A review of content marketing software Scoop.it
Content curation is among the hottest topics in content marketing. It can be used for many purposes and the same applies to many of the content curation platforms. Scoop.it is an example of such a content marketing software for content curation. It can be used for business purposes and for private use so this hybrid content curation platform really is…what you make of it.
We use Scoop.it ourselves for our curated content marketing updates. Obviously, given the fact that this site is about content marketing and Scoop.it is all about content curation, it makes sense for us to use curation (we put practice before preach and don’t talk about things we haven’t tested or done, this goes for strategic content marketing advice as well).
If you want to intensively use content curation for large projects, branding purposes or in an integrated content marketing strategy, you will probably look at other platforms. However, Scoop.it offers far more than many people think and can be used for different reasons, including some you may not have cosidered yet. An overview.
First of all, let me remind you that – in our view – content curation cannot be the basis of a content strategy as we read a few times nor an excuse to not create the content your business goals and prospects/buyers need. But that has nothing to do with content curation tools.
Scoop.it is without any doubt one of the most popular content curation tools. Initially launched for ‘consumers’, since quite some time it now also targets professionals and businesses. We have even seen it used as a blog of some smaller businesses. Just look at the business news blog of RingCentral (note; this is not the main blog of this company, it’s the business news section) or the blog of Healthcare Mobile (entirely made using Scoop.it). In these cases, you need a paying version of Scoop.it and a customized look and feel. I leave the question whether a blog with (only) curated content is a good idea or not in the middle. Notice the differences in the above mentioned cases.
Scoop.it as a content sourcing and filtering tool: beyond a Google Reader alternative
But here is why I think Scoop.it is a content curation platform businesses and individuals should look at. A first very important reason is content sourcing.
We all know there is a lot of noise out there and if it depends on some pundits there will be increasingly more noise so it can be hard to find, aggregate and filter good content sources. Many people used Google Reader to source and aggregate content until Google said it would stop Reader. Although there are other good RSS and sourcing tools such as Feedly, you may want to consider Scoop.it too.
Why? For starters, Scoop.it has a free version and signing up is the easiest thing in the world. Although Scoop.it is about content curation, the – also – hybrid (social, RSS, search) sourcing dimension is a strong reason to sign up (and there are other reasons). As you can see in the screenshot below, you can define a topic and provide some keywords for your Scoop.it topic or as I call it “board”. In this case we took “Unified Communications and Collaboration” as an example and added different related keywords. Scoop.it then immediately shows you a list of suggested content in your own language (you can change the language settings for each “topic” or board you create). However, it will also enable you immediately to add other sources you want to follow for that given topic.
The types and numbers of sources you can add are simply amazing for a platform with a free version:
- RSS feeds.
- Twitter users, Twitter searches, Twitter lists, etc. (Twitter is one of the most underestimated content sources and still underused by lots of people)
- SlideShare channels.
- Facebook Pages.
In other words you have full control about what you see on top of all the content Scoop.it will propose to you coming from other users, its’ own searches based on among other the keywords you provided.
That as such is already something powerful and I even haven’t talked about actual content curation yet. As far as I’m concerned, Scoop.it is a perfect alternative for all those Google Reader fans.
However, I’m a bit surprised to see that – according to Alexa – over the last 6 months Scoop.it traffic has been slightly dropping but that could also be because more people use the custom domain possibility. Has Feedly won the battle for the Google Reader user? I think the graphic below says enough. But it doesn’t mean that Scoop.it can gain more users over. And, after all, it’s not the core purpose of Scoop.it. It’s just my going on about the sourcing possibilities.
How Scoop.it works
If you can add so many sources, doesn’t the danger exist you will be drowned by suggested content about the specific topic you picked? Sure. But that’s why you can delete the topics Scoop.it proposes you and – more importantly – filter all suggestions based on source type.
Adding something to your “board” is easy as well. Just click the green “Scoop.it!” button, add some context if you want (as a “real curator” you should) and done.
In the example below we added this as a comment: “True: it’s not just about the technology but most of all about making it easy for people to collaborate.”
Adding a comment is already an invitation for other people to find you, connect and even debate as Scoop.it is in a sense also a social platform and network.
