I first checked out Bo.lt last July when it was invite only and served as a modifiable screen grabbing tool – a really well designed and useful screen grab tool but nothing like the site it is today.
Bo.lt seemed like a great new platform but after the initial fun, I forgot about it and moved on to other sites. That is until just over a month ago when I was planning my trip to Cybher 2012 and Sian started talking about using Bo.lt to share pictures from the event. I took another look and found that Bo.lt had a new interface and had had a complete revamp in functionality. At first glance I worried that it was just a souped up version of Pinterest but after following (and chatting to) other users and testing it out more rigorously, I’ve discovered it has potential for much more.
There are similarities to Diigo, Zootool, Delicious and other social bookmarking tools in that it makes it easy to bookmark pages from your browser and tag them for easy access later. Bo.lt also acts a bit like Reddit in its discussion functionality and as you share and re-bo.lt threads, the comments continue and expand.
One of the things I really like is that as you click on each Bo.lt it doesn’t take you to a users profile first, it takes you straight to the web page. The user profile is then laid over the destination page for you to share and comment. Bringing the interaction within the links, not within the platform itself:
This is not only good for traffic (one less click to get from image to website, unlike Pinterest) but it gives your profile added exposure in that you’re there while a page is read, not forgotten about post click. For brands, this is really useful as you can Bo.lt an article, ask a question and have users interact with you directly without leaving the article – it basically changes every shared link into a potential blog post.
Bo.lt’s are made to share, not just bookmarks. Again this is where the interface proves to be clean and easy, minimising the amount of clicks I need to share my posts on multiple social networking platforms. As well as this each user gets their own unique URL which Bo.lt uses for social sharing. I’ll be interested to see how this is used for tracking and analytics as well as SEO going forward but for the moment, it does manage to at least serve as a handy touch of branding.
It’s still very early days for Bo.lt and I’m sure it’ll face the usual criticisms and lethargy given the amount of start ups trying to grab column inches. However, for me, this is a really strong start. There may be a lot of competition for my online activity but I can already see how Bo.lt is going to hold it’s own.
PS: The Bo.lt guys are also very friendly and helpful on twitter so pay them a visit if you have any questions or feedback @GetBolt