Create Hype for Your Brand – Engage Cultural Curators

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.

Social Media Week – What a Rush!

Wow … what an amazing, busy week it’s been so far at Social Media Week Toronto (#smwto). I’ve been attending a lot of events, spread across the city, and thus have not had much time to write.

There have been numerous intriguing discussions and debates, covering a wide range of topics related to social media. How will the group buying phenomenon evolve? How are mobile and social changing retail? What are some great case studies of companies that are effectively engaging with customers? What trends should we watch out for in 2011?

There is, however, one overarching topic that has permeated throughout the week – social media ROI.  How can a company’s social media efforts be measured in an effective and reliable manner, demonstrating the true value of allocating time, money and other applicable resources?

I intend to share my thoughts on social media ROI, as well as other other topics discussed at Social Media Week, in the weeks to come.  And now, off to my next event …

Celebrating Social Media Week!

This week, several cities across the globe are hosting Social Media Week. Social Media Week is week-long series of events and seminars that facilitate conversation and learning about opportunities, issues and trends in social media.

I am very excited about the opportunity to attend a number of events in Toronto – and I will be participating in some online seminars as well. I am going to endeavor to provide periodic updates, through this blog, on what I’ve been hearing and learning at Social Media Week.

There are several things I’m hoping to get out of Social Media Week:

  1. Direct insights from people “in the know” on effective social media strategies. I’d really love to hear some case studies, and learn what the results were – qualitative and quantitative.
  2. Thoughts and examples of social media initiatives that have been effectively integrated with traditional marketing.
  3. Insights on where this is all going. What trends can we expect in the short and long-term?
  4. Connections!  I’d love to meet others who share a passion for all things social.

In addition to Toronto, Social Media Week events are also being hosted in New York, San Francisco, Rome, Paris, São Paulo, London, Hong Kong and Istanbul. Not located in either city? Not a problem!  A number of events are being streamed on livestream.