Late last year I wrote about how Flipboard would be the new killer social media app. With all the noise coming from our disconnected social media sites, there is a need for innovation to help us curate this content and make sense out of the people and posts that fill our newsfeeds. The noise is only getting louder. Did you know that 1 in every 13 people on Earth is on Facebook and in the next 20 minutes, 1 million links will be shared on the site. Search may be mature, but content discovery is just emerging.
Since that post, Flipboard became Apple’s iPad App of the Year and new updates improved the display quality, app speed and photo stream integration. Flipboard has taken a big investment so they can evolve the app, attract advertisers and even prepare for a rumored “Flipboard killer” from Google.
Several new apps are also emerging with somewhat different approaches to the curation competition.
The newest is News.me. News.me, created with help from the NY Times, aggregates links from people you follow on Twitter and from the people they follow. With News.me you get 2 generations of social sharing so you can see who and what is influencing the people that influence you. As you would expect from a newspaper product, professional content and news wires are available a featured content. They charge users $0.99 a week (or $35 per year) for the app, but what’s interesting is that they distribute payments to the publishers based on the content that was viewed. News.me has a magazine-like layout, but is in its early stages and the app doesn’t have the slick interface of a Flipboard.
Also launched in the past couple weeks is Zite. Zite imports your Google reader and Twitter and builds a table of contents for your content. Content is displayed like a magazine, but what makes Zite unique is that it learns what you like based on what articles you touch and how long you spend with them. The content you see is automatically personalized so it becomes more relevant over time. Zite seems to work best for more experienced social media users who can start with a large base of feeds and followers.
Trove, from the Washington Post, is based much more on Facebook. When you connect your account, your history of “likes” helps Trove develop channels based on your interests. On the site, you can scroll through a Channel Finder to add content or you can create a custom channel on any topic. Content comes from about 10,000 professional and blog sources. Trove is free and it already has a section of recommended channels sponsored by Ford. Trove is much more of a web tool, but apps are being rolled out for the iPad and each of the mobile platforms. The user experience is distinctly web and nothing like the magazine style that the others are creating. They have an interesting introduction video, but it’s not in English. (seems odd for something from the Washington Post)
It seems like the next evolution of these tools will be driven by monetization. The introduction of advertising content on Flipboard my change some of what people love about the experience now. Trove is already running display ads, but the ads just make the whole thing feel like another website. News.me’s content compensation model is going to attract a lot of interest from publishers, but will enough people pay for this to scale?
The bottom line for marketers is that these tools are important to the future of the social media. Here are three things to keep in mind:
- Social media noise is increasing and it is competing with the quality and meaningful posts about your company. These tools make is easier for quality content to stand out, get noticed and shared.
- Discovery in social magazines is an entirely new experience. Content is more organized along topic themes so the posts, videos and photos created by your advocates will appear in relevant and logical places. Someone can find everything they need from brands, journalists and other shoppers in one place.
- These tools bring back the importance of design. The illustrations, graphical styles and branding elements that RSS stripped out are an important part of the entire experience. In fact, they can really make you shine in this type of magazine format.