(tl;dr: Tout is a video sharing service that was started in 2010 and allows users to share short videos from their Tout profile as well as link to other social media profiles. Today, Tout seems to face tough competition in the social media world through the likes of Vine and Instagram, but does so by allowing users to share in the revenue stream of advertisements)
Tout is a social content community that was created in April 2010 by Silicon Valley veteran Michael Downing from the Stanford Research Institute (Malone, 2011). Tout really took off however on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 when former NBA basketball player Shaquille O’Neal used the platform to announce his retirement from the sport. In the first three hours of his announcement, Tout got over a half a million page views as a result (Barol, 2011). Today, Tout is utilized by over 200 leading media companies and celebrities, in addition to social users that put Tout’s user base at around 19 million people who use the service in order to publish video and quickly share videos to various social media platforms (Kantrowitz, 2013).
The stand out feature for Tout is the ability to edit and post videos directly from the free app associated with the platform. Essentially, this app allows the user’s smartphone to become the television studio and 15 second videos can be uploaded almost immediately directly from the app. The videos are limited to only 15 seconds, but as we have seen from services such as Vine and Instagram, this limitation may not always be such a problem and encourages users to come up with creative content that is quick and to the point. From a journalism perspective, the benefits of this video upload service are obvious and this fact was apparent in browsing some of the “featured videos” on the website, which included live Touts from a protest in Egypt. Tout also plugs in to many of the social media platforms and allows companies to post Touts directly on their website.
Companies such as Wall Street Journal and ESPN are featured channels on the platform and appear to use the service to supplement the content that is on their own websites. Channels are also divided into categories and users are encouraged to subscribe to various channels which will eventually show up on their custom newsfeed. Very similar to the newsfeeds associated with other social media platforms, the videos on a Tout user’s newsfeed will play from the beginning upon viewing the feed, and will continually run into each other, despite coming from various channels. This is a really neat feature that makes Tout almost like a custom television channel as a user can log in and automatically see all the new videos posted by the channels they subscribe to in order of upload. Tout is very mobile friendly and encourages its users to upload videos directly from their iOS devices as well as on Android. Hashtags are also used on Tout and are designed to get users to become engaged with the content. Touts can be liked and commented on by using Touts to make the comment. Finally, content creators are able to share in the revenue stream by agreeing to have short advertisement videos accompany their content. This is really the stand out feature of Tout and allows it to stand out from its competition. By allowing users to share in the revenue stream, Tout gives a great incentive for using the platform and generating views from all around the internet. Further, there is more of an incentive for creativity if users are able to share revenue.
In my opinion, Tout is in trouble. Unfortunately, it does not really have enough features that distinguish it from other platforms providing a similar service such as Vine and Instagram. Even though Tout might have “been here first,” they are still ANOTHER platform that has to be changed over to in order to engage with, and may not be able to steal the customer base away from Instagram, which recently added the ability to upload videos. However, also associated with Tout that does help it is the ability to share in the revenue stream. This makes Tout a “one stop shop” of sorts for people who hope to one day make money off of their content. The best thing for Tout to do going forward is to try and continue to get “big names” to support the service and perhaps use the service as a plug in of sorts to their own webpages. This exposure will keep people coming back to the service, and the ability to share in the revenue may inspire some impressive content creators to use the service in the future.
Malone, M. (2011, December 05). News chiefs ‘tout’ benefits of social video. Broadcasting and Cable, 20. Retrieved from https://app.box.com/s/v7jt8v2qkl6zynpmamlb
Barol, B. (2011). How shaq put tout on the social media map (in 15 seconds). Forbes, Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/billbarol/2011/06/02/how-shaq-put-tout-on-the-social-media-map-in-15-seconds/
Kantrowitz, A. (2013). Will vine destroy tout? hardly, says tout ceo. Forbes, Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexkantrowitz/2013/01/29/will-vine-destroy-tout-hardly-says-touts-ceo/