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#6 Social Curation - Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement

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This is the sixth report from our upcoming People's Insights Annual Report titled “Now & Next: Future of Engagement”, also available as a Kindle eBook and soon as an interactive iPad app. The report …

This is the sixth report from our upcoming People's Insights Annual Report titled “Now & Next: Future of Engagement”, also available as a Kindle eBook and soon as an interactive iPad app. The report will highlight the ten most important frontiers that will define the future of engagement for marketers, entrepreneurs and changemakers: Crowdfunding, Behavior Change Games, Collaborative Social Innovation, Grassroots Change Movements, Co-creation Communities, Social Curation, Transmedia Storytelling, Collective Intelligence, Social Live Experiences and Collaborative Consumption.

In each of these reports, we start by describing why they are important, how they work, and how brands might benefit from them; we then examine web platforms and brand programs that point to the future (that is already here); then finish by identifying some of the most important features of that future, with our recommendations on how to benefit from them.

Do subscribe to our email newsletter to receive an invite to download a free copy of the interactive iPad app.

Find out more: http://peopleslab.mslgroup.com/peoplesinsights/future-of-engagement/
Get the Kindle eBook: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D8ZZMDY

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  • 1. 6. SOCIAL CURATIONPeoples Insights Annual ReportNow & Next:Future of Engagement
  • 2. We are delighted to share that we will bepublishing the People’s Insights AnnualReport titled “Now & Next: Future ofEngagement” in February 2013 as aninteractive iPad app. The report willhighlight the ten most important frontiersthat will define the future of engagementfor marketers, entrepreneurs and changemakers: Crowdfunding, Behavior ChangeGames, Collaborative Social Innovation,Grassroots Change Movements,Co-creationCommunities, Social Curation, TransmediaStorytelling, Collective Intelligence,Social Recommendation and Social LiveExperiences.Throughout 2012, 100+ planners onMSLGROUP’s Insights Network have beentracking inspiring web platforms and brandprograms at the intersection of social data,citizenship, crowdsourcing and storytelling.Every week, we pick up one project andcurate the conversations around it — on theMSLGROUP Insights Network itself but alsoon the broader social web — into a weeklyinsights report. Every quarter, we compilethese insights, along with original researchand insights from the MSLGROUP globalnetwork, into the People’s Insights QuarterlyMagazine. Now, we have synthesized theinsights from our year-long endeavor in futurescanning as foresights into the future ofengagement.We believe, like William Gibson that, “thefuture is already here; it’s just not very evenlydistributed.” So, innovative web platformsin the areas of social data, citizenship,crowdsourcing and storytelling point towardsinteresting possibilities for brand programsthat leverage similar models to engagepeople. In turn, the web platforms and brandprograms of today give us clues to the futureof engagement tomorrow.In our reports on the ten frontiers that willdefine the future of engagement, we start bydescribing why they are important, how theywork, and how brands might benefit fromthem; we then examine web platforms andbrand programs that point to the future(that is already here); then finish by identifyingsome of the most important features of thatfuture, with our recommendations on how tobenefit from them.For the next ten weeks, we will publishthese reports one by one, then present themtogether, in context, as an interactive iPad app.Do subscribe to our email newsletter to receiveeach report and also an invite to download afree copy of the interactive iPad app.People’s Insights Annual Report
