Articles Tagged with media

Curation’s Growing Value

Like many people, I was glued to my computer and smart phone much of last Saturday monitoring news of the massive earthquake in Chile and awaiting, with morbid anticipation, the possibility that it could trigger deadly tidal waves in other parts of the world.

As the predicted 4 PM arrival of the first tsunami on Hawaii’s shores approached, I turned my attention mainly to Twitter. Three years ago, it probably would have been CNN or the New York Times, but Twitter brought a dimension to the coverage that I couldn’t get anywhere else: thousands of perspectives from around the world.

A tsunami is a visual event, a fact made grimly clear to us more than five years ago when videos of the tragic waves that swept across Indonesia were posted on YouTube (see photo above). News junkie that I am, I wanted to see the events in Hawaii in as close to real time as possible.

Instead of clicking around to various websites or hunkering down with one and hoping for the best, I was able to monitor a constant stream of advice from people pointing their followers to webcams, live news coverage and reports from observers at the site. Most of these sources would have been unknown to me if it weren’t for Twitter. It was like having 1,000 eyes watching the media for me. Thankfully, the fears turned out to be unfounded.

No media organization would have delivered this kind of value. In fact, media organizations are hard-wired to do the opposite; an NBC affiliate would no sooner send viewers to a CBS station than a Ford dealer would send a prospective customer to buy a Toyota. But when the collective eyes of a geographically dispersed crowd are put to work without a competitive agenda, they can deliver a tapestry of views unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

Curative Value

This story dramatized to me one of the realities of the new media landscape that I think will have huge implications in the future: Curation is an increasingly important part of the information value chain. Wiktionary defines curation as “the act of organizing and maintaining a collection of artworks or artifacts,” but today the term applies equally well to information.

Think of it: A decade ago we had relatively few sources of news about what was going on in the world. Even in the first decade of the Internet, we still relied mainly on traditional media for the story.

Today, three billion people carry around pocket-sized devices with built-in cameras, many of them capable of capturing full motion video. Some of these smart phones can even upload videos in minutes to a server. It won’t be long before wireless live webcams are ubiquitous. No longer is our problem lack of information; it’s that we’re drowning in information.

That’s why curation is so important. Trusted curators who point us to the most valuable sources of information for our interests will become the new power brokers. Matt Drudge figured this out many years ago and a host of popular aggregators like BoingBoing.net, Digg.com, Metafilter and Fark.com have been building upon it with great success for more than five years. Twitter adds a new dimension because it introduces so many additional voices to the process. But Twitter is also imperfect; its great shortcoming is that no one can possibly keep up with it all. Another opportunity for curation.

Marketers should take this trend into account. Creating new content is important, but an equally valuable service is curating content from other sources. This demands a whole different set of skills as well as a new delivery channel. It also means ditching the “not invented here” mindset that prevents content creators from acknowledging those sources.

In a cacophony of voices, the leader is the one who can make sense of the din. That’s a role that any editor — or business — can play.

Meet Me At South by Southwest

My schedule at the big South by Southwest conference next week is packed tighter than a Tokyo subway car at rush hour, but if you’re in the area and you want to connect, drop me a line. I can always find time to meet with good friends. Here’s a link to the lineup of sessions I’ll be attending. That doesn’t include several evening events that aren’t on the formal schedule.

Author Seeks B-to-B Insight

I’m looking for insights and experiences in the following areas for the book about business-to-business social marketing that I’m co-authoring with Eric Schwartzman (Wiley, late 2010). If you have advice to share and would like to be interviewed for the book, please contact me. I’m particularly interested in case studies and field experience.

  • Market research
  • Gaining buy-in from stakeholders
  • Organizing marketing or the company around social marketing
  • Social media policies
  • Lead generation
  • “Social CRM” (customer care and sopport)
  • Best practices for measuring ROI

Tip of the Week: TweepML

Twitter Lists are one of the most popular new features of the micro-blogging service. Introduced late last year, they enable members to group like-minded folks into themed lists that others can follow. For example, you can follow Time magazine’s list of funny people or a list of NFL players on Twitter.
The problem (or benefit, depending on your perspective) with Twitter Lists is that you can’t follow every person on the list, only the list itself. The tweets of individuals on a list aren’t added to your main stream. That’s where TweepML comes in. This curated service gives visitors the ability to follow every individual on a list. So if you want to follow all 18 members of this list of b-to-b marketing thought leaders, you can do so with a single click.

The benefit of TweepML is being able to bulk up your principle tweet stream with people who share your interests. If you’re interested in simply driving up your follower counts, check out the lists of people who follow back. You can add a couple of thousand followers to your count almost overnight this way, although I’m not sure why you’d want to. Numbers for numbers’ sake is a pointless exercise.

