With backgrounds in journalism, new media and technology, it’s no wonder the co-founders of Storify, an easy-to-use social media storytelling tool,  Xavier Dammam and Burt Herman created a product that easily allows any user to curate and compile social media messages. When placed together, these messages powerfully capture an event as well as the community or global sentiment behind it, creating an almost immediate historical archive. At its foundation, Storify is simply a way to tell a darn good, not to mention totally share-worthy, story using the voices of real people. From major news publishers to citizen journalists to community managers, Storify is increasingly proving itself a worthy asset to any blogging toolbox.

An introduction to Storify

For those who haven’t yet been initiated into the cult of Storify, it’s a rather simple tool to use. First, sign in with your Facebook or Twitter account. Once you reach the homepage, click “Create Story” on the top right to begin crafting your social media story. Once you’re in, there’s actually a little pop-up tutorial that guides you through Storify’s features.

On the left hand side of your page is your blank canvas and on the right are your media options. You can search Google, Flickr, instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for users, hashtags, comments, photos, videos and any other content that will help you craft your story. When you perform a search, a list of modules containing the various types of media that you’re searching (tweets, comments, images, videos etc.) will appear. Simply drag the modules that you wish to include in your story to your blank canvas and it they’re automatically embedded into your story. Additionally, you can add and format your own text to provide greater context to your story.

The fun doesn’t stop once you hit publish, though. Storify makes it easy to share your story through social media channels and even provides you with an opportunity to notify users whose comments or tweets you’ve used in your story.

Another great post-publishing feature is the ability to embed your story into your blog. Simply click “embed” and copy and paste the embed code — there are even options to customize how your story will appear on terms of its header, border size etc. The “default” template embeds a story that looks like an article but you can also select the “slideshow” option, which actually compresses your story so that you can click through and only see one module at a time. For Google Analytics junkies, this may be a great way to increase your time on page.

But, aside from ease of functionality, how would Storify benefit your blogging and editorial strategy? Well, there’s a few great ways you can use this tool:

Take an example from the New York Times Dining & Wine section and use Storify to capture the voice of your community. Recently, the New York Times Dining & Wine blog called “Diner’s Journal: notes on Eating, Drinking and Cooking” asked their readers to, “share [their] tale[s] of kitchen-tool woes” by tweeting @nytdining with the hashtag #gadgetregrets. This single message catapulted a multi-series post capturing their vocal community’s often hilarious confessions of the tools they wish they’d never purchased.

On another note, if you’ve ever kept a keen watch on Twitter while a particular conference or event is happening, you’ll see those avid tweeters sending out snippets of best quotes, lessons and information throughout the duration of the event (often with a particular hashtag), so why not recapture all this valuable information in a Storify story for the benefit of your readers?

The best responses to the latest breaking news stories, serious or otherwise, often occur within a very short window of the event itself. Whether you’re part of an established media outlet like the Washington Street Journal and The Atlantic, a major organization like the UN or a citizen journalist who enjoys staying informed and helping others stay abreast of tending topics, Storify can be used to quickly collate topical information at a moment’s notice.

Storify’s promise of allowing users to “turn what people post on social media into compelling stories” has proven to be, well, compelling judging by its prolific employment by major media outlets and international organizations, as seen in the case of the New York Times and its use by the UN. Thanks to its ease of use and primarily its ability to increase social engagement, we’d say that Storify is a necessary tool for any bloggers’ toolbox.

Still have some questions about Storify? Check out their Storified FAQ.