  • 3. 3What is Social Curation?Social curation involves aggregating, organizing andsharing content created by others to add context,narrative and meaning to it. Artists, changemakersand organizations use social curation to showcasethe full range of conversations around a topic, addmore nuance to their own original content, andset the stage to crowdsource content from theircommunity members.The rise of social curation can be attributed tothree broad trends. First, people are creatinga constant stream of social media content,including updates, location check-ins, blogposts, photos and videos. Second, people areusing their social networks to filter relevantcontent, by following others who share similarinterests. Third, social media platforms are alsocurating content, by giving curation tools to users(YouTube playlists, Flickr galleries, Amazonlists, Foodspotting guides), using editors andvolunteers (YouTube Politics, Tumblr Tags)or using algorithms (YouTube Trends, Auto-generated YouTube channels, LinkedIn Today).As a result, a number of niche social curationplatforms have emerged to enable people tocurate different types of content — includinglinks, photos, sounds and videos — into boards(Pinterest), trees (Pearltrees (video)), pages(Scoop.it (video)) and narratives (Storify (video),Cowbird). Some social curation platforms arefocused on specific niches; for instance, Learni.st(video) helps people curate lessons and Fancyhelps people discover cool things to buy.In addition, media organizations are using socialcuration to add depth to their programmingand media entrepreneurs are creating newmedia business models around social curation.News media organizations are curatingconversations around popular topics (TheGuardian #smarttakes) and important events(Al Jazeera War on Gaza, Facebook and CNNMedia, organizationsand brands curatecontent to drive socialengagement.Election Insights, Current TV Politically Direct).Entertainment media organizations are usingsocial curation to amplify the participationaround sports and entertainment events(GRAMMY Live, Oscar Buzz, E! Entertainment’sGRAMMY Heat Gauge (video), Fox MLB PlayoffHub,Turner Sports Ryder Cup, Fox Sports’Survival Sunday, ESPN NCAA Tournament ofTweets, I Heart Radio’s Twitter Tracker) andshows (X Factors USA, ABC’s Pretty Little LiarsSuspect Tracker, American Idol’s Fan Wall).Media organizations are also creating hubs toenable fans to connect with anchors and stars(NDTV Social, CBS Connect Lounge). Mediaentrepreneurs are building new types of mediaplatforms around posting excerpts from themost relevant stories from around the web(The Drudge Report, The Huffington Post)or linking to them (Techmeme, mediagazer,memeorandum, WeSmirch, Alltop (video)).Finally, changemakers, artists, entrepreneurs,and organizations are using social curation inmany meaningful ways. Changemakers arecurating stories to put a spotlight on importantissues (ViewChange (video), Human RightsChannel (video), Amnesty International:Free Pussy Riot Map Project, Global VoicesThreatened Voices) and provide support duringcrisis situations (Japan earthquake, Haitiearthquake (video)). Artists and storytellers arecurating social content to create new types ofartifacts (Band of the Day (video), The History ofJazz (video), On the Way to Woodstock (video),7 Days in September (video)). Entrepreneursand organizations are building curation-drivencommunities around specific professional niches(Venture Maven, Muck Rack) and sports leagues,teams and athletes (Olympic Athletes’ Hub(video), NBA China, MLB 140 Club, FC Barcelona,Team Great Britain, NY Giants), artists (MTVMusic Meter (video), Billboard Social 50 Chart)and even countries (Curators of Sweden (video)).
  • 4. Some of these curation initiatives have gainedsignificant traction. For instance, Pinterest hasmore than 40 million users and Huffington Postis amongst the top 25 websites in the US with 39million unique views and 37 million social actionsper month. The popularity of these platformsshows that social curation is an increasinglyimportant model of social engagement for socialnetworks, media platforms, and organizations.How does Social Curation work?Typically, social curation platforms can beclassified across four dimensions: the interplaybetween creating, curating and co-creatingcontent; the method of curation, through themesor people; the visual representation of curatedcontent; and the possibilities for participation.Most standalone social curation platforms(Pinterest, Storify) are built almost entirelyaround curated content, but others (Cowbird)use a combination of original, curated andcrowdsourced content. Social curation platformscreated by media organizations typically aim toamplify participation around