Goal Oriented Curation: The Next Big Thing In Social Media

Elad Gil has an excellent post which maps out the evolution of social media from long-form (blogging) to push-button (short form tweeting, retweeting and news feeds) through to structured curation (interest sets or boards).

As you may know I’ve been a big fan if curation for a number of years (see the 2009 Seggr Report) and the rise of curation sites such as Pinterest, Snip.It and Fab.com are validation that this is a growing area.

I particularly agree with David King’s point (as highlighted by Elad) that structured curation is not only creating a major point of differentiation for Pinterest et al, but is also blocking the big short formers like Facebook from swallowing their curations.

Elad titles his post How Pinterest Will Transform the Web in 2012: Social Content Curation As The Next Big Thing and he may well be right. But I’d like to posit that the really, really interesting area is one step beyond social curation. Social media for social’s sake is fast becoming passé. Social media needs to find a purpose and do so fast. So here is my prediction: goal-oriented curation is the killer app for social media.

In some respects Pinterest is a precursor to goal-oriented curation, but I’d argue that is does not go far enough. Just over the horizon sites like StyleSays are pointing the way.

StyleSays sees itself as “Pinterest for fashion and beauty products”. A user gets to save items into wish lists from any online store and then share those with friends who they trust and ultimately influence, in much the same way they would do when out shopping together in the bricks and mortar retail environment.

But let’s go one step further. I believe a really interesting application of goal-oriented curation awaits within the health and wellness arena. I can see how a well crafted site could both curate and influence positive behavioural change. A “Pinterest for health and wellness” may just be the next big thing!


Feed Your Social Media: Facebook Grows On Attention

I have been a huge advocate of feeds – they are an incredible attention grabber, able to keep users engaged and as a result drive up traffic on social media sites.

Take the Twitter phenomenon – and apply it to the real world analogy of being in a coffee shop having a conversation or penning an email when you overhear something – just the sound of a keyword or two can grab your attention away from your current activity.

Facebook cottoned onto this recently and as Eric Eldon over at VentureBeat points out, this has been hugely to their advantage.

Social Media Interaction Via Brandstreaming

Richard MacManus has a great introductory piece to the concept of brandstreaming over on ReadWriteWeb.

As defined by Pheedo, brandstreaming refers to the consistent flow of content created by a brand.

I believe that taken as a concerted effort and part of a portfolio of word of mouth engagement, brandstreaming is both a very useful identifier of brand influencers and propagator of conversations. It’s not a platform in itself, but a key piece of the overall social media brand puzzle.

[Picture courtesy of brentjholmes]

4chan: the counterculture netmeme

If you’re not already dialled in, the Guardian has a great article about Chris Poole’s influential message board – 4chan.

David Smith describes the site, which gets 8.5 million page views a day, as an ideas laboratory, capable of unleashing a ferocious creative force. It’s key value proposition is in pointing to what constitutes the current netmeme or zeitgeist of the moment:

Though most of what appears soon vanishes and is forgotten, the stuff that survives can easily jump to the wider web community and ‘go viral’, passing from person to person across the world.

Info Feeds And Filters: Bumping Up The Noise

Following on from my post about Silicon Valley being like living in your RSS reader, in which I argued that the noise can become deafening without the right filters, Marshall Kirkpatrick has countered with a great post on Why Online Noise Is Good For You.

He points to FriendFeed‘s recent addition of a “best of” filter, which allows a user to view only the items their friends find most popular. He also raises some excellent reasoning why noise is good. The term that resonates most with me is serendipity, or as Sanda Erdelez terms it “bumping into information”.

I am glad Marshall has raised the argument that noise is good. I totally agree with him. I could not operate without a high level of noise as it allows me to put my pattern recognition skills to work and create my own flow charts and trend analysis.

My filtering does not take the form of an online service backed up by a smart algorithm or two. Instead I like to immerse myself in the information flow, swimming with it and bumping up relevant noise for a closer look.

[Picture courtesy of maxf]

Flushing The Data Portaloo: The Looming Portability Squareoff With Users

How close are we to true data portability? It depends who is asking the question as to how it gets answered.

As one of the chief catalysts for the current wave of discussion and (some) action, Chris Saad, points out none of the current high profile implementations are completely true to the overall understanding of portability.

Writing on his blog, Chris sees Facebook Connect, Google’s Friend Connect and MySpace’s Data Availability as important first steps. They are the first shots across the bow to the industry that a data portability battle is coming.