Just For Fun: Those Wild and Crazy Goats

What? You’ve never seen a goat in a tree before? Turns out the evergreen argan tree is a favorite among Moroccan mountain goats because of its tree olive-like fruit. But trees aren’t the only thing these nutty animals can climb. How about sheer rock cliffs? Yup. Cars? Yup. Mama goats? Of course. These pictures will make you realize how very specific Nature is in designing animals for their environment.

LinkedIn Treasures

Ask a room full of college students and a room full of business professionals “Who belongs to LinkedIn?” and the results will be almost a mirror opposite of each other. Facebook is the social network for after-hours fun. In contrast, LinkedIn is for business professionals. It’s a buttoned-down, no-nonsense business destination with a two-color, text-heavy design that almost screams “Boring!”

LinkedIn is anything but boring, however. Its value as a way to establish and further business relationships is unparalleled, thanks to the unique services it offers. If you signed up long ago and forgot about it, I recommend you take another look. linkedin-logo

Like any social network, LinkedIn has personal profiles, groups, and the concept of “friends,” which it calls “connections.” Its most distinctive feature is based on these connections: a six-degrees-of-separation structure that enables members to connect to people they don’t necessarily know through intermediaries within their trusted circle. It’s the online equivalent of arranging an introduction.

Personally, I don’t find this feature all that useful, but connections are the core of other LinkedIn features that I do like. One is Answers, a section where members can post their questions about nearly anything to a select group of connections or to the entire membership. Answers is a great way to get questions resolved quickly, but it’s also a means to expose your skills. Believe it or not, some people answer more than 200 questions a week on LinkedIn. One reason for their generosity: the site enables members to rate the quality of responses and showcases the most prolific contributors in a Hall of Fame section (the all-time leader has answered an incredible 14,000 questions).

Company Research

LinkedIn is also unparalleled in its database of company information, but it takes a bottoms-up approach, focusing not on corporate leadership but rather on individual employees. If you need to find a specific person within a company or just check out a potential partner or employer, you can go in through the back door by consulting current employees. LinkedIn will tell you if you have a direct or second-degree connection to the people you seek.

Job listings go beyond the standard titles and descriptions to provide contact information for people within the companies that advertise opportunities. If a job interests you, you can click through to find out who you know at the company and then contact that person for insight or a referral. LinkedIn also excels at search engine performance. Its public profiles do so well on Google that they frequently outrank personal websites in search results. I don’t know the secret, but I suspect that the site’s system of internal links is partially responsible. This alone is enough reason to set up your personal profile.

Given all this career-boosting utility, it’s not surprising that traffic to LinkedIn reportedly doubled in the weeks following the stock market meltdown. Members can brush up their personal profiles by swapping recommendations with others, updating their qualifications and showcasing their expertise through integrated applications. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn keeps a tight rein on the applications it chooses to support, limiting the current selection to just 10 business-focused services.

While LinkedIn doesn’t have nearly the membership numbers of Facebook, its business focus is an advantage. The CEO was recently quoted saying that the demographics of LinkedIn members are better than those of Wall Street Journal subscribers. In troubled times, that’s a very good place to be.


World Without Media

While in San Francisco last week, I delivered a presentation to the New Comm Forum with a title that was meant to be provocative: “World Without Media: What Will Fill the Void?” The premise was that the existing media world is collapsing with stunning speed and the new media organizations have yet to develop to provide the kind of trusted advice that we have come to expect from these institutions. We are in for some scary times while we sort it all out, although I believe we will be better off in the long run. Please view and/or download the presentation on SlideShare.


Tip of the Week – Compress PowerPoint Files

Do your PowerPoint presentations swell to gargantuan proportions? It’s not unusual for image-laden slide decks to reach 15 MB or more, which makes them unwieldy to send. Some e-mail servers won’t even accept files that large. The culprit is usually images. Large photo files can total several megabytes in size, and cropping and resizing them doesn’t change that. There is a handy feature in PowerPoint, however, that cuts out unused real estate and compresses images into the size needed to display them on the screen. Simply right click on any photo in the slide deck, choose Format Picture… then the Picture tab and then click the Compress… button. Choose All pictures in document, select Web/Screen resolution and check the boxes to compress the pictures and delete cropped areas. I tried this on one large PowerPoint file and reduced the size from 13MB to 5MB. Your mileage will vary, but your presentation will always be more compact for it.


Just for Fun – World’s Scariest Bridges

bridgeIf the photo at right scares the bejeezus out of you – as it does me – then you probably don’t want to spend much time looking at this gallery of the most dangerous rope bridges in the world. “You can find a wide variety of these bridges in countries like India, Malaysia, Philippines, New Zealand, Pakistan, Nepal, as well as in the interiors of some other countries,” says the site, in a description that serves as a warning against traveling in those countries. It’s hard to believe that anyone would set foot on some of these contraptions, which appear to come right out of an Indiana Jones movie. Then again, maybe staying in the same place is worse.