Like news media, brands need to curate their content too

May. 07, 2009 | by Antony Mayfield


We watch the online strategies of the news media especially closely at iCrossing, for a number of reasons:

  • They are in the front line when it comes to dealing with reality of moving from channel to network media models (it’s do or die time for newspaper brands)
  • The best operators in this area (like Guardian, Telegraph, CNN and the BBC) are innovating with social media formats
  • Our approach to creative / content is in a large part editorially-influenced, as we have a number of professional journalists at the heart of our content & social media team

So when we see the Telegraph’s online success story (it currently leads the UK pack for traffic) being discussed in the context of its search and social-influenced strategy of good curation it’s exciting.  Curation’s a highly useful concept and one we’ve been thinking about for a while. digital editor Edward Roussel, speaking to the Guardian’s PDA Blog earlier this year said:

The mistake we all made early on was thinking it was all about speed and volume, and really that’s wrong. Speed does matter, but as good as that is it’s the quality of your curation of content that makes you a good news organisation.

“Twelve or 18 months ago it was all about getting stories out but now it’s about how we tag, organise and curate those stories, how you combine them with info-graphics or SEO. That’s the key to the future of news on the web, and how you build the long tail.”

As we laid out in the Brands in Networks e-book, the challenges that brands face in moving aren’t limited to dealing with the speed of networks, but the longevity of content too (among other things).

Curation for brands means two things:

  1. Curate the content: So much offline and online content is created in a given campaign, but it is very ephemeral often. It exists in bought spaces and (yuk) microsites, before being discarded. A blog or similar platform can pull all of these elements together, curate them in a single place, making them more useful and accessible during the campaign and giving them a life beyond the campaign also.
  1. Curate the network: Brands should also effectively be aggregators of the best and most interesting things in the networks about themselves. What people are saying, related blog posts, videos and stories should be linked to, talked about. It’s a case of being the most useful place to go for information about yourself.


The Toyota iQ case study is a nice example of how this can work. The editorial part of this was the iQ blog, which touched on and curated parts of the wider UK launch campaign (Toyota’s RCA sponsorship for instance) while the Delicious account, YouTube and Flickr profiles / groups linked out to and pulled in the best of the content we sawback to the site.

This live curation is effectively just an efficient by-product of good listening by a brand. And that listening can of course inform live creative, new ideas that might help achieve a blockbuster moment in a campaign.

Obviously the same curation approach does not fit all brands and situations, but we think this is a pretty good model to start from.

: : Via Evolving Newsroom.

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    Comments (7)

    • Mark Hanson

      Jeff Jarvis has written a lot about this and this principle lies behind the Guardian releasing its code as they twig that reaching new audiences involves settling in new niche communities.

      One of the solutions for brands is making content available, findable, useful but building and leveraging relationships to increase take-up of that content eg building relationships with niche sites in a way that removes some of the barriers, integrates them into your strategy and encourages them to come and utilise your content.May 16, 2009 12:20 pm

    • Antony Mayfield

      @Mark - That's really interesting. I like the "blackholes of the web" description. Would I be right in thinking that the Guardian and the BBC are - as usual - leading the way in trying to change this state of affairs.

      @Tim - thanks a lot for the Henry Jenkins link - that looks amazing...May 7, 2009 02:55 pm

    • Mark

      I think it needs to be clear how content on other websites (or 'in the network' as it would be described above) gets copied (or 'aggregated'), given the attitude to linking displayed by many commercial sites; newspapers being among the worst offenders.

      I've written about this on a couple of posts including Being a good web citizen and The event horizon both of which are about how newspapers suck in links but give none out... 'black holes' of the web.

      Further discussion of this topic can be found over on this post that discusses what happened when AllThingsD paid Matt Haughey the 'compliment' of featuring his post on social media on their site. Well worth reading.May 7, 2009 01:57 pm

    • Knowledge Management is dead - long live Knowlede Management! | aldissandmore

      [...] iCrossing’s own Antony Mayfield talks about curation as a key area for success in the networked world on his latest post on the Connect blog. [...]May 7, 2009 12:25 pm

    • Tim Aldiss

      Knowledge Management is dead - long live Knowlede Management!

      I've often argued that the long time obsession of the gen-x'er - Knowledge Management - evolved into social media as a result of the tools available thanks to Moore's Law and the advances in technology allowing sharing.

      In my knowledge sharing workshop programmes I've also often had to dispell myths around the lack of importance in meta data from a search engine optimisation perspective.

      What I love about curation is that it reflects the useful elements of a passionate human activity that is so well represented by the librarians in our midst: classification.

      Despite the on-going furious innovation and inevitable complexities of the networked world, the principle of Occam's Razor still rings true. When content is created associating just a few simple words with that content will ensure its' longevity beyond our lifetimes.

      Henry Jenkins talks about this in his eight page serialisation of a white paper on the topic of spreadbale media over on his Confessions of an Aca Fan blog. 

      David Cushman talks about this in his analogy about how meta data can make the ever-deconstructable, reconstructable Lego Man.

      SO few of us may be the librarian type, but as we strive to find more ways to order information we may well find major search engines cranking up their meta data algorithms. It may only be then that we'll take classification more seriously.May 7, 2009 12:12 pm

    • Antony Mayfield

      "Can a serious commitment to news curation be fulfilled within a sidebar?"

      That's a brilliant way of putting it - and while news sites are selling their search equity and refusing to pass on natural Googlejuice theya re failing the network test... they aren't playing the game.May 7, 2009 11:29 am

    • Charlie Peverett

      As part of developing a Twitter feed to complement an editorial-led engagement strategy, it's becoming clear that one of the most useful things we can do is simply share good links within the topic areas, as we find them. It's a no-brainer - certainly an 'efficient by-product'. 

      The bigger challenge is integrating that with the blogging platform in a way that makes sense; that complements the user experience however you arrive at the site (including for non-Twitter users). And I haven't seen anywhere - news site, company blog or whatever - that's pulled that off yet.

      And incidentally, most news sites still fail the social test when it comes to linking to external sites within their core editorial content. Can a serious commitment to news curation be fulfilled within a sidebar?May 7, 2009 10:54 am

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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