Once you have added a piece of content to your board – or more – this is how it looks. Even in the free version you can customize that look quite a bit, mainly from a graphical look and feel.
Another way to add content to your Scoop.it board (or one of the boards you have as you can create several ones) is by using the Scoop.it bookmarklet which you can simply add to the toolbar of your browser and which allows you to add content from anywhere on the Web while you’re browsing. When adding a blog post this way, Scoop.it will ask you if you want to add the RSS feed of the source to your list of sources for suggested content, thus again enabling you to further improve and broaden your own content sourcing machine. These possibilities all make me wonder if the future is for personal aggregation, sourcing and curation tools such as Scoop.it that enable strong personalization if you compare them with a platform such as Zite. It also makes me wonder about the evolutions of search and social in times where people can build their own toolset.
By the way: if you are adding content to your Scoop.it board from within the Scoop.it dashboard you can click the suggested content to read it first. You don’t want to add content based on a title and some sentences alone. After a while you’ll start to know the good sources but also other Scoop.it users that are interested in the content you are interested in.
The main navigation on top of your Scoop.it board allows you to manage the look and feel, shows you the number of views so far, enables you to filter your content, permits sharing and provides a link to the RSS feed of your board. That RSS feed can then be added to other places, for instance a widget on your blog, a social property, etc.
The social content dimension: community, social sourcing and social sharing
The social dimension is quite interesting as well. In the main navigation (not on a board level but overall, in the upper-right corner) there is an email icon which shows you updates about your board. These emails also are sent to your email address but you can define what you get.
Approximately 2 minutes after having created the Unified Communications and Collaboration board, it had a first follower. Checking out the profile of followers, you can follow them or one of their boards if they’re relevant for the topics you’re interested in (and your “audiences” are interested in). Furthermore, as Scoop.it allows you to connect with social profiles such as Twitter you can also connect with people via other social channels if you want.
The main navigation further allows you to check out your other boards or topics and create new ones, and finally to manage your profile and account.
By using the search box you can discover other boards about your topic, using various keywords. By doing that you can also connect with the creators of those boards and their community, thus growing your community on Scoop.it and beyond.
When you visit other boards you can scoop interesting content onto your own board, again strengthening community. People will often thank you for sharing content via your board. You can also follow a board created by one of them if you deem it interesting. So, there are quite some community and networking opportunities.
Users and connections beyond Scoop.it
Obviously most of your prospects or target audiences aren’t using Scoop.it but make no mistake. We took a look at some boards regarding what is after all a rather focused and narrow topic (not at all mainstream) and their community. The profiles of some creators we checked out this way included a very social-savvy CEO of a communications consultancy who actively blogs and someone working for a large ICT company where he implements managed services to support corporate communications. If you’re not familiar with the topic of “Unified Communications and Collaboration”: that’s in the target group of potential ‘influencers’.
When checking out their communities we mainly found people that are very active in social, blog and even influential voices regarding the topic we created. You know what that means. Obviously, there aren’t thousands of boards regarding such narrow topics. Yet, that’s exactly an opportunity. Some boards were also started and then stopped after a while which is a shame as it’s really a good personal content sourcing and networking platform in one.
One hour after creating the board we had 3 followers. We only “scooped” 3 content items and hadn’t shared anything via Twitter, a blog or any other platform you can connect with Scoop.it.
These platforms are:
- A Facebook page
- A LinkedIn Group
- WordPress (you can indeed connect your blog).
- Buffer (and from there to other networks).
- Enterprise social collaboration tool Yammer.
You can also connect Scoop.it with MailChimp and others to send newsletters as we explained earlier.
Integrations and versions
Of course in the beginning it’s best to test how your followers and target audiences react once you start sharing Scoop.it content items as not everyone knows the platform or format. Or you can also ask or educate them, depending on the context.
If you have a Buffer account you can schedule your “scoops”. You can also do it using Scoop.it if you have a paying account. Buffer is interesting as it has quite some integrations with social and other apps.
Scoop.it has interesting integrations as well. A few of the apps and tools it integrates with: SlideShare, HootSuite, AddThis and, as said, MailChimp. For developers there is also an API.
