Immersive storytelling platform Shorthand has updated its free offering to better integrate stories with social media.
The upgrade, from Shorthand Immersive to Shorthand Social, means the platform can automatically write and schedule multimedia tweets to promote stories, based on the chapters within.
"Before, you could use the tool to create a story and post it to Immersive but there's no real reason to get people engaged with it," Stephen Phillips, Shorthand's chief executive, told Journalism.co.uk.
"So we wanted to remove the friction to sign up to make it social, and then this is our first attempt in playing with automated tweets."
Screengrab from Journalism.co.uk's test Shorthand Social article [GIF]
Users can now sign in with Twitter before using Shorthand to create media-rich stories, in a similar manner to Medium.
Both are quick and attractive publishing platforms with options to add large images, embed videos and media from elsewhere with the added benefit of looping video as a header image.
But while Shorthand doesn't have the reader network of Medium – treated by some as a destination to discover articles – Phillips said he hopes the new additions to Shorthand will help bloggers, freelancers and writers better share their work to their existing social network.
"There's no way for people to promote themselves or drive virality around the story," he said. "So at the moment they're just publishing to nowhere. If we take the simple editor, plug it into a pre-built social network and let people promote their stories on there then we've got something that those independent guys can use."
The automated tweets written by Shorthand Social [GIF]
Phillips has only recently joined Shorthand, after leaving his role as a senior software engineer at Twitter last summer where he had been researching ways to improve the storytelling process with tweets.
With Shorthand Social he is "returning to his roots" in discovering how "machine learning might be applied to news", having founded the now defunct news aggregation site WotNews in Australia.
This notion of the "intelligent story" at Shorthand, which now helps users better promote their work within their existing network, is the first step in a process which he hopes will help empower freelancers around the world.
"The feedback from them was they were trying to think through new ways of telling stories on social, rather than just putting up a WordPress blog, putting up a post and then hoping people know about it.
"There's a hell of a lot of people invested in their own profiles on Twitter and building their reputation there," he said, "so why go and build a different one?"