It’s an exciting time to be a part of the UpContent team. In the last month, the team has doubled in size and the momentum has tripled as we’re nearing the end of the year. Though the product has been in development since May 2012, UpContent has really only been “on the market” since mid-year. We’re thrilled to say we’ve graduated from the “beta stage” and are transitioning through what we call the “foundation stage.”
As with any technology start-up, this formative period of growth and change requires a great deal of resilience and flexibility as we balance creating a solid product and growing our user base. We invite you to join us in our journey to making UpContent the go-to tool for discovering the content that matters most to you.
The idea for UpContent was born out of the frustration our employees at Community Elf were experiencing when trying to discover fresh, high-quality content to curate for their clients’ social media platforms. Too much time was being spent scrolling through endless results in Google, bookmarking the content that seemed somewhat engaging, making sure it was written by someone credible, checking the date of publication, and then scheduling the social media post. A development team was formed to create an algorithm that would approach content discovery in an entirely new way. With help from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, we built our algorithm, allowing users to find very specific content and sort it by influence, relevance, shareability, and recency, and then seamlessly schedule or share the content on social media.
In our beta stage, we spent the majority of our time finding out if there was a solid product market fit. While we knew that our Community Elf team would benefit greatly from the tool’s capabilities, we had to see if there was a greater need. Over time, we were able to see that there was indeed a product market fit through:
User adoption. People were actually signing up for the product and using it. Winning!
Inbound marketing. We utilized a series of paid display advertisements and found success in both click-through rates and conversions.
Internal and external discussions. We are really lucky to have in-house beta testers who serve as both core users and invaluable colleagues. We formed focus groups that consisted of our content marketing account managers (our “elves”) to test UpContent. They determined that the tool saved them valuable time and provided high-quality content for all of their clients in one place, a convenience feature they really appreciated. This insight gave us the confidence to move forward.
Social listening. Through our social channels, we noticed people expressed a need for a tool that would help users not only find good content quickly but find the best content—not just the stuff that Google ranked highest or the articles that were already being shared virally.
When this product market fit was made clear to us, the team felt confident and comfortable in bringing on new members to enter into this new phase of growth: the foundation stage.
It is becoming evident that this foundation stage is one of rapid growth, testing our endurance both as individuals and as a team. Right now, our efforts are focused on expanding our product to include refinements to older features as well as improvements to our sorting options, user experience, branding, and design.
Additionally, we are taking this time to identify our differentiators from other competitors. As we transition through a rebrand, we recognize that all other “curation tools” on the market focus on the “what” in their results: finding the facts and returning them back to the user. Inversely, UpContent sees content as persuasive communicators that are impacted by things like relevance, emotional connection, and credibility. Through our various filters, users can discover and share the “buried treasure” they can’t find anywhere else, asserting themselves as thought experts and the “first to know” about their topic of interest.
As the Greek philosopher Aristotle teaches, there are three categories of persuasion—ethos, pathos, and logos. Traditional curation tools think only about logos, the logical use of reasoning. That’s why when you do a Google search or scroll through a news aggregator, you’re bound to find recently published articles that directly align with your search. And that’s great! That’s why we, too, include relevance and recency filters that deliver recently published and pertinent content suggestions or allow you to sort by things posted in the last day, week, or month. However, here at UpContent, we recognize that there is also great value in considering ethos and pathos when digesting, sharing, and commenting upon content.
Ethos, the Greek word for “character,” is the ethical appeal or credibility of the author. We apply the principle of ethos to our influence filter, allowing you to select content based on the authority the author commands on the topic. We’ve teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University to bring even more improvements to this filter in the near future.
Pathos, the Greek word for “suffering,” is persuasion through emotional appeal. We recognize that some content just resonates more with a larger audience than others, especially through word choice. Our shareability filter sorts content so that the suggestions that are most likely to be shared more appear at the very top.
Now that we have identified these differentiators, tightened our brand, and are working toward updates and redesigns, we’re gaining confidence and traction and it feels great.
Sometimes when you are in the heart of the hustle, it can be difficult to see progress. The UpContent team is definitely moving full steam ahead through the end of December (and beyond) and, while it can be exhausting, we are starting to see the fruits of our labor. Our team took a brief moment to pause and reflect on what we’ve learned during this past sprint:
Check out the fruits of our labor with a free UpContent account!