Nuzzel, with a new batch of news-savvy investors, wants to bring social curation to publishers

This post is by Joseph Lichterman from Nieman Lab

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If you live in certain media and technology circles, there’s a very good chance you’re already using Nuzzel. It’s an app that combs through your Twitter or Facebook feeds, identifying the links being shared the most by your friends. (It’s a lot like our own Fuego, which does the same for future-of-news news with a slightly different methodology.) It’s a very efficient way to use the curation you’ve already done of your Twitter followers to curate news. It’s not limited to topics. It could be all the people who work at BuzzFeed or The New York Times, but topical ones work too. And when we built feeds like this, sometimes it surfaced content from niche vertical blogs that are not necessarily mainstream, but often, mainstream content was also surfaced. We quickly realized that every day The New York Times, USA Today, The Guardian, CNN, Washington Post, Wall Street etc. are publishing hundreds and hundreds of pieces of content. And if you have a specific interest in, you know, fertility, or libraries, or bitcoin, or whatever it is and there’s a really interesting or funny article relevant to that audience in The New York Times, or CNN, or The Guardian in the last 24 hours, you probably didn’t find it. Because most people don’t use RSS readers or any tools to go through the news. Less than 1 percent of people who read news online really use tools like that. They’ve all been too complicated.

If you look on Facebook, your’e going to find lowest-common denominator stuff. And if The New York Times published a funny story last week and you go to their homepage, you’re not going to find that story either. So this could be beneficial to publishers in terms of helping them get audience to the right content in a way that I don’t think is happening on Facebook or any of these other platforms. That’s something that we noticed, and now we’ve got these new investors to help advise us. Exactly what we’re going to do is something that we’re still going to figure out over the next year. Another thing is that a lot of publishers and news companies have asked to meet with us. This happens all the time. We’re trying to figure out a way that we can work with them. Do we publish some sort of syndicated Nuzzel feed or widgets that they can use with us? Those are things we’re interested in and we haven’t figured this out. These are things that it seems like there’s interest in, and these are things that we’re going to be working on in the next year.
It’s funny — we’ve been doing a lot of innovative stuff with push alerts using Android and iPhone, which is obviously a pretty new technology, but at the same time, we’re also very focused on email, which is very old technology. We recently changed our email template, and we’re planning to do even more stuff with email and more stuff with mobile push. Basically, we want to be cross-platform. In some ways they’re similar and in some ways they’re very different. Mobile push notifications is a very mobile-focused and pretty new channel, and I think what we’ve done with push notifications is different than a lot of news apps that send everyone the same alerts. But we also think that email remains a very relevant channel for news. There’s something that’s pretty natural about getting a news digest in your email every morning. We’re continuing to do more stuff on both of those.