According to Guy Kawasaki, speaking at Social Media Marketing World, “Curation is just as valuable as creation.”
Flipboard, which turns its users into curators, apparently doesn’t quite see it that way. Editorial director Josh Quittner told The Drum a couple years ago, after the launch of its now fundamental “Magazines” curation feature, “The creator is still more valuable than the curator.”
In other words, the content being curated by Flipboard users has to come from somewhere, and creators can take advantage of that fact and potentially gain traffic from the service. We recently dove into how you can go about doing so, but have since reached out to the company itself for some additional insight. The result was a Q&A with Quittner.
Is Flipboard part of your content strategy? Let us know in the comments.
First, he addressed a question about how Filpboard chooses what stories to show users, beyond the personalization that comes with topic, magazine, and profile following.
“When you go to Flipboard, the first thing you see is your Cover Stories with highlights from everything you follow, including magazines, sources, topics and social networks,” he says. “We look at a whole bunch or heuristics to determine what to show in your Cover Stories such as comments, likes and interactions on Flipboard as well as the social networks you have connected. As you add more things on Flipboard such as sources, magazines and people, their posts will begin to appear in your Cover Stories. We also give personalized recommendations for magazines and people to follow based on your interests. An algorithm-driven discovery engine analyzes millions of articles each day across more than 34,000 topics, suggesting content based on your interests and preferences. These are some of the ways we strive to make content that’s relevant to you more easily discoverable.”
Flipboard has a set of community guidelines on how to share and how not to share content on the service. Asked about some dos and don’ts beyond the standard guidelines, Quittner had the following to say.
“We see that readers appreciate focus. General topics such as ‘technology,’ ‘food’ or ‘design’ are great if you’re curating a collection for your own reference, but if you want to build an audience, general topics don’t give readers much to get excited about. Get specific, like instead of ‘gadgets’ go for ‘gadgets for kids’ or instead of ‘recipes’ choose ‘slow-cooker recipes.'”
“Once you’ve picked a topic, start thinking about your perspective on it. A magazine with a point of view and a tone of voice resonates well with readers. We see magazines about the same topic but with different points of view all the time. Your take on happiness, healthcare or fast cars will be different than anyone else’s.”
“When you first start a new magazine, keep it private for a while until you have about 40 items in it. By then you will know if you picked a topic you are really interested in and for your readers there will really be something to read. I’ve seen exceptions too – if you’re making a magazine about an event or for a class for instance you may not need the same amount of content. The 10 articles to read for science class this week can also work.”
“Then there are some practical things you want to think about such as a magazine title and cover photo. A compelling magazine title, which can be descriptive or creative, can attract new readers and so can an attractive cover. And don’t forget the basics: make sure your profile has a photo and description. Providing a face to a name helps establish trust and adds a human element to your profile.”
“I also want to make sure curators know they can use badges to spread the word about their magazines. At share.flipboard.com you can find tools to help build your magazines’ reach. There is a profile badge that will take people to your profile page with all your magazines, as well as a magazine widget. If you add the widget to your website, a magazine cover that updates dynamically will be displayed.”
On whether it’s better for users to create/curate one or two magazines or a bunch of them…
“Curating is personal so it really depends on what your goals are,” says Quittner. “If you want to connect with likeminded people and build up an audience, I recommend curating a separate magazine for each interest. If your magazine is more for yourself, than it’s fine to collect everything in one magazine.”
A couple of questions that a lot of people would probably ask are: Does it matter how much of the content in a user’s magazine comes from their own website? Is it always better to have a mix, or is it sometimes good to have magazines that explicitly feature your own content?
“It’s really up to you,” says Quittner. “A Flipboard magazine can be a great way to make your blog more discoverable or to make it look beautiful on a mobile device. We see bloggers who flip a lot of their own blog posts into a magazine and mix in stories by others about the same topic or with a similar point of view. We also see bloggers compliment the magazine with their own content on other platforms, for instance Medium posts, Tweets, Instagrams or photos from your phone.”
“Some of the larger blogs, curate multiple magazines on Flipboard,” he adds. “For instance, if your blog is about technology, you could curate all your stories about wearables into one magazine and create another magazine with all your games content.”
He notes that Flipboard has tools specifically for bloggers, which you can look through here.
As noted in a previous article, we’ve seen some people speculate on the SEO value of having content in Flipboard. Asked about this, Quittner says, “We’ve seen that Flipboard helps drive traffic to publishers and content creators by making content more discoverable. Now that Flipboard is on the Web, you may have noticed that your magazines will surface when you do a Google search. Adding descriptions to your magazine and your profile helps people understand what your content is about and it’s part of what the search engines crawl.”
In October, Flipboard said 10 million magazines had been created. Asked for an update on that and how many are actively updated, Quittner tells us, “Since we launched the third generation of Flipboard in October, which introduced topics we saw the number of magazines created by our readers grow fast. We’re now at 15 million. And over the same period of time we doubled the number of active curators. Flipboard 3.0 has also made people more engaged and while we had 30 million monthly active readers in October of last year, we now have almost 50 million.”
In addition to asking Quittner some questions, we reached out to Mathew Ingram, formerly of Gigaom (which was still operational at the time of our interaction), about getting more out of the service. Ingram has been featured on Flipboard’s own blog, where he talked about how he uses the service.
“I actually think having multiple magazines makes a lot of sense,” he tells WebProNews. “That way you can segment and target your various interests and appeal to different readers.”
On how much of the content in your magazine should come from your own stuff, Ingram says, “I think a 70-30 breakdown is a good rule of thumb for a lot of social media — so 70 percent or so content from other publishers or creators and about 30 percent from you.”
Asked about traffic, Ingram says, “We often see some high volume from Flipboard to our stories, although not regularly enough to count on. And it’s difficult to track why some stories take off and others don’t.”
Are you taking measures to increase your content’s exposure with Flipboard? Do you plan to in the future? Let us know in the comments.