For the past month and a half, I’ve been a beta user of Scoop.it, a free curation platform that allows account holders to create a personal website of Internet content devoted to a specific topic. As the video tutorial at the end of this post suggests, Scoop.it is an alternative to full on blogging, which requires time, skills and expertise. The platform is also different from news aggregation sites because of an editorial layer that allows curators to include comments, quotes, pictures and videos with article postings. The end result is a newspaper-like layout that is easy to read, navigate, and share to Twitter and Facebook.
I began my adventures on Scoop.it by creating one topic of personal interest: books. Over the course of six weeks, I created five more personal topics, including one that features social media tips and another that features opinions at the extremes of the mainstream. Additionally, I opened an account for the company I represent. Now that I’m quite familiar with Scoop.it, I’m convinced that it’s an applicable platform for professionals (e.g., journalists, teachers, marketers), as well as individuals.
Let’s start with the beauty of Scoop.it from an individual perspective. As I mentioned, the first topic I created, “Read Ye, Read Ye,” is based on my lifelong love of books. When I’m not reading a book, an activity typically reserved for nighttime, I’m talking and reading articles about books. My curation approach on Read Ye, Read Ye varies: some posts are written entirely by me and displayed with a relevant graphic I find on the Internet; other posts include a link to an article with the accompanying photo or logo displayed and an excerpt/summary in quotes; and a smattering of posts simply feature a link to an article, its headline, and a graphic. Since my Twitter and Facebook accounts are linked to Scoop.it, I have the option of publishing any of my posts to those social networks. Here’s my book curation site as it appears to readers:
Several tools make it easy and fun to manage topics on Scoop.it:
- Finding content is never a problem with the “Suggested Topics” feature, a list of potential posts based on keywords, websites, Twitter users/lists, and/or RSS feeds selected by the curator.
- Anyone can read articles (both the original and the curator’s post), follow a topic, comment on a post, add an RSS feed, and suggest articles (which the curator can accept or decline to publish) — without needing to create a Scoop.it account. Those who follow a topic receive a once daily email summary of the articles recently published.
- Curators can assess the readership of their topics through real-time statistics.
- A bookmarklet tool that resides on the browser toolbar makes it convenient to quickly add content that is discovered while surfing the Internet. A mobile version of the bookmarklet is also available.
- Curators can customize topic pages by color, images, icons or templates.
While I can’t take credit for most of my posted, or “scooped” articles, nor the design and layout of my Scoop.it pages, I still nonetheless find my curated creations endlessly gratifying. After all, I am responsible for finding the best, most relevant information (in an otherwise data-overloaded social Internet age) on a subject matter I and my readers are passionate about.
Now, onto the business applicability and potential of Scoop.it. Currently, there aren’t many brands or companies currently using the platform, but I’m betting this will change significantly once Scoop.it is no longer in beta and launches officially to the general public. Why? Because Scoop.it is a simple and well-designed platform where industry experts can showcase their knowledge, dispense advice, and share data – all without having to build and maintain a website. Here are some potential scenarios:
- You’re a financial advisor. To attract and build a customer base, you curate a page about “Investment Data and Trends.” Your posts might be a combination of those you’ve written yourself, as well as articles written by others and vetted by you as potentially helpful to your audience. All the information on your page, which has been skillfully curated by you is a public display of your expertise, thereby making your more credible to potential customers who may pay for your financial advice.
- You teach an online class in which you encourage online interactions among your students in lieu of in-person class discussions. You create a Scoop.it page where you post problem sets, articles for required reading, and instructional videos. Students can post answers to problem sets, ask questions, suggest relevant articles, and compete in online trivia questions.
- You run a company with limited marketing resources but it’s important to the business that you have a blog. Your blog can be your Scoop.it page: it can be re-skinned in your brand’s design palette, and the url can be a re-directed sub-domain within your website’s domain name. Now you can simply post articles relevant to your business and when you have time, you can also write your own articles about product/service announcements or troubleshooting tips.
Recently, I met with the two leaders of the Scoop.it team: CEO Guillaume Decugis and President Marc Rougier. The Silicon Valley veterans said that the company’s current focus includes:
- The mobile experience – Scoop.it, on-the-go!
- The interest graph — highly relevant, highly personalized content and connections.
- The premium platform – a paid option for businesses that includes customization, detailed analytics, url re-direct, and API access. The premium platform will also be ad-free, whereas the free one will feature ads.
As both Scoop.it executives explained, these focus points were largely guided by user feedback.
I’m constantly testing out different social media solutions, and Scoop.it is a standout. The platform has great potential as a business tool; and for personal curation, it’s an indulgent experience. I’m excited to watch this company grow.
Scoop.it is still in beta, but you can apply for an invite through the site or you leave a comment letting me know you want to score an account (while supplies last).