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The Next Big Thing(s) for 2012 and Beyond? Structured Sets And Social Curation

January 7, 2012

Continuing with our series profiling some of the most interesting predictions we’ve seen in recent weeks, today’s post profiles a several thought pieces that caught our attention as a result of this post by  Twitter’s head of strategy, Elad Gil.  Mr Gil profiles his take of the evolution of social sharing and concludes that we have entered a new phase he calls “Structured Sets and Social Curation”.

We have posted several times in recent months about the importance of content curation/inbound marketing/content marketing (all terms describing the same phenomena– leveraging social media to share quality content that’s both value added to your target market AND highly relevant to your Brand Promise as a means to create awareness, interest, desire and– ultimately– action towards your product or service).

Mr Gil takes an evolutionary stroll through how social sharing has evolved (that’s business/consumer agnostic) that depicts a trend moving from long-form content (like blogs) to short form content (like Facebook and Twitter) to structured-sets, which is a fancy term for ‘electronic bulletin boards’.  He argues that social sites that make it ridiculously easy to share with a single click will become increasingly dominant in 2012, with sites like Pinterest leading the way.   In other words, Gil sees a world that requires digesting a great deal of text-based content within a stream or newsfeed giving way to visual-based structured sets.

The most interesting wave hitting the social web in 2012 is social curation.  This was kicked off in 2011 as Pinterest’s growth was noticed by Silicon Valley and a number of companies quickly followed suit – Snip.It launched as a social information curation platform, Quora adopted boards for a similar purpose, and Fab.com launched a structured social commerce feed.

In this blog post I will discuss the evolution of social media from long-form to push-button, the emergence of social curation on sites such as Twitter and Tumblr, and the move to structured sets of curated content on Pinterest and its brethren.

But first, the meta-trend….

Click to read the entire piece which also offers a brief, but insightful assessment of each of the following Content Curation stages
  • 1999-2004 Blogging Platforms
  • 2004-2007 Status Message Networks
  • 2007-2010 Push Button Interactions
  • 2010-Now Structured Sets And Social Curation
Gil concludes with this…
Summary: 2012 Will Be The Year of Curated Sets
2012 will likely see an acceleration of structured, push button, social curation across the web.  Why?  Because most users don’t want to take much effort to produce content, and consuming content in a structured manner (especially photos) is also much faster.  Just as the first wave of social media has transformed the consumption of information, this next wave of social curation will fundamentally change how users find and interact with content over time.
While  we are yet unconvinced that sharing pictures will completely replace sharing ideas, we do agree there will be a place for structured sets in the social sharing ecosystem and that 2012 will be a breakout year.  As oftentimes happens, a provocative piece will inspire a cascade of reactions by other bloggers.  This piece was no exception.   There was one commentary piece that we felt offered a great deal of insight for the driving forces behind this trend.  You can read it here.   Here are the cliffnotes:
The way I see it, Pinterest is yet another example of basic human behavior’s being transposed on to the web. Long before the Internet, we had newsletters and diaries. We had real friends. We used to go meet them in person, write letters to them, check out movie theaters and go to dinner with them. We sent people birthday cards. Of course, then came the Internet and we had WordPress, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.
Back when I was young, my cousins would cut out photos, ads and visuals from fashion and lifestyle magazines and create collages. We boys would create collages of scantily clad girls, cars, musicians and sometimes movie stars. We would buy used magazines for a few pennies to get the right image. We would put the clippings together and then stick them on the bedroom walls and feel very cool, because being able to create an awesome, colorful collage showed a little something about you. Now we have Tumblr and Pinterest and dozens of other such services.
Well, since everyone is using “curate,” why don’t we? Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr — these are all services that are about a major societal trend called hyperpersonalization. We are living in a society that is so homogenized that it is hard to stand out.

From the foods we eat, the drinks we chug, the jeans we wear, the bags we buy, the shoes we run in — they are pretty universal. As a result, we all want to stand out in this massive mass of humanity. We do this in different ways. In tribal cultures, features, bones and colors help everyone stand out. In modern society we do this by wearing earrings, bracelets, buying a certain brand of clothes or living a certain lifestyle. Like being vegan! One of the most extreme form of standing out — tattoos — is a way of self-expression.

The online world is even worse: Everything looks so similar that we do need to do something to stand out. And you can do that by building a carefully curated image of yourself that you are trying to project onto the world.

Our take 2012 will see two forms of Content Curation  1) the “content marketing” type we have discussed repeatedly that’s business/passion motivated and this new form of structured-set Content Curation.  We expect momentum behind the former to continue to grow as evidenced by these two recent posts (among hundreds)  “The Rise of the Chief Content Officer” and “Corporate Marketers Shifting Spend to Branded Content”.   The later will develop its roots via individuals who are sharing out of passion for many of the reasons mentioned above.  In short order, corporate marketers and New Market Entreprenuers will seize the opportunity to create awareness, interest, desire and action (commercialize!) this platform.  In fact it’s already happening.  Read some practical how to-do advise here and here.
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