their original content(including news reports, TV shows and sportsevents) through curation and co-creation, butsome, like Al Jazeera War on Gaza, focus almostexclusively on curation. For many changemakers,the value of social curation lies in showcasingdiverse point of views. For many artists, socialcuration is only the first step in creating originalartifacts with well-crafted narratives.Most social curation platforms search for andfilter content by keyword, then group relevantcontent into themes, and sometimes highlightthe most influential people talking about thethemes (Current TV Politically Direct, GrammyLive, Oscar Buzz). Other social curation platformsfilter content by people and organizations, thenhighlight the most popular content createdor curated by them (Venture Maven, OlympicAthletes’ Hub, NBA China, MLB 140 Club). Somesocial curation programs are built around serialClick to watch: The Olympic Athletes’ Hubcuration, with a number of people contributingor curating content in sequence (Curators ofSweden).Social curation platforms use differentvisualizations to showcase content. Streamscontinue to be the most popular visualization(Venture Maven, Oscar Buzz), but dynamic gridsare also becoming popular (GRAMMY Live).Some platforms filter content by location andplot them on interactive maps (Al Jazeera Waron Gaza, I Heart Radio’s Twitter Tracker). Someplatforms are organized as directories to searchfor and find people (Olympic Athletes’ Hub,NDTV Social). Many platforms use sophisticatedsocial data visualizations to display content (E!Entertainment’s GRAMMY Heat Gauge, CurrentTV Politically Direct). Increasingly, social curationplatforms are mashing up different visualizationsto create rich, interactive dashboards (Facebookand CNN Election Insights).Finally, different social curation platforms offerdifferent possibilities for participation. Someplatforms merely make it easy for people tomake sense of the curated content. Others alsoenable community members to follow people,vote on options, share content, add commentsor updates, and upload photos directly from theinterface. Still others add gamification elementsto the platform (Pac 12’s Battle of the Tweets),or give community members access to specialcontent based on the level of participation(Mission Impossible Flock-To-Unlock).Social Curation for BrandsAlmost all consumer brands, and manyorganizations, have started experimenting withsocial curation, by showcasing their own socialcontent, or social content about them, on theirwebsites.Some brands have started creating short-termsocial curation hubs to curate the conversationsaround their own events, like fashion showsClick to watch: Ushahidi Haiti Earthquake
  • 5. 5(Victoria’s Secret) and product launches (FordFusion).Other brands have created social curationhubs around events they are participating in.KPMG created the World Economic Forum Livedashboard to showcase the most importantconversations and trends emerging at Davosin 2012 and 2013. Taylor Made created a socialhub to help fans connect with athletes duringthe 2012 US Open Golf. During the 2012 LondonOlympics, GE tied up with NBC to track Twitterconversations around the Olympics.Another opportunity is to use social curationto create niche communities around a sharedprofession, passion, or purpose. For instance,in 2009, Microsoft created a unique B2Bcommunity called Exec Tweets, where peoplecould find and follow top business executivesfrom different sectors and engage with theirtweets.Now, several brands are pioneering powerful branded content programs by integrating original content,curated content and crowdsourced content. Pepsi Pulse has transformed the Pepsi homepage intoan interactive pop culture dashboard driven by social media, as part of its #LiveforNow campaign.The dynamic grid dashboard is a mashup of original articles about pop culture and live performances,content from Pepsi’s many celebrity endorsers, and relevant fan content, including content taggedwith #livefornow. Secret Mean Stinks Gang Up For Good uses a similar dynamic dashboard to mashup original videos and tips on stopping teen bullying with fan conversations and photos from a seriesof social media challenges for teens. iQ by Intel uses a sophisticated social curation system to mashup Intel’s own original content with content created and curated by Intel employees to showcasetechnology’s impact on our lives.
