Hot Topic, Social Media, Technology

A “Spark” for social content

New ideas get me excited. It doesn’t matter if the idea is mine or that it comes from someone else. New ideas should excite everyone because it is a chance to see what the future could be like. NewsSpark, a new social content hub, is one of those ideas that I’m excited about.

I’ve known NewsSpark founder Chris Ehrlich for over five years now, mostly over social media. However, when I started JRM Comm, Chris chatted with me via phone and gave some incredibly encouraging and kind words that stay with me to this day.

Because of this, Chris has been kind enough to open the private beta of its digital PR and marketing channel to readers of my blog.

Original content

NewsSpark is a digital hub where creators publish original content through their favorite mediums. Creators can publish original news, blogs, updates, photos, videos and audio (soon) on every topic — or Sparks. The hub also features catalogs of content creators, brands and groups. The freemium model NewsSpark is planning to implement paid features, such as branded Content Galleries.

Chris Ehrlich
Chris Ehrlich

“Looking at the marketplace, we believe we’re the first digital channel dedicated to publishing and consuming original content,” said Chris, whose content career has included stops at LEWIS PR and the San Francisco Chronicle. “Some may argue the claim, but the hub’s makeup and utility are clearly distinct when compared to other digital channels.”

NewsSpark plans to exit its private beta and launch in June. The hub is made in East Grand Rapids, Mich. and metro Los Angeles.

Initial partners

After testing the hub with family and friends, NewsSpark has set up member benefit and/or content partnerships with several organizations during its private beta: the West Michigan Public Relations Society of America, or WMPRSA; stock video production company Uberstock; early stage venture capital fund Start Garden; urban business incubator GR Current; and Michigan State University Spartan Innovations, the university’s startup innovation division.

User-rated content

Sparks can be published by “anyone with great original content,” Chris said. Creators increase or decrease a Spark’s stoke count — and hub-wide rank — when they “stoke it,” “douse it” or mark it as a “firestarter.” The hub of user-ranked content is organized by a set of filters and designed to be “a meritocracy and front-line source for anyone who consumes digital content.”

“Right now, the community is in its infancy,” he added. “It will naturally grow as we grow.”

Private beta access

Here’s where you can get in on the fun. Chris is now opening up NewsSpark’s private beta to me, “a long-time tweep,” and readers of One Guy’s Journey. Readers can access the private beta hub and “stake claims to their industry categories” via my referral link, keeping  “JasMollica” in the referer field. Readers can also use the hub’s invite-a-friend feature to invite others into the private beta.

Content marketing problems

NewsSpark is designed to be an open and organized hub where creators can complete their content marketing cycles. “The hub lets their content burn and work for them in ways it can’t at other digital channels,” Chris said. He explained thatNewsSpark logo almost immediately after it’s posted, original content functionally disappears from other digital channels, where he said content is an ad unit, fleeting, disorganized, unfindable, isolated or in a closed network.

“There’s all this great content being created that gets lost online — as a fleeting mention, one-time broadcast or on a virtual island,” Chris said. “We wanted to create a hub where original content can be planted, judged on its merit and work as an ongoing catalyst for creators — in real-time and long-term.” The hub is also a platform for creators to package, consolidate and digitally present their complete range of content to their audiences in a professional-grade user interface, such as a plug-and-play social Content Gallery, newsroom or web presence.

“A brand’s content is diluted when it’s only fragmented across channels — and never unified in a single user experience for ongoing discovery,” Chris said.

Sparks flying

The hub is designed to potentially increase multiple near- and long-term content marketing metrics: brand awareness, SEO and social search, audience, engagement, web traffic, coverage by bloggers and media outlets, inbound leads and sales. “We’re simply engineered from the onset to deliver returns to creators who market their content,” Chris said. The hub is also designed to deliver cost and staff savings on managing and sharing digital content. “Trying to manage and use de-centralized content is hugely inefficient for teams,” Ehrlich said. “And when they turn to platforms to package and centralize the content, they often run into technical or pricing obstacles.”

Bigger picture

I’m a big believer in paying it forward and NewsSpark is doing just that, in a huge way. The company will donate 5% of its income to The NewsSpark R. D.  Ehrlich Communications Scholarship at colleges across the country, beginning with UCLA and Denison University.

Check it out and tell me what you think of NewsSpark!

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