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Swoot Has Arrived to Make Podcast Sharing Social

Tech

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The onetime team collaboration app now serves to help friends collaborate on sharing their favorite episodes.

Podcasts have exploded in popularity over the last several years, with listenership, creation of new shows, and support on platforms at an all-time high. And yet, there is a weak point in the experience: discovery. Swoot is aiming to address that problem– an app that allows you to “connect with friends, discover shows you’ll love, and never miss an awesome podcast again.”

While other forms of entertainment can be shared with relative ease via social, audio has always been notoriously difficult to share in these spaces. You don’t always know what platform your friends listen to shows on, so direct links are cumbersome to share. You’re not always aware of what someone already listens to, so some recommendations might end up being redundant. And once you do connect with a show, most players will then commit you to a full series…rather than allowing you to hear the one episode your friend loved. Swoot’s approach combats all of those challenges, and does so by ditching the tech-enabled recommendation engine in favor of a human-powered one.

Co-founders Pete Curley and Garret Heaton, formerly of HipChat (since bought by Atlassian), originally devised the app as a tool for team collaboration, but a chance injury Curley sustained meant he spent more time listening to podcasts than he ever had before…and he noticed the dearth of compelling ways to share content with others.

Now, the app they developed provides two ways to do this. One, there is a main feed that shows what friends are listening to and recommending to one another. Two, there is a list of trending episodes based on your connections within the app. Trending episodes is an important distinction, because the app leans more on driving users to popular episodes of podcasts, than whole shows themselves. “In the 700,000 shows that exist, if you’re the 690,000 worst-ranked show, but you have one great episode that should be able to go viral, that’s basically impossible to do right now, because audio is crazy hard to share,” Curley said. Framing recommendations in this way allows exceptional episodes to rise to the top of listener feeds.

The Verge’s Ashley Carman likened the tool to Last.fm, a musical social network that displayed what friends on the platform were listening to and enjoying. Similarly, this book nerd loves that element of Goodreads. Swoot aims to serve that role for avid podcast listeners; “the big idea is to let listeners see what shows their friends follow, as well as the shows and episodes they recommend, all in the name of getting people to discover new content.” And this big idea stands to close a major gap. Social sharing is a part of “literally everything,” including your bathroom scale, except “the one thing that I actually wanted it for,” Curley noted. With Swoot, we may soon be able to check that one thing off the list.

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