On January 13, I held a Google Hangout on Air with the CEO of Scoop.it, where I interviewed him about Scoop.it and the value of content curation this year. Below is the video and full transcript. It was a very insightful chat. Enjoy!
View the Google HOA here.
Content Curation Interview with Guillaume Decugis Transcript
Julia: Hello everyone, I’m Julia McCoy, the CEO of Express Writers, a copywriting agency. I have with me today the CEO of Scoop.it. Can I ask you to pronounce your name, if you don’t mind?
Guillaume: Sure, so hi everyone, I’m Guillaume Decugis.
Julia: Guillaume. Did I say that right?
Julia: Great! Awesome. So, to start this off, I just wanted to talk to you about your tool. I think it’s an excellent tool for content curation that is a huge need coming up this year. We’re just seeing so much content happen, and we need tools for content curation, to be able to sort this content, and to be able to share it. So, tell me a little about Scoop.it, how you built it, and how it helps businesses today.
Guillaume: Well, thanks for the praise. So Scoop.it was something we started and launched three years ago. We launched it because we realized that Web 2.0 was creating an opportunity and a pressure. The opportunity and the pressure is actually the same. The opportunity is we can become a media publisher, we can publish a lot of content. That’s what all those tools around Web 2.0 helped us do. It’s not just an opportunity, it became a pressure.
Now that everybody can publish content, if you do not, then you simply don’t exist.
Or if you publish bad content, you might hurt your brand. So we felt that pressure is going to be something that a lot of professionals, businesses, companies, big and small are going to have a tough time with. Because..
Not everybody is a content creator. It takes time, energy, talent, inspiration to create good content.
And so we felt a lot of people will be struggling with that. And there’s an alternative to create content, or complement. We like to talk about complement, which is content curation. We felt not everybody can become an awesome blogger, an awesome video producer. But, we believe that fundamentally all businesses, all professionals have expertise. When you’re good at what you’re doing, you’ve done that for a few years, you have expertise and you can apply that expertise to curate content, which means selecting great content that you feel is relevant to your field, and adding your own value, your own context: telling your audience why this was an awesome piece of content. And we felt that was much more accessible to professionals in general, and it is a great way to build your content strategy for your business. So that’s the background behind it.
Julia: That’s excellent! I agree with everything you said about getting content, and staying on the map with content. As you may or may not know, I developed some content strategizing products in our own company. We wanted to go beyond just creating content. So we looked into creating curation, and we were going to try to plan content, and show people how to find content. One of the tools I found was Scoop.it. I was so happy it was so simple to use, and I was researching maybe 20 different tools. Scoop.it was a key of how we find content.
How do you see it as answering a big need for curation coming up this year?
Guillaume: So, first of all, I love the fact you found Scoop.it simple, because that’s really I think the key to what we’ve been trying to do. We wanted to make it super simple.
Let’s clarify something: curation in itself is not simple. If you don’t have tools, it’s actually very complicated, and you can waste a lot of time trying to find great content.
You’ll have this experience of, like, I’ve been browsing the web for FOUR hours and I felt I achieved nothing. And so we felt we needed to combine a couple of things. First, a piece of technology that could automate your content monitoring. And let’s be clear: automation, we automate the discovery of content, we never automate publishing. So we empower our users to publish in their own name what they’ve selected, and we make it easy for them to find content instead of searching for it hours every day. In just a few minutes, you can have the most relevant content in your field, directly on your Scoop.it engine. So simplicity is at the core of what we’re trying to achieve.
I was asked by the Content Marketing Institute, what’s my prediction for 2015, and I think, you know, content marketing has been around for a few years. It’s maturing and it’s something that large companies have embraced. They’ve moved from traditional advertising, which is kind of old fashioned, to creating excellent content.
The company which I admire which is probably the pioneer of content marketing is Redbull. If you look at what Redbull has become, they’re not a soft drink company anymore. They’re a media company. They have this content pool with 50,000 pieces of content, they launched a man to space and broke the record of parachuting down to earth. They’ve done amazing stuff, they’ve done amazing content. But the thing is they’re a large company, and they’re making a bold bet of transforming their company into a media company. A lot of the small midsize companies have not been able to do this, because it takes resources, it takes a long term horizon that large companies have and small companies don’t have. So my prediction for 2015 was that content marketing is now going to become mainstream. It’s going to become something that millions of SMBs in the US or in the world are going to be able to embrace. And, I think curation is going to play a very important role there, because if you think of content marketing where a lot of people like to mix up creation and curation, and the large brands have resources. They can create a lot of content, they can have agencies work for them. But for more SMBs, they usually don’t have access to that, they usually don’t have a budget for that. So, curation is necessary for them to embrace content marketing, and that’s what we see coming in 2015, a lot of SMBs embracing content marketing through content creation and curation.
