Snip.it Overhauls, Aims to Be a Pinterest for In-Depth Content

Web content clipping startup Snip.it today introduced a completely revamped new version of its online tool, geared at making collecting, organizing and sharing great content much easier for users. The site, which was founded in 2011 by former Khosla Ventures principal Ramy Adeeb, looks and feels like Pinterest, but its intent is to help people get together around much more deeply engaging content. Adeeb said in an interview that this redesign should provide its users with not only better ways to engage, but also better ways to track that engagement, built right into the network.

“Our users use Snip.it to share on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and they want to see how users engage with their content,” he said. “Very advanced users will go get a Snip.it link, shorten it with Bitly, and use that to track. We just said we’ll get that data for you and aggregated it.” With analytics built right in, Snip.it gives users one-stop shopping for both collecting and sharing with a way to keep informed about which content is being shared around a lot, and which isn’t doing so well.

Especially for social power users and brands, that kind of info is incredibly useful. Still, to date Adeeb says that the company is focused more on the former market, and not really on the latter, though he acknowledges that with enough scale it could become attractive to brands. But unlike on Pinterest, the type of aggregating Snip.it is designed for isn’t necessarily quickly digested content like photos, simple quotes and ads. Instead, it wants to be a place where people can truly build collections that represent their beliefs, lasting concerns and pursuits of passion. Adeeb, born in Egypt, got the idea when watching the events of the Arab Spring unfold and realizing that people in his social networks didn’t really share his interest graph. There had to be a better way to connect with people who did care, in a space where they could share content.

With Snip.it’s collections, which are now able to be browsed by topic, that’s exactly what’s possible. The collections themselves get an overhaul in this new version, too, bringing increased personalization and customization options, including background color and cover photo changes.

“Most products let you customize your profile page, in Snip.it you’re customizing your interests page,” Adeeb said. “It’s this whole notion of multiple streams, and each stream is something you’re proud of.” By putting customization options around the different means of expression, rather than at a central location related to the person, Snip.it is emphasizing interests over people, which it’s hoping will drive engagement with and around content. And since all Snip.it content links out to its original source rather than reformatting it and presenting it directly on the site, that’s good for publishers, too.

Since Snip.it is looking to build its network around interests, it’s in competition with a fair number of recent products. CircleMe is a recent entrant, launched in March; open-form Q&A site Formspring just refocused to capitalize on interest-based networking; and Thumb recently introduced a major update to focus on the networking aspect of its opinion-giving platform. There are also countless products based around a specific interest like Foodspotting. Adeeb shared why he believes now is the time for interest-based networking to take off, and why he believes his model is strongest in terms of reflecting what users are looking for.

“There’s always been interest-based social networks, but one thing changed over the past two or three years,” Adeeb said. “If you look at user behavior online, in 2000 say one to two percent of the population blogged, and that number hasn’t changed much because the number of people online has grown proportionally to the number of people blogging. But if you look at sharing links, three or four years ago the only way to share links was on email. Today, 70 percent of Facebook users have shared links on their Facebook wall.”

Unlike on Facebook, however, where shared links are “fleeting,” on Snip.it they gain a more permanent home. People can come back to links and collections of links years down the road and see a snapshot of their thinking at the time, and also build and evolve that collection. That’s something that hasn’t been addressed as of yet: a way to provide a sort of interactive, social journal of people’s feelings and beliefs.

For Snip.it, which also rebuilt its product from the ground up leveraging JavaScript to build a single-page, Pinterest-like experience, providing as friction-free a route as possible to that kind of archive-building is the goal. It’s an interesting approach, and one users won’t really find replicated in any other product as of yet, though it shares similar traits with link sharing sites like the new Bitly, as well as conceptual and design elements from Pinterest. Still, Snip.it’s biggest challenge will be proving that in practice, mainstream users aren’t satisfied with ephemeral sharing, and do indeed want something more permanent for more in-depth content.

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