I love curated content. As the Editor of DailyTekk, I’m always on the look out for interesting technology articles. On a personal level, I’m always on the hunt for interesting stories—period. I keep a personal list of gems of sources that consistently unearth and deliver interesting curated content (I feel another roundup coming on) but one of my absolute favorites is called PocketHits. As you might have guessed, it’s run by the team at Pocket, a service that lets you save articles, videos—just about anything—for later viewing. PocketHits delivers the most popular stories, videos, images, recipes and more from articles saved to Pocket and it comes in two flavors: email and Twitter. If this is the first you have heard of the service, prepare to be addicted.
I wanted to learn more about how PocketHits works so I asked Jonathan Bruck, whose official title is listed as Juggler at Pocket, a few questions.
From your perspective, why should people be excited about PocketHits and why is it different and/or better than other curation channels?
More than 1.5 million items are saved to Pocket every day, meaning we see a lot of content pouring in that people want to view later. We analyze all this content by looking at which items have the highest volume and rate of saves, opens, shares, and favorites – it’s an algorithm we call Impact Rank. This will give us a good idea of which pieces are the most engaging.
Once we parse through that, we have our Pocket Hits. It’s the best of what’s being saved and consumed across Pocket.
Pocket Hits are unique in that they can feature content from just about anywhere. Even though pieces from traditionally popular publications like The New York Times and WIRED will qualify as a Pocket Hit, we also feature posts from personal blogs and smaller publications.
It’s unbiased curation of the best content, which creates an equal playing field for publishers of all sizes.
How are articles curated for PocketHits? Is it machine or human curated and what is the criteria for an article making the cut?
It is a little of both. Generating Pocket Hits starts out with our Impact Rank algorithm. It picks up on a handful of signals that show an item to be particularly engaging, like the volume and rate of saves, opens, shares, and favorites that I mentioned earlier. Ultimately, the impact rank favors loyalty and the quality of content over raw popularity (i.e. lots of saves). This means that everything featured on Pocket Hits is the best of what’s being saved across Pocket.
Our Pocket Hits email, however, is curated by hand. To be clear, we still use the same criteria for the email as we do with finding any other Pocket Hits, it’s just that ultimately, we handpick these five suggestions from the list of items with a high Impact Rank.
We do this to share articles and videos that are totally distinct from one another. For instance, this past week, we featured an article about the NFL, one about radioactive poison, and another on the changing American family. When you open a Pocket Hits email, you never know what you’re going to find, and that’s what keeps it interesting!
Are there certain types of content that appear more often than others in PocketHits? If so, why? What characteristics tend to define the most popular content on this channel?
Many of our early adopters are immersed in the tech scene, so we see a lot of startup news and business advice across the board in Pocket Hits.
When it comes to the Pocket Hits email, however, the items we feature tend to be long reads (articles longer than 1,500 words) and investigative pieces.
On the other hand, if you were to look at our @PocketHits Twitter stream and categorize it, you’d probably land on “self-improvement.” When it comes down to it, much of the content people find most interesting (and thus save to Pocket) has to do with productivity, health, learning, and simply sharing lessons that can help us all become better at what we love and do.