So you want to build an Alexa flash briefing skill, huh? For the more technically minded, it’s not an incredibly tall order. But for the rest of us, following Amazon’s instructions on how to build an Alexa flash briefing seems daunting. But there is software designed to make this project more approachable.
What is an Alexa Flash Briefing?
An Alexa flash briefing is a type of Alexa Skill — which is like an app for Amazon Echo devices. Flash briefings are designed to be updated daily, giving the listener a quick overview of news, weather, comedy, interviews, lists or whatever else your customers might want to hear.
When an Echo user says “Alexa, what’s my flash briefing”, the Echo will respond by playing all the flash briefings installed and enabled within the Alexa app on their mobile device. For example, BBC World News and Digg have flash briefing skills, making it easy for users to catch up on news and trends first thing every morning.
Related Article: How To Build an Alexa Skill That Improves Customer Experience
SoundUp Vs Storyline Vs Effct
SoundUp, Storyline and Effct all allow users to publish and update flash briefing skills without coding. Think of them as website builders, but for Alexa Skills.At the time of writing, these three platforms appear to be the only functioning Alexa flash briefing SaaS solutions available. While this will almost certainly change over time, we thought it would be wise to compare these three competing products.
First up is SoundUp, a tool that lets users build flash briefings and publish their podcasts as custom Alexa Skills.
At the time of writing, SoundUp has two core features:
- Flash Briefing Builder: SoundUp allows users to record audio from a phone, tablet or computer, upload the file ( or files) and then schedule publication to ensure your Alexa Skill has content to last for weeks or months.
- Podcast Alexa Skill: If you have a podcast, SoundUp provides a platform for you to upload episodes as a custom, branded Alexa Skill for your show.
Additionally, SoundUp’s website indicates that their podcast Alexa Skill solution is just one of many custom Alexa Skill tools they’re planning to release, which is good news if you’re looking to make voice a serious part of your content strategy.
SoundUp has two pricing plans. SoundUp Now for $14.99 per month or $99 per annum or SoundUp Agency at $25 per month.
Related Article: 7 Things Businesses Should Know About Alexa in the Workplace
Storyline boasts a drag-and-drop interface which allows users to create their own Alexa Skills without the need for an audio recording or knowledge of coding. It has a multi-dimensional Alexa Skill builder that lets you orchestrate full blown conversations, as well as simple flash briefings.
Storyline have created a demonstration video which provides an introduction to how the system works.
Storyline allows users to create three different types of Alexa Skill; flash briefings, games and trivia as well as custom skills.
The platform serves up the following features:
- Drag-and-drop visual interface to easily connect “conversations” between your skill and its users (this feature is mainly for the sake of custom skill building)
- Browser previews
- Built-in analytics
- Flash briefing scheduling
For flash briefings, Storyline enables users to add posts every day or week and will automatically schedule them for playing. And the analytics feature can enable users to see the number of views and play for each flash briefing on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
Storyline has two plans. One is free and allows users to build and publish flash briefings using all Storyline features, except for scheduling. The Pro version is $49 per month and gives Storyline users the ability to schedule updates. Without this feature, you’ll have to manually publish updates to your flash briefing every morning. Additional Pro features include “dedicated customer success” and “publishing support”.
If your organization only specializes in delivering news, blog posts, podcasts, video or any other form of content, then Effct helps you to create Alexa Skill Flash Briefings. Similar to Storyline, Effct requires no knowledge of coding.
Effct is designed only to create Alexa Skills flash briefings. It allows users to upload their flash briefing in either text or audio formats. For audio uploads, Effct has a built-in normalization tool that properly formats audio for Alexa. Effct users can use their own audio recording software or they can use an online platform like Audacity. Once the audio recording has been uploaded, users can then schedule or immediately launch their Flash Briefing.
Effct also offer their own demonstration video.
Effct has three plans. The first is free. Users can build, host and publish a flash briefing. However, you won’t be able to schedule anything in advance using their free plan.
Next is their Startup option for a $5 one-off fee, that offers the ability to draft in the Effct team to set up your Alexa flash briefing.
And last a premium version at $20 per month annually, or $24.95 per month on a monthly basis. Premium allows Effct users to schedule flash briefing updates to avoid having to publish manually. Premium users also get dedicated customer support.
SoundUp, Storyline and Effct are all stellar options for non-technicals looking to break into the Alexa Skill space. As far as features go, they all allow you to build and publish flash briefings in a matter of minutes.
Storyline offers most functionality and customization, while SoundUp’s pricing is unmatched. Effct on the other hand seems to have a more hands-on team that’s ready to do all the (relatively easy) work for you for a very small one-off fee. However, it’s well worth noting that SoundUp also supports podcasts and is claiming to be actively working on new custom Alexa Skill building solutions.
Which Alexa Skill building solution do you prefer?