That battle will involve a squareoff between the user: me, you – and the networks collectively.

I like Chris’s address book analogy:

DataPortability is about a different social contract – a contract more closely resembling the one found in the email address book.

My address book is my own. When you email me, or when you communicate with me, you are revealing something about yourself. You define a social contract with me that means that I can use your information to contact you whenever and however I like – I could even re-purpose my address book for all manor of other things.

If, however, you violate that trust, either directly or indirectly, you break the social contract and I will tend to not deal with you again. We can not perfectly engineer these sorts of contracts into systems – we can try, but in the end social behavior will be the last mile in enforcing user rights.

Also, the dichotomy between who ‘owns’ the data is false. In my mind there is shared ownership. While you use a service, it is a shared custodianship of the data. By giving the service your data you’re getting something else in return – utility. In many cases free utility.

You personally, however, have shared (and overriding) ownership over your data. This has been declared as universally true by all the vendors I’ve spoken to.

The question is not one of ownership though, it’s one of control. If you own your data but can’t control it as you choose then ownership is a mute point. Further, the question is not one of if you own it, but rather how much of it you own.

For example, do you own your friends profile data since you have access to it via the social tool you are using? Or have they only granted you access within that social context and under that social contract. These considerations blur the analogy of the purely personal address book.

So where does this leave us. The industry continues to engage in discussion and analyse the meaning of both data portability and the current implementations. As long as this dialogue continues the looming squareoff will remain just that – looming. We are in a honeymoon period in which users are coming to grips with their rights and freedoms and comparing the various networks to determing whether and to what extent they are being violated.

For now, data portability continues to have relevancy and I do not believe our rights have been flushed away. However, I would encourage all players to listen very carefully to the conversation going on.

As I’ve said many times: the Internet giveth, the Internet taketh away – and it can do both with blinding speed. This is especially relevant for Facebook, given the current meme around its intentions started by Umair Haque.

UPDATE: Robert Scoble has a sound analysis of the situation, after an initial misunderstanding on his part. Have a read, the best part is him putting his participation on the Gillmor Gang on mute, having a shower and then coming back on the show. I know it’s been hot in the Bay area the last few days, but this is hilarious and about all the GG seems good for – cooling off.

[Picture courtesy of willgrant]

Mozilla Open Data To Quantify Web Traffic

Michael Arrington has uncovered a very interesting Mozilla project that may change the way we perceive web analytics.

It seems like everyone has a “Data” project these days, but stick with me on this.

Mountain View-based Mozilla plans to track Firefox user habits on an anonymous, opt-in basis. The expected sample size is expected to provide a more accurate understanding of web traffic than the incumbents (Alexa, Google Analytics, Hitwise and Quantcast).

This is a move I welcome and would strongly support Mozilla prioritising this project up and when it releases, will urge other Firefox users to opt-in.

Buzz, Traffic and the Techmemeffect: Key Ways To Grow Your Blog Presence

Ryan Spoon has a great piece in which he analyzes the effect of getting your blog post onto the main page of Techmeme versus other social news sites like Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon.

It’s highly recommended reading for anyone interested in growing their blog presence through the Techmemeffect – delivering strong traffic from highly engaged and relevant readers.

Techmeme’s founder, Gabe Rivera, constantly tweaks the algorithm of what types of site get coverage so it’s no given you’ll get featured, but if you do: make sure your servers are up to it.

For example, he recently tuned down the amount of Techmeme time gadget blogs were getting. This has caused TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb, which both constantly feature at the top of the Techmeme leaderboard, to get a lot more traffic.

The takeout – get your blog posts onto Techmeme if you want to drive up your traffic.

Another way to increase your blog presence is through programs like Yahoo! Buzz. It’s similar to other social news aggregators – with set topics and features like Buzz up!, which allows readers to vote a story up the popularity rankings. The key benefit though, is that your post can end up on the Yahoo! home page – which will drive a ton of traffic to your blog.

[Picture courtesy of Mazda6 (Tor)]

Metarand Unplugged: Matthew Colebourne, CEO of coComment On Markets As Conversations

In this session of Metarand Unplugged, we talk with the CEO of Geneva based coComment, Matthew Colebourne.

As an aggregator of millions of comments across the web, Matt has a good understanding of how brands are beginning to grok that markets are conversations and that there is a huge opportunity to build deeper brand engagement through conversations.

Stream the mp3:


Stream the Session in Quicktime: