One of the more interesting events I attended during Social Media Week Toronto was an interactive discussion, “Cultural Curators – Creating and Controlling Hype in the Digital Age”, led by Daniel Berkal, Director of Knowledge and Insights at The Palmerston Group.
Berkal provided insights on how things, such as brands, events, people or news items, become popular in a digitized, connected world that is ridiculously abundant in media sources and information – all competing for attention. He encouraged the audience to think about what garners their attention, and more specifically who communicates or delivers relevant information to them.
It is an open playing field, with people often gathering their information from the same sources. Social media enthusiasts look to websites such as Mashable, ReadWriteWeb and TechCrunch. News junkies might turn to CNN or The Globe and Mail. Fans of celebrity gossip rely on the likes of TMZ and Lainey Gossip.
There are certain people, however, who wield more influence than others on just what becomes popular and gains attention in the online world – Cultural Curators.
According to Berkel, Cultural Curators have a number of common traits. Most notably, they tend to be spontaneous, open-minded, uncensored, truthful, accessible, confident and, perhaps not surprisingly, opinionated. Their voices, for the most part, are louder than others, enabling their influence to spread.
Content is king, and Cultural Curators are most definitely concerned about the quality of content they produce. However, it’s also important for curators to be connected with the right people, and have knowledge of the role each person in their network plays. They need to know their audience, and provide information that is timely, relevant and authentic.
They also, quite notably, engage with their audience – and provide them with information that is leading edge, ahead of the masses, to keep them engaged.
Using the above as a guideline, over time Cultural Curators become recognized and build clout, expanding their influence and their following. Now, the trick is for companies and brands to attract, engage and build relationships with the right curators for their target customers.