Every Picture (and Tweet, and Clip) Tells a Story

Social startup Storify is capturing the imagination of journalists and brands

With the presidential elections underway and the Olympics coming up, this is a big year for event-driven journalism—and for social publishing tool Storify.

Storify built its name on enabling reporters, bloggers or anyone to aggregate status updates, tweets, links and YouTube videos and embed them into a blog-style, continuous-stream article treatment that can then live on a site of one’s choosing. The concept is fairly simple: capture as much content as possible on a particular topic from numerous voices across the Web in an easy-to-consume format.

The product launched in closed beta in fall 2010 before rolling out to the public last spring. While the startup has grown from its two co-founders to a crew of only six full-timers, co-founder Burt Herman said 22 of the top 25 U.S. news sites use Storify as do the Obama and Romney campaigns as well as brands including Dell, General Electric, IBM, Adobe, Virgin America and Samsung. (Storify does not yet sell advertising.)

Reuters social media editor Anthony De Rosa has been on Storify since its beta period. “We actually featured a story during the U.K. riots on the front page that was completely built using Storify,” he said. “There’ve been moments here or there where it’s gone beyond just bloggers using it, and I think you’re starting to see more and more it’s going out to much larger audiences at bigger name media organizations.” Besides Reuters, The Washington Post also uses Storify.

Herman said an immediate priority is to capitalize on Storify’s growing readership. “What we want to do moving forward is leverage the fact that we have basically the top curators, but now we [also] have a lot of people reading the stories,” he said. “[Those readers] don’t have as much that they can actually do [with the content] and not everybody is going to create a story in Storify, so we really want to enable the readers to do curation on a smaller scale.”

Last Friday, Storify announced it was expanding readers’ ability to comment on or share any element within a Storify post to a larger number of social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+, as well as email.

Expanded, user-driven distribution is one way Storify looks to expand its reach, but not the only one.

Last month, the company signed its first syndication deal with news aggregator Pulse to distribute stories from top users through the mobile and tablet app. Storify partnered with Pulse “to show that we want to help our creators get an audience for what they do and enable the stories to go anywhere,” said Herman.

Storify plans to sign on more syndication partners, he said, singling out Internet portals as a possibility.

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