  • 6. Source: meanstinks.com/Source: pinterest.comFinally, many brands are integrating elements of social curation into their co-creation communities, andthe boundary between curating content and co-creating content is blurring, especially in the context ofshort-term campaigns.Social Curation Case StudiesThroughout the year, we have tracked the conversations around a number of social curation platformsand branded programs in our weekly insights reports and quarterly magazines; here are a few highlights.Social Curation platform: PinterestRead the full case study on our blog or on Slideshare
  • 7. 7Pinterest is one of the largest social curationplatforms with 40 million users. Pinterestenables people to upload, curate and organizeimages on theme-based boards and embed orshare these boards on their blogs and socialnetworks. People can also browse through othercurator’s boards, like or share images, re-pinimages to their own boards, leave comments,follow boards for updates and follow curatorswho share similar interests.MSLGROUP’s Gaurav Mishra noted:“Pinterest’s goal is to connect everyone in theworld through the “things” they find interesting,through their shared tastes and interests.Pinterest combines two powerful ideas: curatingsocial interactions into stories (Storify) andconnecting people based on their interest graph(Hunch)."For instance, blogger Joe Murphy uses Pinterestto discover new things:“I browse what others pin in common are as suchas books, travel, or products, for ideas to inspiremy activities, books to read, places to visit… [ForChristmas,] I watched people’s pinboards ofproducts they love or want very carefully for ideasto add to my shopping list or wish lists.”Pinterest has received media attention and,indeed, new users, for its focus on visual contentand for structuring content in boards as opposedto streams. As Pinterest super-user Drew Hawkinssaid:“With the rise of platforms like Pinterest andinfographic sharing etc., it’s becoming moreobvious that people don’t like to read. If a storycan be told with visuals, it has more impact rightnow. Pinterest offers that story-telling capabilityusing different boards that many other socialnetworks don’t exclusively offer.”The social curation platform has also attractedthe attention of marketers. As Huffington Postcontributor Joe Waters pointed out:“The heavy presence of women 25-44 onPinterest is what distinguishes it from other newsocial media platforms, which are generallypopulated by men 18-24. Here’s a site thatalready has the audience everyone wants: womenand moms who make most of the householdbuying decisions.”Brands have used Pinterest to convey their brandmessage (Whole Foods), to encourage people to‘pin’ their products (Barneys New York Valentine’sDay Wish List), to engage with prospectivecustomers (bmi Airlines Pinterest Lottery), andto engage with Pinterest influencers (KotexWomen’s Inspiration Day (video)).Social Curation platform: TheFancyRead the full case study on our blog or onSlideshareSource: itunes.apple.comFancy is a social curation platform that alsoserves as a commercial marketplace. Peoplecreate catalogs of things they want to own, sellor buy, and ‘window shop’ or shop by scanningstreams of photos and searching by category,price range, color and curated gift guides. Then,people can make their purchases within theplatform itself.The platform caters to a new breed of onlineshoppers, as Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst atForrester Research, pointed out:“The Web is very much about spearfishing andpeople looking for things they already know theywant—that’s why Google has been so successful…These guys are supporting the other audience ofshrimpers out there who are just looking for coolthings to discover.”
  • 8. In December 2011, the Swedish Institute andVisitSweden launched Curators of Sweden andinvited ‘a new Swede every week’ to run thetourism board’s official Twitter account @Sweden.Curators were nominated online and selectedSource: twitter.com/swedenbased on their profession, interests and theirpersonal tweets.Jeremy Stahl, social media editor at the Slate,noted:“The hope of the campaign is that every newcurator will share his or her personal experiencesof what it’s like to be Swedish, while illuminatingsomething about the broader culture.”The program has attracted plenty of attention,both positive and negative, for the Swedishtourism board’s open-mindedness anddemocratic approach, for the curators’ uniquestories and provocative debates, and for thecurators’ choice of ‘inappropriate’ language andtopics. Melissa Agnes, a thought leader on crisismanagement, noted:“In terms of social media transparency andcreativity, this campaign definitely takes the lead.With 69,000+ followers, its proving to be wildlysuccessful since, like a reality show, the worldis sitting on the edge of their seats to see whathappens next.”The program has been