Filter the Flood: How to Curate the Social Web with Storify

information hydrant
Photo by Will Lion

To consume all of the data published online over the next year, you would have to watch TV for 125 million years straight. Clearly, the ability to filter the din is critical if we want to craft compelling stories for our readers and followers. In response, co-founders Burt Herman and Xavier Damman launched Storify—a new social reporting tool in beta for professional and citizen journalists. Storify lets you create a digital narrative from the deluge of posts, photos, videos and links uploaded to the web every second.

“We’re flooded with Tweets, YouTube videos, Flickr photos and everything else. Everyone can be a “reporter”…But not everyone is a “journalist”—making sense of an issue and giving the context. So we built a system to help people do this, take the best of social media and make it into a story—to “storify” it,” explained Herman in an interview with Robert Hernandez.

I discovered Storify earlier this year at a retreat where a participant used the event hashtag to pull together the most relevant tweets, photos and slides. Soon, I had registered to gain access to the service and created my own story.

How Storify Works

Click the screenshots to see a product walkthrough.

Home Page

Storify Home Page

New Story
New Story
To start, click "New Story."
Create Story
Editing Screen
Drag and drop to create your story.
Edit Story
Editing
Refining your story.
Publish Story
Publish Story
Publish your story and start promoting to drive traffic.

Pros

  • Protect Your Sources: Storify maintains links to the original source so attribution is easy and transparent—precisely what you’d expect of Herman, a former foreign correspondent who worked for the Associated Press for 12 years.
  • Interactive: Videos remain playable and links stay “active” so that stories are layered and enriched by multimedia.
  • Drag ‘n’ Drop Navigation: Editing a story is as easy as dragging and dropping elements into place.
  • Embeddable: Once a story is published, you can tweet, email or embed the link in your blog/website. When one of the YouTube videos “broke” in my story, it was a snap to fix and have the correction picked up automatically everywhere it was embedded.

Cons

  • “Spammy” Notifications: While it’s important to notify folks when you’ve included their content in your story, Storify sets up a separate tweet for every notification. Depending on your number of sources, this could mean a high volume of tweets—which will read like spam in your timeline. I’ve turned this feature off but then I’m left manually trying to notify folks.

I love Storify—this tool makes it easy for anyone to quickly get started curating content of value to their audience.

What are the stories you need to be telling your audience? Request an invite to join the private beta and start testing Storify now.

Be Your Own Editor in Chief with Paper.li

A recent post on paper.li’s blog has led me to revisit my original review to amend and expand my analysis of this free tool that lets each of us become the “editor in chief” of our own online newspaper aggregated from our Twitter or Facebook feed.

Five Types of Papers

When I first wrote about paper.li, I griped about the lack of granular control in terms of the contributors who I could include, exclude or highlight. But in her post, Kelly at paper.li clarified the five kinds of papers that users can generate—some of which provide a much defter ability to control the list of contributors and/or focus of each publication.

Paper.li: Creation Page

1. Your @Twitter account – composed of links and articles that either you or your followers have shared
Minimal control

2. #tag – tweets across all public timelines filtered by hashtag
Minimal control + you don’t “own” the paper since hashtags are “public domain” in the social sphere

3. @list – based on a public, user-based list you curate
Maximum control over contributors

4. Custom – Mix and match the other paper types or create a custom query
Maximum flexibility over contributors and/or focus

5. Facebook – draws on all public posts
In beta testing

Collecting vs. Reporting

Different types of papers provide varying levels of control. Still, you won’t be able to hand pick your top stories and contributors or comment on individual links.

But if you want that level of influence over what goes into your paper, then you should consider alternatives like Storify. (See mine here)

Paper.li is a dependable tool for aggregating content from Twitter of Facebook. But Storify is a social reporting tool that allows you to comment on every individual tweet, photo, video or link you use to build a story.

Your choice will depend on the level of effort and time you have to invest in the output. With paper.li, you essentially “set it and forget it” so it’s easy to jump in and start a paper. But minimal effort means minimal opportunity to add value to your audience.

But if you’ve done a good job of setting up the paper, then you can build authority over time—daily in fact if that’s how often you want to publish. Then, use more in-depth services like Storify periodically to enrich your followers’ experience.

My final word: paper.li is a formidable player in the field of aggregation that can be used in combination with curation tools like Storify to build credibility through sharing.

Are you ready to start your own paper.li daily?

It’s the Story, Stupid: Content Marketing

I’m back home after spending a couple of days at a content marketing retreat on Whidbey Island hosted by the Langley Center for New Media.

Storytelling was the kernel in every presenter’s session—from the mechanics and psychology of storytelling to measuring its impact. Forget key messages and feature-benefit adspeak—it’s about the story, stupid.

For a pithy round-up of key ideas, see Kathy Hanbury’s blog post 28 Content Marketing Tips from the Content Marketing Masters. Or take a look at Drew Davis’s adept curation of the retreat’s key tweets, presentations and pix via Storify.

Storify screen shot
Screen shot of Storify created by Drew Davis

I peeked over Drew’s shoulder a few times while he assembled the page on Storify. “Note to self,” I thought, “look up this tool.” So when I came home, I read Storify Wants to Pull Stories from the Stream, a review on GigaOM.

Funnily, I think Storify neatly captures the mood of the retreat and our hyper-focus on storytelling. “Turn what people post on social media into compelling stories,” reads the tagline on Storify’s homepage.

Co-founder Burt Herman adds, “We’re coming at it from the point of view of story-telling — it’s about creating a really rich experience about an event. There are all of these real-time updates, so many that we are drowning in them. This is about finding relevance in the noise.” (Source: GigaOM)

Aggregating, curating and creating content are top of mind for many professionals these days. For me, Storify is emblematic of the zeitgeist, a reflection of how journalists (and marketers) are re-inventing how we tell stories in a digital age.

So are you a believer or is this just a new round of gurus, books and webcasts?