Curation: The key to online reputation
Those 'embedded' within the social media ecosystem have long talked of curation as the killer application that will provide the disruptive force to shift old-school industries into submission or 'pivot'. Recently, prolific naughties blogger Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion fame and now consultant at Edelman Public Relations refreshed the debate by moving it into the applications space from the social web. His argument was that, with the ease and access to apps, whilst the likes of the music industry have already been disrupted through free-to-stream music services that enable people to listen to curated pick lists, now traditional media outlets are being faced by a dilution of their brand through the curation of content from them through new apps for tablets and smart phones.
An Ancient Skill
The fundamental fact is that this type of curation is not new. In 1996, a small research project that then turned into a search engine called Google, provided an algorithmic curation of web pages presented to the user when searching for 'relevant' information (or simply one result if they were 'feeling lucky'!). Whilst the format has stayed the same substantially since then, with automation and algorithms at the heart of the service, it's a poorly-kept secret that Google employs thousands to make sure that the results expected to be delivered are maintained.
In the late 1990s, TiVo started enabling this type of curation of content on television, based on programmes watched, and enabling people to cut out or fast-forward through adverts. Television did not die; instead, new technology providers sprang up to provide different types of channels based on genres, with services like Virgin Media and Sky in the UK providing 'on demand' television.
In music, radio stations for years have been curating music choices, picked by DJs. Themed channels have also been around for a long time.
What has changed is the ability for anyone to curate some form of content or culture easily. In the same way that blogging on free platform enabled anyone to start curating information on the web and providing opinion on it, now the medium has changed to enable people to more easily (but yet not simply) create applications that can be downloaded to devices and share that curated content.
Curation in and of itself is not the creation of social media. Those with access to cheap and standardized technology – pamphleteers in the 1640s for example – were able to curate and present information. What has changed is the ability to reach a broad audience and, by association, be discovered by like-minded individuals, opposing factions (whether trolls or Governments) or potential customers.
The act of curation and the ability to curate is open to all, and that is the fundamental point. The scarcity value of information and content – whether it be music, opinion or indeed contact information – has been unlocked, never to be placed back into the box. Each and every individual with access to an internet connection and a device has the power to begin curation and stands every chance of being 'liked', +1'd or shared so that the message is distributed virally far and wide (or indeed to a small, confined community).
Marketing by Curation
No small business or individual professional today should consider themselves to be marketing themselves appropriately if they leave curation of their brand or online reputation to a third party.
Where once the purpose of a press release was to engage and inform the media (which at the time were the only channel which had the power and the reach to influence the people you wanted to communicate with), now it stands as a tool for search engine optimization to be directly discoverable as a piece of editorial by potential employers, partners or customers.