From Melting Snow to Snowball Effect

A few weeks ago, we received a desperate email. It was expressing a frustration: in spite of loving Scoop.it and posting regularly to the several topics she had created, U. felt the number of followers of her topics was still quite small.

The email surprised us and made us sad because if you’ve been following us a bit, the core reason we built Scoop.it is to help people being heard on the Web. And ever since we launched the private beta, we had only heard great feedback confirming that. We had people telling us Scoop.it helped them “tweet better”, get “retweeted more” or even get more followers on Twitter, etc…

So we looked at U’s case.

It’s true that, except on Facebook or LinkedIn, where you immediately connect with a number of people you met IRL, most social media platforms start with the same question: ”ok so I get what this is about but how do I reach people now?” And U seemed to have this question too on Scoop.it. But then we realized something else: the number of unique visitors who had read U’s topics was actually much much better. And at a significant level. But she probably didn’t see that because for some reason, we had buried this number on the topic page while it was the most visible one on the profile page; clearly a design error on our end now that we look at it.

This number of unique visitors is very important to us because we feel that’s the true nature of one’s audience. I love having followers on Twitter but I still have very little idea of how many see or read my tweets. I’ve used analytics tools and I now know for sure that only a very small fraction actually click on my links. So on Twitter, your “true reach” (as Klout defines it) is much lower than your number of followers.

But on Scoop.it, we found it’s just the opposite. All the topics we looked at had the same pattern: more visitors than followers.

Why?

At TheNextWeb conference a few weeks ago, we heard Steve Rubel describe they way content was such short-lived on the Web today. He said content “was like wet snow, melting as soon as it hits the ground”. I think that’s very true and it echoes the very reasons we decided to create scoop.it. The story goes this way: you feel excited by content you discover on the Web. An inspiring article, a fascinating story, a hilarious video… So you want to share that gem with the world and feel convinced you’ll get massively retweeted, replied, etc… And more often than not, you’re disappointed. Why? Because, as everyone competes on the same channel, a lot of tweets don’t get the attention they would probably deserve from a specifically targeted audience. So your gem is washed away in twitter timelines and melts like wet snow hitting the ground.

But on Scoop.it, our goal was to create a place where we could save these gems from being irremediably lost. A place where content that deserves it would shine longer and in a different light than the real-time Web’s. A light given by the twist of a human being in the form of a comment, a witty title or a cool picture. Importantly, it had to be a beautiful place, where content would look good. But also a friendly place for that content where it could stay alongside related content in a topic-centric area, making it more likely to be discovered and re-discovered. That’s what we wanted Scoop.it to be.

The resulting effect is that great content is easily published, shared and consumed but also that – by a ricochet effect – other great content gets discovered as they show alongside on a topic page. While most discover Scoop.it content through Twitter, our data shows that a lot of users browse Scoop.it pages and read not just the link they originally wanted but a number of other related links on that topic. The other benefit we’ve seen of the Twitter + Scoop.it combo is that it’s easier to assess the editorial line and interests of someone. If I only have the short Twitter bio and the timeline, it’s sometimes really hard to decide between “should I follow?” or “will I get spammed by a Twitter machine?”. But when you see links pointing to a nicely curated Scoop.it page, you realize whether your interests match and it becomes easier.

As you probably saw, the Visitor counter now consistently shows as the primary data across Scoop.it. We heard great feedback about this as some other users than U hadn’t realized they had such a large audience. Of course, we have still much to do to improve topic discovery (coming…) but we felt it was a story worth sharing. Oh and we also came across one of U’s topic recently. Guess where? In the trending topics. Here’s her audience:

Forget melting snow. Now you have a snowball effect at work.

About Guillaume Decugis

Co-Founder & CEO of Scoopit. Entrepreneur (Musiwave, Goojet). Skier. Gamer. Blogging without blogging here: http://scoop.it/u/gdecugis