recognized by the PRindustry with two Swedish Golden Eggs andan international Gold Clio, and has also givenrise to a new format of engagement on Twittercalled Rotation Curation, employed so far by 70countries, cities, people and cultural groups, andcauses.Click to watch: Curators of SwedenFashion blogger Elizabeth Canon noted:“The Fancy allows merchants to “claim”products that are posted and sell them directlyon the Fancy. This provides the Fancy with arevenue stream, the user with a more seamlesstransaction experience and the merchant with ahigher likelihood of purchase intent.”Fancy earns a fee of 10% for all products soldthrough its platform.The platform further marries social curationand e-commerce with offerings such as theFancy Box, a subscription-based monthly giftbox featuring some of the most fancy’d items,curated by the fancy community; an embeddablebuy button for bloggers and publishers; and anaffiliate program that rewards curators.Fancy also incorporates social networkingelements such as a like button (called ‘fancy’),notifications and the ability to follow people,and gamification elements such as badges andrewards to encourage people to upload morecontent, explore partner stores on the platformand invite friends to join the community.Fancy crossed 2 million users and $200,000 inweekly revenues in October 2012.Social Curation program:Curators of SwedenRead the full case study on our blog or onSlideshare
  • 9. 9Source: mediabistro.comSource: iq.intel.comBranded program: Pepsi PulseRead the full case study on our blog or onSlidesharePepsi Pulse is a dynamic website that is updatedin real-time to showcase “the most inspiring Nowmoments” in pop culture, including music, sportsand entertainment, based on social popularity. Inaddition, Pepsi shares real time original content,including celebrity challenges and behind-the-scenes videos from live events, and invitesconsumers to add #Now or #LiveForNow to theirtweets, instagrams, and pins to be featured onthe Pulse.Pepsi’s partner NewsCred claims that it is“reinventing news – for publishers, brands andtheir audiences” by licensing and curating full textarticles, photos and video from publishers andcreating customized content experiences for brands.According to Fast Co.Create’s Joe Berkowitz,Pulse “embodies the marketing shift from admessaging to continuous engagement.”Brian Solis, a principal analyst at the AltimeterGroup and author of The End of Business AsUsual, noted:“Pepsi is learning, as every business in learning,that if you want to remain relevant with this newtype of consumer, you have to be where they are,you have to talk their language… [and keep] themfeeling like they want to be part of your brand.”Marketer and blogger Blair Smith believes thatPepsi can go one step further, and showcaseoriginal content to engage more meaningfully:“For Pepsi Pulse to be successful it has to gobeyond reorganizing existing content and fill thechannel with original content. Pepsi has to bringtogether its sponsorships, events, contests andother unique assets around the world into Pulse.But beyond that it needs to somehow make itselfindispensable to its key audience, finding spaceamongst all of the other social channels we use.”Branded program: iQ by IntelRead the full case study on our blog or onSlideshareiQ by Intel spotlights how people use technologyin inspiring ways, to showcase technology’simpact on media, life and the planet. The iQalgorithm sources content on technology’simpact on society from vetted online sourcesbased on social popularity. Then, it crowdsourcesthe most popular content amongst Intelemployees based on what they are sharingpublicly, and publishes links and excerpts fromthem, with original content from sources likeIntel Free Press and Intel’s Creators Project on atouch-optimized interface.iQ was inspired in part from thought leaderTom Foremski’s notion that “Every Company isa Media Company.” Foremski believes that weare witnessing a major business transformationand that companies “must learn how to publish,listen, and converse in a very fragmented mediaworld”:“Every company is a media company becauseevery company publishes to its customers, its staff,its neighbors, its communities. It doesn’t matter ifa company makes diapers or steel girders, it mustalso be a media company and know how to use allthe media technologies at its disposal.iQ is Intel’s answer to this challenge of creating aconsistent stream of compelling content. With iQ,Intel focuses on content that communicates thepower of technology and not the product itself. Inhis review of Intel iQ, social media thought leaderShel Israel noted:“All content includes technology but the focus isnot. This is an end-user publication and wouldnot appeal to deep technologists. I would assumea great many of the topics being covered involveproducts powered by Intel, but on the surface, thatappears to be besides the point.”
