Calling the Curators: The Need For Thoughtful Recommendations And Careful Selections

Nicole McCormack / March 24, 2016

CurationShops2Last weekend I had a panic attack in one of those big clothing stores where everything is always half off and I feel like the oldest shopper. So now you know my age, I’m sure. True, I’m not classified as a millennial, but I am the primary purchaser for my household, and my household manages to consume an often implausible number of goods and services. (My husband has to frequently remind me, as boxes magically appear on our doorstep daily, that Amazon Prime means free shipping not free stuff.)

And this fine purchasing powerhouse of a machine had a panic attack in this big, hip, overwhelming store last weekend. I walked in with the idea of picking up a few “on trend” items to refresh my wardrobe a bit. But as I got about a third of the way into the store, anxiety overcame me. There were so many choices! There were clothes everywhere!  It was stifling, overwhelming, suffocating. I looked around wild-eyed, my heart rate accelerating and sweat starting to pop on my brow, and I marched right out of the store, took a deep breath, and quickened my pace in the direction of a boutique around the block.

I found refuge at my beloved boutique down the street from me, which has far less stuff but is superbly curated. With far less selection but a far more curated experience. I suddenly realized how much I value these curated experiences and how this feeling is quickly intensifying. This is why I let my Costco card expire years ago and have never looked back. I prefer the smallish local grocery store down the street.  Sure, they don’t always have the exact brands or sizes I need for my recipes, but their careful selection of products makes a trip to the store more enjoyable. And often, I’m delighted to find a new product I would not have discovered on my own but comes highly recommended by the produce manager or the cheese guy.  

Curation. Thoughtful recommendations and careful selections. The ability to surprise and delight with an unexpected offering.  Surfacing the best there is to offer, not just the most.  

As the world gets bigger and noisier, I crave curation. And I suspect I’m not alone. Let’s look at the world of digital content and social media. There’s so much noise. I feel like media flies at me all of the time. I go on Facebook, and while yes, I admit, I’m addicted to pictures of my friends’ kids, I’m overwhelmed by the never-ending flow of content and information—and the hodgepodge nature of it all. More and more, I hear a deep appreciation being expressed for the friends with an uncanny ability to wade through all of that noise and surface the things that matter. Or the editors and journalists who do the same on their Twitter feeds. The curators. The ones who help find the signal in all of the noise.

I’m hearing it from brands too. More and more, I’m hearing brands talking about not just reach (yes, yes…it’s still important) but impact and attention. About making a connection with their customers. About creating advertising and brand stories that are memorable.  

I recently attended a conference in Los Angeles called Digital Entertainment World (#DEW2016), and especially enjoyed a series on the future of brands and advertising. I heard a recurring theme from all four presenters: quality. Quality content, quality messaging and quality connections. No, not quantity, but quality. Not data, but creative. Art. Curation.  

Mia Goldwyn, Chief Content Officer at StyleHaul, talked about creating memorable content.  In a world where 56% of digital ads are ignored, she urged, we have to do better to get attention. She cited the Colgate Super Bowl ad (the one with the guy brushing his teeth) as her favorite this year. I agree. It had meaning.  It was memorable.  It made an impact.  I certainly turned off the faucet that night, didn’t you?!

Then Gregory Hadden, Executive Creative Director of Motive, gave an insightful talk entitled “What would George Lucas do?” (George Lucas being arguably the greatest content marketer of all time). In it, he talked about creating content that moves people vs. content that is ignored.  He implored the industry that, as brands turn away from traditional advertising and as content marketing grows, quality is far more important than quantity.  

In that moment, as I listened to an industry increasingly focused on quality (thank goodness!) and related it to my own personal experiences, it became clear to me why, when the phone rang over four years ago, and it was Flipboard on the line, I jumped at the chance to work here. Google can index all the world’s content. Bravo! That’s pretty amazing.  At Flipboard, we’re just hoping to curate the best of it. It’s for people like me, who wish to live a more curated lifestyle and for those brands who share these values. Our goal is to surprise and delight, to make sure that when you put your phone down after spending an hour on Flipboard, you feel all the better for it—more informed, inspired and ready to take on the world. No anxiety attacks here please.  No sweaty brows.  

~NicoleM is reading CMO Daily

This post first appeared on Medium