Julia: I totally agree with you. Everything you said is really insightful. I see that there is so much content on the web and it’s growing every day as you know, and it’s so important to curate and create to make your own mark.
Guillaume: Having a mix is really important. We’re not saying stop creating content; we’re saying if you have a day job, or if you’re not a natural born writer, it takes time and you should really focus on exceptional pieces of content. And we believe that curation forms creation. By curating you will spot the gaps in your field that nobody is writing about, like the things you’ve learned, you can tell. Instead of adding to the noise by creating another piece of content that’s already been written, you can use your curation abilities to say, I’ve shared some really good articles by other people, but nobody has been writing on that particular point, and I can share that and I can educate my audience. So, we’re strong believers in balance and there’s strong synergies in curation and creation.
Julia: Exactly. That’s something I’ve been blogging about in a few of my recent blogs, I talked about that exact idea.
Guillaume: Yeah, I love your blog posts by the way, I’ve curated a few of those already. Really good.
Julia: Now about blogging, I also wanted to ask you how businesses can use Scoop.it to publish their own content. Tell me more about that.
Guillaume: So our view is, the way we look at content and content strategy for businesses, we look at a couple of things. We think you should have a content hub, a place where all of your content, whether curated or created, can reside. A lot of businesses blog already, and if you have a blog you should make it your content hub. Scoop.it integrates with WordPress, or Tumblr, so it’s very easy to consolidate everything in something that already exists, like your blog. So we look at you should have a content hub, which is where you’re going to drive your audience to, which is going to be a place where people can see all of your content that defines you.
We like to say you are the content you publish.
Whether it’s created or curated, and you can organize that content the way you want. It’s also going to be a place whether you can drive SEO content, where people will be able to discover you from search, not just from your social channels. You will also be able to convert. You know, we’re doing content strategy, content marketing because we think it’s fundamentally good for your business, so it should be a way to drive and generate leads, and convert people to either subscribe, or buy, or drive a sale. And you have to have your own face to do this. It could be a WordPress blog, it could be another blog. And for those who don’t have a blog, we have a live publishing platform on Scoop.it so you can create pages with your created and curated content. You can use that as like a blogging platform.
So that’s one thing that’s your content hub; then you should think about all the distribution channels you could use, social media of course. Scoop.it is connected with all the social media channels, so in the same way you feed your blogs or your content hub on Scoop.it, you distribute that content to social media, to Facebook, LinkedIn, not just for files but for groups. We also integrate with the ability to create newsletters. Email has been under the radar for a few years because we say, ah, social media is the new way to distribute. We still believe that email is super important, super relevant, still in 2015. We integrate with Mailchimp to make it super easy to distribute by email. So, I like to think about creating a content hub wherever you feel affordable. But you should really own it. And with the premium version of Scoop.it, you can really make Scoop.it pages your own, you can really integrate with WordPress, and distribution channels which should be social, SEO, email, to name a few ones.
Julia: Wow, it sounds like a really thorough platform. We’ve been using it to find content, but I don’t think we’ve been using all the features of being able to publish. So, instead of a social media competitor, it sounds like really you’re your own content hub.
Guillaume: Yes. You know, again, I think it’s an evolution of Scoop.it which is evolving. We’re actually about to launch a new version of the platform.
Julia: Yes, tell me about that.
Guillaume: That platform is really going to be reaching all around the needs of SMEs. And I think, as Scoop.it grew we evolved from being a tool to becoming a solution. And what do I mean by that? Very quickly, Scoop.it started as a discovery tool. The first users of Scoop.it liked it, that they could discover content very rapidly, and then share that content to their social handles. Then we’ve added the ability to create content hubs, or view existing content hubs on WordPress. The solution people need is actually a combination of things. We think SMEs actually need a workflow. They don’t need just discovery, just distribution, just content hubs. They need a combination of that, of all things, and they need to be able to manage it. We have this new version coming in a couple of weeks, which is really about planning your content. Number one, having a calendar that gives you a full view of what is it you have plans for the next few days. Second, sourcing which is essentially the discovery part but enriched with a lot of admins features. So sourcing all of the content that feeds that planning, and then integrated with feeding a destination but also feeding distribution channels as we discussed, and also all of the analytics activity, did you get traffic, engagement, leads. So we’re packaging all of those things into a very neat solution that takes you through a content workflow with a 360 global approach.
Julia: Wow! So that’s really impressive. So that’s getting ready to launch next week?
Guillaume: Next week or the following week we’re getting ready. So in the next two weeks. Before the end of the month.
