Look for ‘Curators Needed’ signs –clues to your next job?

“The web needs editors,” someone remarked quite aptly when TMI (the acronym for that modern syndrome, Too Much Information) was beginning to drive people nuts.

Today the web needs curators more than editors. Lots of them. Corporate feedback sites are sprouting all over the place, so,

  • Who’s gonna sift through the comment streams for good ideas?
  • Who will prioritize which complaints need to be responded to before it flames out in other places?
  • Who might be the next breed of Principal Investigators –sleuths, rather than project managers– who turn this data into reports? And I mean well-written, business-case reports?

You will! (Or someone in India, if you’re slow to find these opportunities.)

As I continue to write about and support crowd-sourcing and citizen journalism, I come across many hidden ‘help wanted’ signs for curators. Not in Craigslist, but buried deep in the comments of YouTube, Facebook, the 98 heated exchanges at the bottom of the New York Times article etc. The 200-plus tweets and re-tweets with a hash tag (especially the tag #FAIL).

Yeah, I know who has time to read through these? CEO’s do, that’s who. And they are wondering why their marketing and PR teams are not telling them about it, despite all the analytics money being spent. The trouble with analytics and algorithm-generated charts is that they don’t translate into action items. A Curator with the attitude of an analyst) who can also come up with ideas will be hugely valuable in my reading of this trend.

I just recorded a podcast for GreenNurture on what crowd sourcing as an internal communications app might look like, and serendipitously ran into this story by Marc Gunther. Truly timely piece on curated crowd-sourcing by by Genius Rocket. (Wonderful headline, too: “Why 13,956 heads are better than one.”)

Why do I think this is timely and huge? I’ll give you three clues:

1. Feedback sites are big: And there are attempts to tap customer sentiments: http://uservoice.com

2. Customers are talking back. take a look at Mills Advisory Panel –soliciting feedback for General Mills customers. My Starbucks Idea – a great site for tapping into marketing and product ideas. But who’s gonna take all those ideas if it is another company? Take this comment:

“I am a Canadian partner and I have experienced a lot of frustration, confusion and grief since the new teas have been unveiled. The biggest concern is the lack of consistent pricing for tea lattes….”

It goes on with too much detail, possibly revealing too much inside info that would make some VPs cringe.

3. Wikipedia is a back-channel: Lots of  ‘Curators’ Needed’ signs hanging out here. Noisy debates go on in the Talk Pages, and looking at these in your vertical will tip you off to other things.

You get the point. Everyone wants to listen to the customer but there are not enough people who can translate the conversations into actionable knowledge.

Sidebar: If you are interested,in why social media is so ready to gather front-line intelligence within a company, check this podcast I recorded with Derrick Mains recently.

Crowd-sourcing: we are smarter than me

On to the second C I talk about: the wisdom of the crowds concept, and the belief that “the people formerly known as incompetent” can actually make great contributions.

I see this in organizations where everyone may not be a ‘communicator’ but there are many who can be Antennas, Filters or Connectors.

The best examples of crowd sourcing tend to be in journalism. Two great sites come to mind:

  • Oh My News – the earliest citizen journalism site that began in South Korea.
  • Spot.Us – a community-funded news site I came to discover this year and support.

However, in two other very different areas we see it in action:

  • Google used our collective results for influenza related searches and came up with the Google Flu tracker.
  • Starbucks tapped into its customer base with MyStarbiucksIdea

Bottom line: People will contribute their ideas and when they do it is up to someone in the organization to recognize it, map it, use it.

Quotes for the week ending 3 Oct, 2009

“There’s nothing quite as insecure as a television anchorman.”

Kent Dana, the news anchor for Channel 5 (KPHO) in Phoenix, and previously anchor of Channel 12 (KPHX), retiring after a 30-years work in the news business.

“This is the biggest investment we’ve made in a national launch … “This is not your grandmother’s instant coffee.”

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, on the launch of Via, the instant brew

“rather than submitting their images and videos to mainstream media organisations, they post them online on Facebook, Twitpic, or wherever their friends are likely to see them.”

Robin Hamman, visiting journalism fellow at City University, London, commenting on the social media use during disaster and tragedy.

“This whole things has been quite scary.”

David Letterman, admitting he had had an affair with an employee.

“It is a whole other universe of risk.”

State Rep Steve Farley of Tucson, on texting and driving, as Arizona considers a bill to ban it.

“… Which is another reason why news operations don’t publish all the good news we hear about. There would be no room for the rest.”

E.J. Montini, commenting on All the Good News Fit To Print.

“But you have to remember if you have a conversation on the wall, you could be opening up the entire conversation to the public.”

Robyn Itule, an account manager with Armstrong Troyky, a PR and Ad agency in Phoenix

‘Then out of nowhere this big wave, as tall as the sky, hit.”

A 21-year old woman in the Pacific Island of Samoa, on the devastating tsunami that hit the area, followed by an earthquake in Sumatra.

“There’s always truth in snark.”

Chris Brogan, during his presentation at New Media Atlanta, commenting on the back-channel tool, BackNoise, saying “always confront the thing you are fear most head-on.”

The “soft-tissue of all our consumers”

There’s an old, but relevant video from BringBackTheLove, about the failing, dysfunctional relation between two people –actually two institutions, Advertisers and Consumers.

More telling than this  story –a messy ‘breakup’– is the sequel where the advertiser, talks to his agency to try to repair the relationship.

At one point, the advertiser takes him to a flip chart and violently circles a messy diagram saying they could  “blitzkrieg the soft tissue of all our consumers!” Funny? Sure. But it’s also a sad statement of how marketers see consumers –as some thin layer of tissue.

Truth is, the consumer ain’t ‘soft’ (insert other 4- and 5-letter words like ‘dumb,’ ‘easy,’ ‘loyal’ etc ) as people think. She makes hard choices, whether wanting to pay $1.75 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or $1.07 for a refill (by taking in her own coffee mug) at Einstein Brothers. Empathy, not advertising, intimacy not infiltration will get through the soft tissue.

As the recession deepens, marketers will have to learn how to reconnect with their customers in more intimate ways, minus the lame, expensive blitzkrieg type tactics.

Quotes for the week ending 26 April, 2008

“He’s getting his ass kicked.”

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, on the ‘credibility’ of Jeff Immelt, GE’s present CEO

“Nothing, nothing, nothing is as disgusting to me as some old CEO chirping away about how things aren’t as good under the new guy as they were under him.”

Jack Welch, on CNBC, making up for his previous criticism Jeff Immelt.

“Don’t pollute Earth Day with irrelevant advertising.”

Editorial in Advertising Age about marketers’ attempt to saturate the day with “Hey, look at us! We love trees” type of advertising.

“No happy label on toxic or wasteful product will ever change its contents.”

Abby Strauss, NY, a reader of Fast Company, commenting on Green Business practices article (“Another Inconvenient Truth“)

“Change everything…except for your wife and children.”

A 1993 quote attributed to Samsung chairman, Lee Kun Hee, to his chief executives. He now under government investigation.

For the iced coffee drinks. Make them with ice cubes made from coffee.”

A consumer-generated idea on MyStarbucksIdea.com, that received 13,050 votes

“Phoenix is sprawling at a rate that seems to rival Moore’s Law.”

Matthew Power, in WIRED magazine in an extensive article (Peak Water) about ground water.