Curation helps brands make sense of the social media onslaught

May 16, 2011
Posted by: Jenna Woodul

If you’re focused on managing a brand, you’re faced with overwhelming waves of data advancing on you from and about your customers, prospects, critics, and competitors. No doubt your listening applications fill up quickly with the 24-hour spidering of posts, and associated charts categorize them as negative, positive, and neutral. While automation makes it possible to collect everything, our clients tell us the value of it all gets largely buried in the volume. In the end, what does it all mean? How can you use this information to help make decisions about the business?
And on another side of the equation, you’d like to provide valuable content to your customers — beyond information about your products and services. If you sell baby products, you’re looking for posts, photos, and perspectives that grab the attention of parents. If your product is high-end photographic equipment, you’d like to pull together the best and hottest comments professional and amateur experts are making out there across the social landscape. Respecting your customers, you want to offer them something that speaks to their lives and recognizes their passion. If you can provide your constituency with content they can use, your brand gets to bask in the glow of added value.

Humans best uncover relevancy

The value hidden in the mass of daily web content creation depends on the elusive factor of relevancy — which can be highly subjective. While many brand mentions appear trivial to most people, the management perspective can turn them into gems suggesting priorities for the next quarter or year. The real-time nature of trends and reactions demands easier access to meaning than you generally get from spidering hundreds of posts or scanning the listening application fire-hose. What’s really required is specific human attention and interpretation, focused on what you need to know today: What do your customers like? What are they asking for? What annoys or frustrates them about you and your products? How do people like your new commercial? Do they understand the features you’ve outlined in your product launch materials? How do they feel about your environmental practices? Is your customer service organization serving them well? What photos do they send you, and what does that tell you about them and about you? What tone do they use with you? Is it humorous, sarcastic, warm, indignant?
And if you’re aggregating content to present for your customers, how do you reflect back what you’re learning about them? You’ll need to sift through the mountains of possibilities and select items that validate what people are telling you — content that affirms and acknowledges what they value, and adds to it.

Curation supports insight

We’re all increasingly involved in a continuum of curation involving our friends and social media contacts. In a world where “everyone has become a creator,” we sift through the massive information that comes our way daily, paying most attention to the stories and threads curated for us by those we trust. Culling even further, we pass on a sub-set to our friends. We tag and aggregate and share selectively. Most of us are depending on this as a relatively efficient way to stay on top of what’s most relevant, what supports the most insightful perspective for us as individuals. It’s a people-oriented process.
Current and future LiveWorld solutions similarly focus on the human touch for curation — powered by technology that makes it more efficient. Our moderation and community programming staff meet the growing content challenge with a service evolved over decades of moderating content for clients. Human curation adds your brand’s perspective to the aggregation of customer or topical content. People, informed about and looking for brand priorities, can detect subtleties of tone and innuendo, accurately categorizing requests, detecting brewing issues, escalating (or answering) questions, discerning relevance, or just correctly classifying (and responding to) declarations of pure admiration. Going way beyond the simple classification as positive, negative or neutral, human curation can identify the best (for potential featuring on your sites or materials), the urgent (requiring immediate response or fixing), the incorrect (for correcting), the innovative (for product or service enhancement) — assembling all the elements of meaning toward then providing insightful and actionable business recommendations.