Every business’s marketing objectives require awesome content. Whether you’re focused on building thought leadership, increasing brand awareness, boosting SEO, engaging with an audience, or generating leads, it’s no longer a question that content marketing is the answer.
Now, the question remains: how do we turn this into a simple, scalable process? You are a professional: you read a lot of content on social media and while browsing the web. Capturing and re-purposing what you discover and read is clever. This is the beginning of your content curation strategy – making use of what you’re already doing.
But as powerful as serendipity is, it’s not sufficient: an effective editorial line needs density, regularity, rhythm – you need relevant and rich content to feed your presence on many media (social media, sites, blogs, newsletters) throughout the day. Bottom line: you need predictability in your content sourcing in order to generate ROI. That’s why we created our suggestion engine: it browses the web for you, listens and watches for what is published and exchanged within your topics of choice, and suggests what’s relevant for you to curate. You draw two immediate benefits from it: first, you learn and find inspiration. Second, and most importantly, it helps you defeat the white page syndrome: at any given point in time, it offers you unlimited content for you to feed your editorial line, as and when you need it.
The suggestion engine may be only one part of Scoop.it; but it’s a key part. Recently, we ran a comprehensive survey amongst our users and asked them to share their concerns, needs, feedback and even hopes and dreams with us. It was an open conversation. Not surprisingly, the suggestion engine was one of the most debated subjects. Respondents confirmed that it was a great tool, acknowledging how crucial it has been for saving time and strengthening their publishing power. Some also said, though, that it was not always relevant enough, easy enough to read, or simple enough to tune. So we decided to roll out a new version of it, taking this feedback into account.
Here comes Scoop.it SSE: Smart Suggestion Engine.
What’s new compared to the previous version, and just how smart is it?
First, let’s take a look into the serious science happening under the hood. The suggestion engine browses 30+ million web pages every day, analyzing content from Google News, Google Blogs, RSS feeds, social media streams, articles, Slideshares, videos, photos, and more. It applies a set of semantic and statistical algorithms to analyze relevancy, based on the combination of key words and phrases you give it to define your topics.
It also employs our unique humanrithm approach: we take into account signals from our users, factoring in quality score and relevancy, to build an internal interest graph – linking content to content to people based on meaning – that helps us find and qualify content. Additionally, if, as a curator, you click more articles from one source than another, that source will appear more in your suggestions. If you consistently delete a specific type of article or media, you’ll begin seeing less of it. This may be a bit easier than landing a tiny probe on a block of ice hundreds of millions of miles away, but is serious science nonetheless. This machine learns.
Now, for the visible part. This part will change your experience so I’d love to introduce the major new elements. The concept here is to make it easier for you to assess the relevance of each piece of content and to tune the engine, so it begins to meet your needs more efficiently, immediately.
1. A new, leaner top menu bar that creates less distraction from content
(note: in order to save some real estate on your screen and once you’re done with your keywords, you can hide the keyword section by clicking on the gear icon or the “Hide” link on the right; re-open it by clicking on the gear icon again when you want to add, remove or adjust keywords)
From here, you can easily adjust and optimize your keywords! There are several ways to enter keywords, as explained if you click on the question mark at the right of the box, pictured above. Try to find a combination that works for you; be specific to avoid too much noise, but broad enough to have a sufficient amount content. This might require a bit of adjustment, depending on your preference, style and topic.
2. A new menu to filter and sort your suggestions
The classic “menu” icon (some call it the “burger” icon) on the left of your bar opens a menu that you can then close with the “>” icon. Here’s what appears when you click on the menu icon:
There are some interesting goodies in this menu:
You can now bookmark suggested content! By bookmarking a suggested content, you neither scoop it nor discard it, but you save it for later. That’s what you want to do when a potentially interesting suggestion comes up and you don’t have time to pay proper attention to it. Display only your bookmarked content when you have time to treat it.
You can also filter content based on its type: show only articles, only messages from social media, only pictures, etc. Sometimes you really need a picture; sometimes you really want to rule video out, so this helps you save time. Note that “document” encompasses SlideShares and other documents that can be uploaded such as PDF, Excel spreadsheet, etc.
