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Case studies Interview with Guillaume Decugis (Scoop.it)

scoopit

Scoop.it is an amazing tool to create online magazines and curate social content. After a few months in beta status, the platform has been launched publicly on November 3rd - with significant success. We have chatted about the project - and other stuff - with the CEO & co-founder Guilliame Decugis.

1. Basically, Scoop.it allows everyone to create a magazine – to be a publisher. And from this point of view it's great, because it's indeed extremely simple to use. But my question is: to what kind of reader does it point? Is it just a technical tool to put contents together or is the internal community of other “scoopers” to be the real key?

Both. Our vision from the start was to help people express themselves and thus find their audience in the Web noise of today. Initially, Scoop.it started being used as an easy-to-use way to find an audience of readers through the following mechanism:

- by inspiring them to publish more relevant content and more frequently: Scoop.it’s suggestion engine assists curators in their quest for the Web’s gems;

- by providing a topic-centric curation layer to the content they publish: instead of a timeline of random links, they form an online magazine that is more engaging to read for an audience;

- by being indexed in Search engines allowing content to be found much longer after it was shared and published.

By publishing and sharing frequently relevant content, Scoop.it curators attract and develop people that can easily identify and follow a curator’s expertise or passions.

But Scoop.it also grew into a community of curators, leveraging the social features of the platform such as the ability to follow a topic, to rescoop content from one topic to another, to thank a curator, to search for a topic, etc... While initially, Scoop.it traffic only came from referral sites such as Facebook, Twitter or other social platforms where curators where sharing, we’ve progressively seen first Search traffic grow and now internal Scoop.it traffic coming from the community of Scoop.it users.

The advanced Analytics we’ve introduced recently allow you to track that and here’s for instance how it splits on one of my topics:

topic_source_scoop 

2. In your opinion, Scoop.it tends naturally to substitute other publishing platforms – like blogs in general – or to integrate them, offering a new kind of service?

We’re not seeing ourselves as competing with blogging, which should be first and foremost about creating content while we focus on curating content. We think both complement one another and we’ve thus naturally built integration with blog platforms such as WordPress or Tumblr.

The way our top users and ourselves think about Scoop.it is more as a "Hub" that feeds your social media presence, be it Facebook, Facebook pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + or even blog platforms.

3. The classic version of Scoop.it is free, while the business one charges 79$/month. Are you having a good response with the latter? Is it a sustainable business model?

Yes. We’re very thrilled about the traction Scoop.it Business is getting. We designed it as the perfect solution for small and mid-sized companies to manage their social media publishing activities and develop a content marketing strategy on Social Media in a very efficient way. It was actually them asking us throughout the beta to develop such a model, which pushed us to launch it.

Since our launch, we're also hearing other users being very interested by some of the premium features and asking for in-between versions with some of these features at some intermediary price. It’s the classic segmenting marketing strategy that many tech companies have implemented successfully. And it could make a lot of sense so, even though we haven’t decided anything yet, we’re carefully listening and studying to our users feedbacks and behaviors on this.

4. Are you thinking to implement some form of advertising on your platform?

Maybe. Nothing decided yet but as we continue to grow at a significant rate of 35%/month and now have more than 2 million visits per month, this could make sense. We also see it as an opportunity for some of our curators to make money out of their curation work: not all of them have this objective, but some do and we’re discussing with them to understand what it would mean.

5. Now a broader one. With the spread of social curation instruments – like yours, or Zite, Storify etc. – how will the consumption of content will change? Will it continue to be more and more bottom-up, filtered and associated by users?

If you look at media consumption over time, it moved from one-to-many (in the old offline days before the Web) to several-to-many and now many-to-many with Web 2.0. The problem is that many-to-many creates information overload if you don’t have the right filters as observers like Clay Shirky have shown. Because the Web is built by engineers (no offense intended: I’m one of them ;-), the first response to that problem was algorithmic: we’ve seen and keep seeing the development of algorithms that are built around the promise to offer you more content “that you might like” (based on what you liked before).

But as another observer, Eli Pariser, explained, this created a filter bubble as you end up not being challenged by content you wouldn’t necessary like but that would help you develop new perspectives and maybe change your visions of things and your preferences. Our belief is that the real answer to that problem resides in topic-centric social curation where the necessary selection, organization and contextualization of content is done by human beings.

Algorithms can assist – as our suggestion engine does in Scoop.it – but at the end of the day, we need to let human-to-human interactions prevail: do I want to publish this piece to my readers and how? Do I want to follow this topic based on what I read and see? That’s what social curation is and how it will change publishing.

6. And finally: how Scoop.it could help professional journalists?

We already have a number of journalists using Scoop.it and we think it can help them by enriching the stories they right with other stories from other sources on similar topics. When attention is short, it is not about where you end but where you start. Some media like the Huffington Post have understood that and built a new media model around aggregation and curation. Some has criticized them and ethics are vital for the sustainability of the model but it certainly is a benefit to readers to provide different perspectives on a topic by mixing one’s own with curated pieces.

[23/11/2011]

 

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