Vertical Social Networks Rocking The App World: Nuzzel

After analyzing MapMyRun in the Health & Fitness category in the first post of this series, we now shift our focus to the News category. Therefore we have analyzed Nuzzel, a vertical social network that recently has been emerging as an innovative way to consume news and trending topics from the internet.

Nuzzel is a social news aggregator, that uses big social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook to extract the most popular news articles from a user’s social graph. It basically aggregates content that is being shared within the user’s network in social media and feeds it into the app. Nuzzel also shows news shared by friends of friends, providing the user with an extended graph to get news recommendations from.

Nuzzel is an interesting example as it piggybacks the major social networks to become a relevant vertical network for news itself. To understand how Nuzzel leverages network effects, we analyzed its social user experience and put together our learnings in a presentation.


Key Takeaways

100% Social

  • The whole consumption is based on content that your social graph is sharing in social media.
  • Every shared article contains the pictures of your friends to increase relevance and credibility.
  • 2nd degree connections (friends of friends) are used to enhance content discovery (expanded social graph).

High Dependency on Twitter

  • Twitter is pushed as the core social login during onboarding.
  • As for now, Nuzzel seems to pull in the majority of news from Twitter.
  • Amount of content is significantly lower if user has not connected a Twitter account.

Customizable Experience

  • Nuzzel offers push notifications and emails as channels to distribute recommendations.
  • These channels are highly customizable. The user can set thresholds for when a notification should be triggered.
  • Besides the major news feed created by a user’s social graph and topic-based feeds, you can subscribe to other user’s news feeds to consume the content stream fueled by their social graph.

An app completely based on the social graph

Nuzzel tackles news discovery using the social graph of existing networks as the backbone of its experience. Instead of using complicated algorithms and explicitly asking the users for input on preferences, it takes advantage of the user’s implicit interests through her network and simply aggregates the news trending in her social graph. The huge amount data available in social media enables apps like Nuzzel to offer the user an interesting way to discover news content. Thus, this is a great example on how to connect your app with external social networks and take advantage of the publicly available data.

At the same time, Nuzzel is highly dependent on other 3rd parties. It doesn’t own any content nor the social graph of users. One might think Nuzzel should try to create its own social and interest graph rather early to achieve independence from Twitter and Facebook. Otherwise every restriction in the APIs of the two giants could cause serious trouble for the rising social news app.