  • 10. Source: business.pinterest.comSource: iq.intel.comBlogger and social media professional MichaelKieran highlighted the benefit of this model:“At a time when we’re all drowning in content,there’s real value in having customers organicallyshare content that’s aligned with your company’smarketing messages."As a next step, Intel is building its owncustomized social curation software based on itsproprietary monitoring technology called SocialCockpit (video) and hopes to involve 5000+employees in the curation process.The Future of Social CurationWe believe that social curation will change howmedia organizations and brands tell stories andengage their communities in 2013.We expect news and entertainment mediaorganizations to experiment with new businessmodels tied to social curation.We expect news media organizations to tightlyintegrate original content, curated content, andcrowdsourced content to add depth to theirstories and increase social engagement aroundthem. Steven Rosenbaum, CEO of video curationplatform Magnify.net and author of CurationNation, argues:“The most successful curators include sites likeThe Huffington Post, that embrace the three-legged-stool philosophy of creating some content,inviting visitors to contribute some content,and gathering links and articles from the web.Created, contributed, and collected — the three’c’s is a strong content mix that has a measurableimpact.”We expect lifestyle and entertainment media togo further, and add a social commerce layer tothis three-part strategy, to create new businessmodels like Fancy that blur the boundariesbetween media and commerce players.We also expect more brands to create morepowerful social curation programs. Many brandsare already active on Pinterest and we are likelyto see new types of social curation programson the platform with the launch of Pinterestbusiness accounts and Pinterest-focused contentmarketing tools like Curalate. Specifically, wewill see many brands use Pinterest, and nichePinterest-like social curation platforms, for socialcommerce.In addition, we will see corporations andbrands that are already committed to seriouslong-term branded content programs (LVMHNowness, Coca Cola Journey, American ExpressOpenForum, Qualcomm Spark, Cisco Network,IBM Smarter Planet,HSBC Business WithoutBorders) to follow the example of mediaorganizations. We expect them, and many others,to design branded content programs (like PepsiPulse, iQ by Intel and Secret Gang Up For Good)that have specific strategies for creating long-form original content artifacts, using them asprovocations to curate and crowdsource short-form content, then creating new long-formcontent artifacts from such short-form content.
  • 11. 11Click to watch: Storyful – It’s all about peopleFinally, we expect a number of startups to createsocial curation products for brands and mediaorganizations. Products like Storyful (video),News Cred (video) and Swift River (video) focuson media organizations and specialize in curatingand syndicating the most relevant content. Otherproducts like Percolate (video), Mass Relevance(video), CurationStation (video), Olapic (video)and Publish This (video) target entertainmentmedia organizations, corporations and brands,and offer features to drive social engagement.To address this big opportunity, we are creatingour own proprietary social curation softwarethat will source the most relevant stories on atopic from vetted sources, rank them based onsocial popularity on a private dashboard, andenable human curators to publish them on socialnetworks, email newsletters, mobile apps andtouch-enabled dynamic web magazines, anddrive social engagement around them.
  • 12. Learn more about us at:peopleslab.mslgroup.com | twitter.com/peopleslabPeople’s Lab is MSLGROUP’s proprietarycrowdsourcing platform and approach thathelps organizations tap into people’s insights forinnovation, storytelling and change.The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platformhelps organizations build and nurture publicor private, web or mobile, hosted or whitelabel communities around four pre-configuredapplication areas: Expertise Request Network,Innovation Challenge Network, Research &Insights Network and Contest & ActivationNetwork. Our community and gaming featuresencourage people to share rich content, vote/comment on other people’s content andcollaborate to find innovative solutions.The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platformand approach forms the core of our distinctiveinsights and foresight approach, which consistsof four elements: organic conversation analysis,MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client-specific insights communities, and ethnographicdeep dives into these communities. The People’sInsights Quarterly Magazines showcase ourcapability in crowdsourcing and analyzinginsights from conversations and communities.People’s Lab:CrowdsourcingInnovation & Insights
  • 13. Write to us to start a conversation on the future of engagement.:Pascal Beucler,SVP & Chief Strategy Officer(pascal.beucler@mslgroup.com)Janelle Dixon,North America Head of Insights(janelle.dixon@mslgroup.com)Dominic Payling,Europe Head of Insights(dominic.payling@mslgroup.com)Gaurav Mishra,Asia Head of Insights(gaurav.mishra@mslgroup.com)mslgroup.com | twitter.com/msl_groupMSLGROUP is Publicis Groupes strategiccommunications and engagement group,advisors in all aspects of communicationstrategy: from consumer PR to financialcommunications, from public affairs toreputation management and from crisiscommunications to event management.With more than 3,700 people, its offices span22 countries. Adding affiliates and partnersinto the equation, MSLGROUPs reachincreases to 4,000 employees in 83 countries.Today the largest PR and Engagementnetwork in Europe, Greater China and India, thegroup offers strategic planning and counsel,insight-guided thinking and big, compellingideas – followed by thorough execution.