Julia: That’s a good goal! That sounds really great. So, thank you for your time and going through all of that. It’s really great to see all the features of Scoop.it and what it can bring just coming up this year, because content is going to be a monster. And this tool can help businesses get control of it, and just not be average with content. And, you know, just do better than your industry competitor. So do you see a lot of growth coming up, do you anticipate that this year?
Guillaume: Do I see a lot of what, sorry?
Guillaume: Oh yeah, absolutely. I think right now we’ve been seeing large companies embrace content marketing, and we’re used by large companies as well, as more and more are using collaborative features. We’ve been used by 1.5 million professionals primarily as a discovery social media tool, and so I think we’ve seen more and more SMBs embrace Scoop.it as part of everything. So we have been growing very fast, we’re closing our books and so I don’t know the final numbers yet, but we’ve been focusing on that for about 15 months now. We’ve grown in a year from 0 to 3,000 business and enterprise plans, and I think it’s going to accelerate throughout the year. I see a lot of, the story that you just told, businesses are now embracing content, they’re realizing it’s not just talk with peers on social media, they’re realizing you need to have that publishing capability in order to build your SEO, your inbound marketing, your inbound leads. I think that’s going to be an essential drive and an essential strategy to grow yourself. We’ve moved from SEM and emails to getting social media, trying to explore social media. I think those companies will understand that. It’s a powerful sales channel for us. The companies that do that will grow much faster than their competitors. And that’s going to happen this year.
Julia: That sounds really great. It’s just amazing how much content has grown in the past few years and how it’s changed so much.
Guillaume: Yes! And you know, another thought I would like to bring is, if you think that this whole change, driven again by Web 2.0, is about us becoming media publishers, as professionals or as businesses.
I would encourage you to look at what are the media outlets that really became rockstars in the past 5-10 years. It’s not the NY Times, it’s not the Washington Post. If you look at the history of media, it’s completely changed.
The media that created a lot of value and grew the fastest were the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Business Insider, Upworthy.
They don’t produce 100% of their content. They use a mix of their own content and curated content, or even some of them, like Upworthy, just do curation. They do awesome curation, which means that curation really can drive amazing traffic. So if you’re going to become as businesses, media, because Web 2.0 puts us in that corner and puts that pressure on us, we shouldn’t look at becoming media in the old-fashioned, twentieth-century way, like the NY Times 20 years ago, we should look at becoming media in the modern way like the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and Upworthy. That’s using that mix of curation and creation, that makes it easy to scale and helps you become lean with content. We like to talk about lean content as a way to be efficient with your content strategy. And I think those media are a good example of that.
Julia: That’s a great point.
Just to wrap this up, I know you’ve mentioned a couple times just a mix of curation and creation. What do you recommend, knowing what you do, having gone through content, building Scoop.it, what do you see as a good schedule for curating (something that’s not original, but relatable to what you do) and then creating your own content? Would you say 50/50, like two blogs a week, and then a few curated?
Guillaume: So the way I like to define, for some people it will be 50/50, for others 80/20, the thing that I would encourage people to look at is what comes naturally. Focus your creation activity in creating really epic content, something that if you’re going to devote some time away from your business, away from your customers, away from your employees, you should really make it count. To me, that’s the rule. If you’re talking about a 3 people shop where the business owner has a lot of things, that could be once a month. If we’re talking about 200-people company which already has a marketing team, it could be blogging once a day (everybody publishes, you know, once a week, and if they’re a 5 people team, that’s once a day). But then, look at curation to fill in the gaps for everything else. And so I think it’s depending on,
The minute you start creating low quality content is where you should stop.
You should stop and say, well, instead of creating low quality content, create less content but curate more content. You will augment the quality of whatever your readers receive. To me that’s the signal, when you start realizing, ah! I’m pressuring myself too much, and I’m creating something I’m not really proud of. You’re better off spending that time curating.
Julia: That’s a really great rule. I think anyone could take that rule and make it work.
Guillaume: Yeah, I mean that’s the rule I apply myself, whatever I feel uninspired, and I feel I’m going to force myself to blog, force myself to create something, maybe two hours later I’m going to go through content suggestions on Scoop.it, and I’ll find a great piece of content and I’m inspired, and suddenly I turn that into a mini blog post, using the publishing capabilities of the platform, and that’s so much better.
Because I’ve added to the discussion, instead of adding noise.
That’s been working a lot better for us as well, and our clients.
Julia: Yes, great rule. I would add nothing to it. Really good.
Thank you so much for your time today! This was a really insightful chat, and it was really good to talk.
Guillaume: Thank you, and if anybody has a question they want to throw out, my Twitter handle is @gdecugis. Feel free to tweet me, and I’m passionate about this discussion, so we are engaged.
Julia: Yes! That sounds great. We will have to probably schedule another one of these.
Guillaume: Alright! Bye.
Julia: Thanks for your time!
Guillaume: Thanks Julia.