All posts in “Content Curation”

Cut digital calories with

Lindsay Stanford is Director and Group Head, Content & Community, at Social Media Group. Follow @lindsaystanford

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little uninformed. It sounds crazy I know, in a time when there’s a virtual fire hose of information aimed at us, you would think that I would be overwhelmed with knowledge. Like many people of my generation, I don’t have cable or listen to the radio, I get all of my information from word-of-mouth or online.

Here is my biggest challenge with this method of data collection: I have such little time to dedicate to reading the news and there is so much to sift through, how can I possibly get the most relevant, valuable and important news in that time?

I recently scrubbed and listed all the accounts I follow on Twitter, reorganized my reader, added several apps like Flipboard to my mobile in an attempt to categorize the information for easy consumption. There was a slight improvement but I still have to check 3 to 5 places for information, so it hasn’t really cut down the time overall, just the time on each tool. I’m still finding that at the end of the day there are stories of importance that I have somehow missed.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and what I think I need is a completely customizable curator that will pull from various sources and give me the option of how I want to receive the information. I know I’m not alone and I honestly think we’re close to seeing something like this in the very near future. In the mean time, I’m checking out apps and tools that are presently available in hopes of get closer.

My most recent discovery is (they are owned by betaworks who recently bought Digg). is a service that collects the links to the top stories from your Facebook and Twitter followers and distributes them to you in an email or gives you the option to view the feed on their app (IOS only). They determines identifies top stories as those which are shared the most by your Facebook and Twitter communities. In that, there is this whole assumption of trusting your communities to determine what is worth sharing, and in this case, what is news. As well the assumption that you are going to have similar interests in the informaiton you are seeking. I guess you could say the old ‘birds of a feather, flock together’ notion.

I opted to only have my Twitter account activated as that is where the majority of the relevant information I want is, and chose to download the IOS app instead of receiving emails. So far I’m really enjoying the experience. The interface is really simple and clean, the stories are what I would deem newsworthy and it’s got some really cool features that make it worth checking out.

One of the features I like is called ‘Paperboy’. If you choose to activate it, you will get a refresh and push of new articles when you leave your destination of choice. Essentially, you could get the news when you leave your house to read on the train. Brilliant! It also has a ‘Reading List’ feature, so if you’re someone like me who has little time in the day to read a whole article, you can easily add the article to your Reading List for reading when you have more time. The app also allows you to share the news through Facebook and Twitter if you like.

I’m quite impressed with and will see if, over the next few weeks, it gives me the information I’m looking in what little free time I have available.

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think. Additionally, if you have other tools you would like to suggest, I’m always up for trying out something new.


The Next Wave of Visual Content Curation

Last month, during Social Media Week, SMG hosted an Ignite-inspired event called Spark. I was thrilled to be one of the six speakers and chose to speak about a topic near and dear to me: Vistual Content Curation. Over the past year, visual content curation sites have been making some big waves. The most popular are Instagram, Tumblr and, of course, the new kid on the block, Pinterest. In my presentation I spoke about how brands are leveraging these platforms to engage with users and showcase their products. I also gave some data points about the number of users on each platform; Instagram had 15 million users, Tumblr had 44.3 million blogs and Pinterest had broken the 10 million-user mark with 11.7 million.  To me, a month in internet land is like six months in real life, and some exciting and interesting news has been announced in that short time that will really push these visual content curation platforms further into the mainstream spotlight.

Instagram announced last week they have reached 27 million users on the iOS-only app, nearly doubling their user base in two months! With more and more brands utilizing the application to promote products and integrating the API for content creation, the pressure to expand to more mobile devises is on. There have been rumours swirling for months of Instagram expanding to an Andriod app but last week at SXSW they announced it was in beta testing and would be coming “very soon”.

Tumblr boasts 48.6 million blogs to date and recently rolled out their ‘highlighted posts‘ feature early last month. Well-known for not wanting to integrate advertising to the platform, Tumblr has struggled to turn a profit. The highlighted posts feature could be a way to remedy this and get brands to pay for their posts to be featured. Essentially, for one dollar you can mark a post ‘highlighted’ and it will show up on the dashboard with a customizable sticker. This announcement was received with mixed reviews. Understanding and commending the desire to keep Tumblr authentic for artistic expression, some still feel that ‘highlighting’ is the same as advertising.

Pinterest, which estimates to be at 13 million users,  announced last week at SXSW that it would soon be introducing new and improved profile pages which were launched Friday. The profile esthetic is very similar to the new Facebook timeline, clean and visual with less content, and allows for larger images to be visible on the profile. For brands, this is an exciting opportunity to create a customized brand experience in an interface that users are familiar with. The infograph below has some really great information the growth of the platform and features brands that are seeing success on Pinterest.

What can we expect in the coming months as these content curation platforms continue to grow and more and more brands get on board? How can you leverage your brand now on these exciting platforms and prepare for what’s to come? Check out my full presentation from Spark to inspire and ignite your content:



Some interesting points on Pinterest:

The Power of Pinterest


How Brands Become Publishers in a Media Tidal Wave

tidal wave

James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @jamescooper

In the beginning, there were brands. Some of these brands were in the media business but the vast majority were not. Many of those in the majority relied on media companies to help them connect with their customers. That was then.

Now many brands are the media. What do I mean by this? I’ll start by pointing out that it’s nothing new for brands to be content producers—many have been doing it for a long time. What’s changed since we’ve entered the social digital era, however, is that brands have ever-increasing control over the content they produce and how they use it to connect with their customers.

Recently, as Amy Vernon of PBS MediaShift points out, there has been a lot of buzz about how “We’re all publishers now”, almost to the extent of becoming a cliché. This applies not only to individual bloggers and social network users but also to brands, especially those with deep pockets.

In his Silicon Valley Watcher post, Tom Foremski describes the mounting flood of brand media as a “media tsunami”. To avoid getting washed away in a total wipe out, it’s important for brands to stay at the crest of this media tidal wave.

How can brands ride the wave?

Brands need to focus on creating content that provides real value to their customers.

Ted McConnell, in his recent AdAge post, recommends that, instead of constantly trying to persuade customers to buy around every corner, brands should distribute content that gives advice, support and guidance to “help customers get where they want to go”.

In essence, brands can achieve this by making content that is informative, entertaining and/or instructional.

What options do brand marketers have for providing customers with
value-rich content?

  1. Do it yourself. In order to produce value-rich content like a media company, you need to think like a media company. Understand and use media industry best practices to create and distribute content that makes customers trust and like your brand, and come back for more.
  2. Collaborate with publishers and bloggers. Identify content creators with influence in your market and acquire their relevant content for branding and sharing with your customers. How this content is “acquired” can range from direct purchase to in-kind compensation with products and services.
  3. Partner with a digital agency. Work with a digital agency that understands the social and digital environment and has a proven track record of scaling content and producing results. The agency should help you create new content, and mine and repurpose existing content of value.
  4. Curate content. Creating new content is demanding and daunting for many companies. Content curation will help you find the best content related to your brand, enabling you to organize and package it in a way that adds a whole new level of value.

In closing, allow me to return to Foremski’s idea of an impending “media tsunami” by asking, have you turned your brand’s bow to steam headlong to the crest of the wave? Or is your brand sitting in a life raft while you hope and pray it will somehow surface on the other side?