users to create their own community around specific interests.
One important differentiators to mention is that LiveJournal does not require members to reveal their identities. Anonymity is allowed and often encouraged. We have observed that the ability to be anonymous allows people to discuss things they might not normally discuss in real life and on sites that require users to reveal their identities. This is why we think LiveJournal communities, which are built around personal topics like politics, LGBT and similar subjects are thriving. There is no such thing as TMI on LiveJournal.
CB: Mobile is a big trend. What is LiveJournal doing to capture this audience?
AP: Mobile is a big area of growth for LiveJournal in the 2012. LiveJournal already has a companion app for iPhone and Android phones that allows posting and other features, but we know there’s so much more we can and should do – and we are doing it, with more to come in 2012.
CB: I recently wrote a piece on the LiveJournal stores that are popular in Asia. Why do you suppose that took off there and not here. Is that an option here in the US, sort of Etsy for LiveJournal?
AP: It is a testament to LiveJournal’s versatility that it can accommodate almost any trend. “Blogshops” are a growing popular trend in Asia, especially in Singapore, where LiveJournal organically took hold for this trend. It is often a matter of filling a natural niche – in the U.S. there are many e-commerce options, including sites like eBay and Etsy. We should be clear that the blogshops on LiveJournal Singapore are selling their wares, but LiveJournal is not an e-commerce platform. Blogshops are, of course, more than welcome to start in the U.S., but here there are other options.
CB: What types of communities fit best at LiveJournal?
AP: On LiveJournal, there is a community for almost any subject. However, we have found that the “best fits” are communities that are lively, active and interesting. The most popular communities on LiveJournal tend to be more focused on areas of entertainment and personal advice such as parenting, but a quick search of communities related to your own interests reveals many choices.
CB: I’m a TV fan and use LiveJournal a lot, but I don’t think of it as a place for media. What kinds of things are you doing to help these “super communities” become more significant.
AP: LiveJournal is a treasure trove of 13 years worth of user-generated content. Most of it is extremely compelling and insightful, and could have greater impact if it has a wider audience. Thus far, LiveJournal has done a good job of helping curate and facilitate the discovery of great communities. But, many LiveJournal communities are analogous to media sites – they are active, interesting, informational, have strong membership and want to grow. These are the sites that we have been identifying as “super communities” and we have developed a new program that allows them to be more easily discovered and to grow even more.
ONTD is the best example of what a LiveJournal super community is and can become. As LiveJournal’s largest community, ONTD (Oh No They Didn’t) is a place where members share celebrity gossip. It is treated almost like a media site, though the “editorial staff” remains LiveJournal users who create the content posted in the community. Other communities that are being invited to be a part of the initiative are not new communities; rather, they are existing communities that LiveJournal has reached out to, offering a custom design, special features and widgets, and promotional/marketing help. Essentially, these are voices that want to be heard by more people and we are facilitating this.
Have you ever considered using LiveJournal for business? We’d like to hear about it.