With the free version of Scoop.it you can have up to 5 topics or boards. With the pro version, priced at $12.99 per month, you can have up to 10 topics but also export to different platforms an assign different social media accounts per topic. Or in other words: you could create several boards for several blogs or social profiles, for instance.
More importantly, however: you get Scoop.it’s own analytics and can add Google Analytics.
For us, the Business version is the most interesting. It comes at $79 per month and on top of extra topics and such the main benefit lies in the branding features, the possibility to collaborate with up to 5 curators per topic, the possibility to schedule scoops and the possibility to host it on your domain. As an example: we connected the domain http://contentcuration.contentmarketingexperience.com with one of our Scoop.it boards.
Business, marketing and personal benefits
Why would you want to use the Business version? Well, for us, the main reason is a degree of consistency, the fact we have multiple blogs and topics, collaboration, the possibility to add custom HTML (and thus buttons or links) and, finally the possibility to add links to the bottom of the board.
For the SEO people among you: these links are “followed”.
The two blogs I mentioned in the beginning are better examples of how far the customization can go than our board.
Scoop.it doesn’t allow you to add script but I’m sure that additional possibilities will be added. The recent addition of enterprise social network Yammer shows that Scoop.it keeps coming up with new things and again adds a social dimension, this time clearly in the enterprise and social business space, or better on the collaboration space, part of that “Unified Communications & Collaboration” topic.
I know I haven’t talked too much about the actual content curation as such, or rather about the dimension of providing context and such but the platform allows that too.
And while I’m not going to cover the value of content curation (read more about content curation here) and will not debate the benefits of other curation platforms that might be better suited for business purposes (that’ll be for later reviews) I can say this: Scoop.it can be used in many ways and it serves me perfectly. More importantly: the over 30,000 people following us on Twitter seem to like it. No one ever complained, follower count keeps growing and the content gets shared. Of course that’s partially due to the mission and topic of this site and it’s not exactly scientific proof (maybe people have unfollowed us too). Even if only 10,000 followers would turn out to be really interested in content marketing (and “real” to start with), to me that’s a sign.
But most of all, on top of the benefits I covered before here is - according to me – what makes Scoop.it a content curation platform to watch: the fact that it’s such a strong sourcing platform and that anyone can use it for free, with a social component, is the real power of Scoop.it. In theory it could suddenly pick up and become as popular as any other social platform we saw popping up in recent years (think Pinterest), even if Scoop.it is around since a while. You can scoop anything, including pins. But where most of those platforms often had to invent a revenue and business model after the launch, Scoop.it has it since it revamped the solution. And it’s called content marketing and curation.
Again, is this the best content curation platform for business? No. But I, for one, am very interested to see how its adoption will evolve. Is your target audience on Scoop.it today? I don’t know. Try it and follow how it evolves.
If you look for a Google Reader alternative and want something else than Feedly and whatnot: why not give it a try? Scoop.it has it all and much more. My two cents. In fact, if I had the money, I would bet big on them and advice them to go beyond their core mission, content curation, boost the user base, come with some consumer-oriented apps and continue to enhance the personalization options for businesses, even with a corporate-oriented version. But, then again, maybe doing too much is not the best strategy.
I’m a fan.
Before you consider buying content marketing software: read these tips to select a content marketing software and vendor.
Despite being a hybrid content curation platform, both for private and business use, we're very positive about Scoop.it. This content marketing software offers various possibilities and the way you use it can make it suited for more than just content curation. For a private user, for instance, Scoop.it might be the perfect alternative for Google Reader, offering much more. For organizations, it can be used for content curation, specific blog purposes or content sections. Although it's maybe not the "enterprise content curation software" most people will think of, the strategic approach of Scoop.it, with a high potential social reach and a clear focus on integrated content sourcing and curation, including social, make it a platform to keep watching and use. The existing features for businesses already offer quite some possibilities to support content marketing goals and the connection with social enterprise tool Yammer is more than interesting. Conclusion: even if it's more hybrid and less targeted on enterprise content curation, Scoop.it has a place in all sorts of organizations. And we don't see any reason not to start using the free version to filter the noise of the topics that interest you and combine the best of RSS feeds, social content sourcing and more. The possibility to add scripts (in a fourth, more expensive version?) would be nice.