In the desire to be perceived as thought leaders, many businesses are focusing on a curatorial approach to their social media presences. But if you work in a creative team, an approach to social media that leverages your creativity can deliver benefits far beyond brand-customer engagement.
The rise of curation
Social recommendation isn’t new; marketers have long known the value of vocal advocacy. The difference is that now, a brand’s audience (or its followers) can register direct and extremely visible benefits from their advocacy.
Thus, curation is a valid, and valued, technique for gaining currency with audiences. We benefit from our own curatorial advocacy (which builds our credibility), and we rely on our favorite brands or businesses to sift through the web and point us to good resources, insights and opinions.
Little wonder, then, that many business brands have built large audiences using the curation approach. These brands are seen as leaders because they have the ability to tell the good from the bad, and they have market-leading contacts who keep them abreast of the latest developments.
In the curatorial approach, the network is critical, along with the brand’s ability to sort the dross from the diamonds.
The role of creation
While curatorial communication dominates some social media right now, it’s important not to forget the valuable potential of creation in audience engagement.
After all, curators curate creations. So when you make, do or say something new and valuable, your online presence will be more likely to be included in the curations of others. It’s the basis of viral marketing, but thanks to the nuances of social media, your creation doesn’t need to go viral to deliver value to your brand, or your team.
If everyone else is funneling or channeling information, those brands that create have a point of difference. When you make ideas, products, or thoughts, the information you deliver to your audience is unique.
Your creative work gives you the scope to engage customers, stakeholders, and other parts of your organization, by inviting them to join the process of creation and development. But more importantly for collaboration, creation allows you to share stories of experimentation, learning and application through social media, the company blog, industry events and so on.
That experiential information can form the glue for engagements with third parties, which, over time, can prove mutually and deeply beneficial. Such benefits could be something as simple as landing a spot in an invite-only beta test, or something as valuable as hearing about a bug that may affect you — in time to preempt disaster.
If you create, you have a lot to gain by sharing your experiences online, and connecting with others doing similar work. If yours is known as a creative brand, you likely already have followers and connections who are craving your creative insights. The question is: are you using that opportunity?
Striking a balance
How can you make the most of the opportunities for curation and creation in your social media activity?
Your team’s online presence may address multiple audiences. But whether you are concerned with engaging with customers, suppliers, or peer organizations, your team has a lot to gain by creating, as well as curating, information. This is particularly the case if your team is an isolated unit of specialists, or has a specific technical focus. It should be imperative for such organizations and teams to be directly engaged in the business of creation.
Connect with the creative leaders in your field. Share product development stories and updates on your blog. Invite creative third parties and peers to contribute their ideas for overcoming challenges, or addressing issues you face in your own creative process — and publish your own thoughts to get the ball rolling.
Traditional businesses may be concerned that asking questions or seeking advice from others, even peers, online has the potential to damage the brand. Adopting a strategy that encourages individuals in the creative team to seek peer input through their own online activity (as employees of the brand) may be a solution to this impasse.
Do you leverage creation in your online engagements, or do you stick largely to the territory of curation?