Curation has been a hot topic lately, especially now that celebrities are being paid to curate or “hand-pick” products they like so the brand can then offer products to consumers from the celebrity’s “personal collection”. While this approach is typically reserved for large brands with the cash to find celebrities with large fan bases and plenty of disposable income, curation is not out of reach for smaller companies. In fact, if you’re a smaller brand, not only is curation within your reach, it’s probably already happening and you may not realize it.
First, let’s define “curation” in the context of this blog post. Curation is the act of manually reviewing and filtering content (or goods) that meet a given set of criteria. Usually, the criteria is personal taste. The curated set of information is then available to others as a collection.
In a curated set, products may be related, unrelated, from the same brand, or different brands. They may have no apparent connection at all. That’s the beauty of curation –the collections are as unique as the individual creating them.
So before you rush off to build a strategy that includes your products in a curated collection, keep in mind there are several places where curation may already be happening. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest provide some great insight into who is talking about your products. And blog sites like WordPress and Tumblr provide an avenue to learn more about the people who like your products.
Of all the social media sites, Pinterest is best suited for what I call “casual curation”, a scenario where individual consumers take an active interest in content they find online. Casual curators organize their interests into collections, or boards, providing a clear view into their personal tastes. To see an example, search Pinterest for “audiophile” and you’ll find several nice collections from folks that are really into high-end audio gear. Some have a few pins, others several hundred. But regardless of each user’s engagement level, the point is that there are already several people out there with great knowledge of specific products that are curating collections online…for free.
As part of your product or marketing strategy, find out who is creating interest around your products (and your competitor’s). Then determine how many people are following them. This can give you a good indication of how much influence each curator wields, and help you narrow down the list of target curators to whom you should reach out.
Once you determine who you’ll reach out to, it’s time to act. First, you should thank them. Then you could consider publishing a link to their blog, board or page. Helping their influence grow will help you. Finally, if you find someone curating your competitor’s products, consider asking them to add your products to their online collections as well. It never hurts to ask. In fact, you’d be surprised at how receptive a consumer can be when politely approached by brand manufacturers and retailers.
But why should you care if anyone is curating your products? Here’s why:
- Products contained in collections on other sites will improve your search rankings
- Content and brands are made more credible when presented by subject matter experts in a social context
- Content gains more context as curators add their own thoughts and ideas around your products
- It’s always good to grow an audience that wants to know about your latest products. There’s a good chance they’ll share them with those they influence
With eCommerce set to double by 2016, online companies are eagerly trying to tap into the bigger, better products and the next big thing. Curated eCommerce focuses on the next wave of eCommerce, built around a new model of discovery and entertainment. And while not every company can afford to hire a big time celebrity to create a personal collection, they can certainly afford to discover groups of regular people that are casually curating collections that would interest their customers. Companies that are paying attention to the curation that is already happening all around them are best poised to increase their visibility and, in the end, reach and exceed revenue goals.