User suggestions are any type of content that has been specifically suggested to you by another user – as opposed to the suggestion engine. This is possible, thanks to the collaborative dimension of Scoop.it, where you can share the curation mission with other curators or experts of your team, or even with your readers, if you so wish.
Finally, by popular demand, we implemented two ways to sort content: by relevance or by freshness. Indeed, some users prefer “deep” content, even if it’s old (or cold), while other need recent, hot news.
3. More ways to interact with suggested content
Until now, users had two options for any piece of suggested content: scoop it or discard it. There are now 4, but organized in such a way that they require no additional work or time.
Content can still be scooped or discarded in one click. It can also be bookmarked (saved for later) or, if you so desire, flagged as irrelevant (a stronger signal that will be sent back to our machine learning algorithm to better understand your need and qualify/disqualify sources).
4. Popularity indicator
We’re also integrating an at-a-glance “popularity” indicator. Let’s talk a little bit about how this works. This is a visual indicator of popularity. Some may feel that the more popular, the more relevant; and it makes sense: this is social proof. Others curate to find rare content, not to re-amplify something that’s already well spread; and this also makes sense. So we decided to give you direct access to the popularity of every piece of content, but we’ll still let you decide whether you prefer content that has already been shared a lot or not.
5. Advanced configuration (premium feature)
The philosophy of the SSE is the following: we use advanced algorithms and massive amounts of user signals to deliver unlimited, fresh and relevant content at no effort and no time cost to you. The SSE is your source of inspiration and your ultimate time saver.
But, there comes a time when your needs become more specific, more advanced. In this case, we’ve enabled the ability to open the hood: go to advanced mode and fine-tune your suggestions even further.
This section describes how you can optimize and personalize your suggestions in advanced mode.
The first option offered to you in advanced mode is to switch the SSE off altogether.
Some curators want to manage their sources manually and want to switch off the Smart Suggestion Engine. This might be the case when you know exactly what sources you want to listen to, and when you want to exclude every other possible source.
Because you are an expert in your domain and because you are active on the web, it’s very likely that you already have a collection of sources that you consider for your curation. This is the place to tell us that, and the suggestion engine will also listen to them. Sources of any type can be added (RSS, advanced searches on social media, explicit Twitter lists or Facebook pages, media sites such as Flickr, Youtube and more) and you can even import your own source structure via the OPML format if you’ve got a pre-set one on a news reading service. Content from your custom sources is delivered to you whether the SSE is switched on or off – it’s either integrated with the rest of our suggestions, or fully on its own if you so choose.
Once sources are added, you can further filter content coming form these sources by specifying combinations of keywords you want to be explicitly included in, or excluded from, any content coming from these sources-sources that you manually added, or SSE – the filters applies to both.
To help you track the performance of each source, the advanced mode also provides statistics for each of your content sources: number of suggestions received, number of scoops created, relative contribution to your topics, and more. This helps you truly become a content sourcing master.
And finally, because it continuously browses so many web pages and analyzes so many user signals, the SSE can occasionally stumble upon a content sources that it believes could be useful to you. In this case, it gently offers these sources and lets you decide if you want to add them or not.
All these features are optional: they are not necessary for you to find content but can help you optimize and personalize your experience. The proper combination of keywords, sources and filters ultimately leads to the perfect source of content. You’ll find that SSE is simple and really smart.
Suggested of content is a way to stay on top of content, to save time in the content discovery process. It’s been a keystone of Scoop.it since the inception of the platform 3 years ago. We’ve listened to you while trying to make it better and focused on the sometimes contradictory objective: being super simple – so the time saving promise is delivered – but being very personalized at the same time. This new release, our Smart Suggestion Engine, addresses this double objective. Content is king and the SSE is your faster way to access it. We hope you like the new algorithms and appreciate the new user experience.
And as usual: there will be more iterations, and your feedback is invaluable! Let us know what you think in the comments.