BuzzTale: the Enterprise Story Network review

Review of BuzzTale: the Enterprise Story Network

June 6, 2014

Storytelling app BuzzTale bills itself as “Instagram meets Storify for business” – offering a fresh approach for internal communications professionals to connect with their audiences.

Don’t mention Pinterest though. BuzzTale founders are keen to stress the app is not solely about images, highlighting the combination of photos, videos, text and social “presents a new opportunity for more engaging content that has not yet been available”.

A bold claim indeed. But how does BuzzTale measure up? Headlines gives its verdict…

From the outset, it’s abundantly clear that BuzzTale is still a work in progress. Oozing with potential, the app – which is available on both iOS and Android – delivers striking results but, be warned, producing the content is not simple.

Launched in November as a consumer-focused mobile app, initial customer feedback concentrated heavily on providing the service for internal communications – convincing the five-strong start-up to change direction in January.

It is unashamedly mobile first, a fact CEO Andris Berzins believes helps the app stand out from the crowd.

He said: “We think that adding content on the fly is a differentiator. It is also designed for businesses to engage their employees in telling the story and adding content.

“With the bring-your-own-device changes in businesses, mobile is the easiest avenue often.”

BuzzTale’s premise is simple. Grab your smartphone and cover news or an event using a simple mixture of pictures, video, text and social.

With the content being captured on mobile and then plunged straight into the app, it offers a swift transition from raw copy to a visual storyboard.

Andris said: “The primary goal is for businesses to generate content that is engaging. Often this involves getting employees to help generate the content, hence it looks like a self-publishing tool.

“It is free for individuals to play around with, happy if they do that, but our focus is to help businesses with communications.”

We tested out BuzzTale at a Headlines’ recent CSR day – helping redecorate a hospice’s charity shop. See our efforts below.

There’s no denying that the result – particularly with Generation Y’s demands for visual content in mind – is interesting, if a little rough around the edges.

Naturally, as a mobile-native platform, it displays with far more confidence on a smaller screen.

The web-version is less impressive but still contains enough verve to provide a stimulating storytelling experience.

The tile effect has real impact and the variety of sourced content – especially the ability to include commentary from social networks – fits neatly together despite its varying nature.

However the main issue with BuzzTale is not the end product. The creation and delivery is the painful part of the BuzzTale story.

On the surface, it is a slick and logical platform, guiding users with a simple narrative and clearly marked icons.

But the over-emphasise on mobile is a problem. How many users will only use mobile to upload and curate content? Strangely, for a work-based tool, it does not allow you to add or even amend content via desk-top.

How many offices are completely reliant on mobile or tablet?

Not too many at the moment, despite the rising popularity in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.

And that leads us onto the next issue. Once you’ve completed your BuzzTale story, you can’t go back in and amend the content once it is published.

As a veteran journalist, a rogue apostrophe in my first BuzzTale outing has given me sleepless nights. Seriously.

This inability to tweak to ensure the message is right – not to mention fully up-to-date – sounded warning bells – particularly with IC professionals relying on other people to help generate content for their channels before applying the finishing touches.

It puts a huge amount of faith in the content originator to be right first time – nothing wrong with that – but surely the ability to amend content after publication is a must-have in today’s digital comms environment?

Andris accepts the need for desktop access – and the ability to amend content post-publication – is essential, stressing both developments would be released soon.

He said: “Yes, this is a feature requested by many customers. We see a mix of mobile, desktop and various sources all mixing into the stories.

“We expect desktop publishing will be more effective. My expectation is that some businesses will want to lock down official content completely, in which case the user base would be smaller. But I also see a trend in involving a wider group of employees in generating content.

“This is already done by some leading companies for public social media. It should be happening even faster for internal communications, where the risk of miscommunicating is much lower than for external communications.

“But there have been few tools for this – we have one now.”

BuzzTale: the Enterprise Story Network.
Platorm: iOS. Android. Limited desktop access.
Final thought: BuzzTale is an eye-catching way of telling a story, perfect for those IC professionals looking to deliver content with the ‘wow’ factor.
The finished product certainly hits the right cord with viewers – our experiment with the app is one of the most popular stories, in terms of stickability, on Headlines’ website.
However producing content is time-consuming. Its delivery system is flawed and needs refining, while the inability to amend content once published is nonsensical.
BuzzTale has the potential to become a powerful internal communication tool but the user experience must be far sharper if it is to become essential in delivering IC content.
Rating: 6/10.