It’s an opportunity masquerading as a problem. “What we are finding is that the market as a whole is embracing the idea of curation and enabling their users to create thoughtful collections of content,” explains Curalytics Founder and Product Lead, Steffon Davis during a recent interview. “However, while that data is being collected, most companies don’t know what to do with that data. They have it now, but they haven’t started to unlock it.”
New York based, Curalytics, founded about year ago, gets raw curation data from customers and gives them back an analysis of “Taste Groups,” “Taste Leaders” and other information and related data that can drive the curation functionality for that site. “Within these communities we analyze time stamps to see who is curating likeable content first,” explains Davis. “ We call that a ‘Curator Score.’ So if a person can consistently curate content that other people end up adding to their collections after them, then they become identified as a Taste Leader. And that information is what a lot of platforms want to know. We enable them to measure them and find them.”
It is all about the content. “A user can start interacting with the content,” explains Davis. “They don’t have to follow anyone, they don’t have to friend anyone. All they have to do is start interacting with the content on a web site. It’s a way to create community outside of social connections. It’s kind of a content first approach to a community.”
Curation functionality is appearing across all types of ecommerce and digital publishing sites. Davis notes the types of companies that will benefit most immediately from the curation analysis are “ecommerce companies that have wish lists, or any ecommerce company that has integrated actual curation functionality that lets people create collections of content, music companies that have playlists and any kind of visual platform that has a “gallery” as a metaphor such as Flickr has galleries or customer Curiator, a community of users who build digital art collections.
Curalytics is a spinoff of a previous curation-oriented site called Topiat, where the four-person team of Curalytics also worked together. Davis articulates some of the fundamental insights they have gained from the work with the current and previous ventures.
Curation data contains the human, subjective elements that the internet is missing. “We see there are two types of subjective data. First, there is the ‘liking’ or the ‘thumb-upping’ which, from a data point of view, is like a warehouse, and everything they have ever liked is piled up in that warehouse. But contrast that with curation data that is a second type of subjective data. It can be much richer. It’s like looking into my home and seeing each room of my home and actually contextualize the content in my life.”
To see how taste is “distributed” is a key to understanding your community. “You need to power user analytics so that a site owner can actually see how taste is distributed across the community and start making these informed decisions about how they want to grow their community. And if you can’t see how taste is distributed, you can’t have that conversation.”
The war for curatorial talent is just beginning. “What we are seeing is the start of a war for curatorial talent. With Ebay and Amazon having made acquisitions in the curation space, and the explosive growth of Pinterest. The value of curation isn’t secret anymore. So our point of view is, if you want to build up your arsenal in this upcoming war for curatorial talent for your community, then you better start recognizing your curators and empowering them and making them feel special, wanted. And if you can identify those top leaders, than you know who to extend a welcome to. We enable site operators to do that.”
Individuals should be identified and serviced as part of different taste groups. “You can actually be a member of lots of taste groups simultaneously, which is verified at the level of the collection. And this is culturally significant. Because what that means is that you can actually be a leader in one taste group, but a follower in another. Which is what happens in real life.”
High engagement in curation does not make great SEO. “The content that gets the most page views is generally not the same content that people spend the most time curating. The super star, super SEO which is ahead of the long tail content brings people onto the site, but this is not the same content that has people spending time on the site and curating.”