Commentary

The Democratization Of Content - A Snapshot Of Snapshot

This column represents a departure from my normal musings on media and technology. Over the last year, I’ve had a ringside seat as a beta tester of a new publishing system -- Snapshot Publisher -- and I would like to share an inside look with Media Daily News readers. There are some intriguing and disruptive components to the product that are being embraced by small teams of international organizations, and journalists from myriad journalistic organizations may be interested in harnessing these components.

Snapshot Publisher is the brainchild of Michael Andrade and Rick Thompson, founders of Snapshot Software Group.  The team developed it initially to create a streamlined means of curating and publishing content to social-media channels of businesses and digital agencies (and their clients). Over the course of the past year, I’ve watched it evolve into a tool for entrepreneurial-minded journalists and organizations.

Here is a snapshot of what Snapshot does:

1) The software finds, curates and organizes personalized “snapshots” drawn from Web-based content streams, social media, RSS feeds, blogs and sites, and custom search, placing items of interest in custom-labeled category “containers” in the left hand section of the screen, for subsequent review.

2) It provides a virtual, on-screen tablet (called the MagicPad) -- center screen to handle the craftwork of writing and layout -- be it spinning, riffing, or embedding photos, content and citations for newly authored articles.

3) When the final story or post is ready to go live, it streamlines the formatting, approval, scheduling and publication of completed content. Of particular note, the publication process is intelligent, and allows for the simultaneous formatting and publication across multiple social media, blogs, and sites, with a short burst of keystrokes. A new enhancement even provides the ability for a remote editor to approve posts and tweets via a mobile Web app, prior to scheduled publication deadlines.

Man Versus – Or Alongside – Machine?

While Snapshot has intelligent elements, it leaves much of the raw creative process to writers, focusing instead on streamlining and powering the steps that precede or follow the creative process.

“We believe deeply in the human touch,” explains cofounder Thompson. “We designed Snapshot to help reduce the time spent on the more tedious and administrative aspects of researching and publishing, so that the writer has more time to spend on the more value-added aspects of content creation.”

Thompson opines that the move toward sound bites, video snacking and tweets redefines the meaning of “excellence” in communications and journalism. “To be clear, the nature of content is shifting from more of long essays, to shorter bursts of content,” he says, adding, “down to 140 character tweets. But even in shorter bursts, quality rises to the top. Creative people with something important to say, who are empowered to say it in a timely way, will make the difference.”

Thompson’s frustrations with the laborious task of managing social media and new content for clients of his agency, BrandPeriscope, contributed to the product’s formation. “I used to find good articles on the Web. I would then cut-and-paste them into Word docs, and file them on my PC. I would copy the URL and author and parts of the story. Then I’d have to remember where I filed it, fetch it and then re-read it. Cut-and-paste any parts of it I wanted to reuse. It was all very laborious and a waste of time … Time not spent thinking or creating, but searching and copying.”

With Snapshot, users can quickly save images, Word documents, RSS feeds and Web sites into their custom-created categories of interest.

Another powerful feature is the ability to manage multi-account and multi-user collaborations, enabling small teams of journalists to support and deploy media sites that sport the look, feel, and most importantly, depth of well-produced timely content, formerly only available to established media outlets with significantly greater staff -- and resulting overhead.

In the words of one of Snapshot’s most visible clients, digital marketing consultant and blogger George Levy: “It’s a force multiplier.”

Collaboration Case Study:  Futbol Mundial

George Levy is a former regional partner development manager for Microsoft Latin America. He says he started using Snapshot for posting articles and managing tweets for his blog, BreakthroughDigitalMarketing.com. Particularly for bloggers, Levy felt that tools were needed to “keep writers smart, and determine what to share.”

Levy joined Mundial Sports Network as COO earlier last year and quickly realized that some tweaks to the Snapshot product could expedite the process of migrating Mundial’s 10-year-old magazine, Futbol Mundial, to a digital platform. The quarterly Spanish-language magazine was under pressure due to “the shifting landscape and budgets” of print, and the parent company needed to embrace digital to reach readers on a daily basis.

Futbol Mundial had a wealth of existing assets -- documents, PDF’s, Web sites, blog, and other IP including images -- something upon which many Web publishers are seeking to capitalize. Recalls Snapshot cofounder Andrade: “We saw the value in helping to make these assets Web-ready, so that they could immediately migrate from the print world to the digital world.”

Futbol Mundial’s magazine content is still created globally, and by supplementing it with time-sensitive online content, it is now able to build relationships with its audience -- and at the same time, its editors are becoming personalities.

Crowdsourced  - And Cloudsourced - Content

Lastly, Snapshot’s latest innovation harnesses the cloud and the crowd to increase the volume and timeliness of content. With the addition of two crowdsourcing tools -- a Chrome browser extension, and a “Snapshot Crowdsourcer” Web App -- Snapshot provides publishers with tools that enables them to collect ideas, pictures, stories and even finished tweets and posts from trusted contributors.

This content is collected by the community manager, reviewed and scheduled. The extension allows anyone with Chrome to be able to take a snapshot of Web site content and instantly send it to the “Crowd Sourced Posts” collection tank of a Snapshot user. 

For example, let’s say I’m browsing MediaPost, and find a blog of interest. Using the Chrome browser, I simply click the orange “Snapshot” icon in the upper right-hand corner, which takes a “Snapshot” of the page, curates the link, headline, URL, and an image for reference.  Then, after adding comments that help me recall why I am flagging the content, I can, with a second click of the “send” button, send the “snapshot” to my “Community Tank” within my Snapshot account -- as well as an email notification to my inbox.

From inside Snapshot, I can then riff or cite the content, and quickly make the content (or source) an important part of a new post, tweet, article -- or all three, at once

Similarly, the Crowdsourcer tool allows Publishers to invite enthusiastic followers to compose “Ready-to-Post” Tweets or Facebook Posts on behalf of the publisher, who will then receive and review these tweets/posts, and quickly approve and schedule the content within minutes of the original tweet/post being created.

Authorized contributors can also send in ideas, photos or other content to the community manager. To be clear, this is not posted directly to the organization’s social media stream, but is sent to the community manager as a contribution that can be saved, reviewed and published.

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