Facebook Trending Topics, Twitter Moments, Snapchat Live Stories…you may not realise it, but social media companies are increasingly curating the content that we see on our screens. Snapchat employs 75 people to produce and collect content, as well as report live from the scenes of events. Twitter hires over 30 people across the world to manage its ‘Moments’ feature. Vine hires between 5-10 people to highlight videos on the app that may have been previously overlooked by users. Facebook has been hit by controversy after it emerged that staff in charge of managing the ‘trending articles’ feature were told to not include stories about Facebook itself or anything that could appeal to the US Conservative agenda.
Facebook claims an algorithm is responsible for listing popular topics on the site, but it is actually a group of young journalists, who are employed to write headlines and provide links to news sites. However, it’s not just Facebook- as we mentioned, Snapchat, Twitter, Apple and Google all have their own teams of journalists. Each journalist will arrive at the job with their own emotions, bias and views of what is considered ‘newsworthy’.
So how does social news work?
Twitter Moments uses trending stories, consisting of relevant tweets. The company says it chooses which tweets to use based on engagements, such as retweets and mentions. Apple News allegedly splits its curation process by allowing users to select what they’re interested in and then editors will shape the links which are shown. Google News has said that it uses ‘100% algorithms’. Snapchat focuses on hiring experienced journalists with connections; one job listing for an editor requires 5 years journalistic experience. In the run up to the US elections, the editor of Apple News has been vocal about his dislike of Donald Trump, retweeting articles criticising him. As a result, the consequences of a technology company getting involved in news curation means that they could be potentially alienating customers by showing a political bias.
What we can learn from how actively social media companies are getting involved in content curation, is that they understand the value of news, but avoid producing it. Instead, they prefer to attract new users and keep existing ones by curating trending topics instead.
What does this mean for content?
The use of humans in content curation means that they can pick up on topics that an algorithm may have missed. This could be a piece which provokes an emotional reaction, such as an article about animal rights or a medical miracle.
It’s also great news for the content creators; users who have had their video used in a Snapchat live story report millions of views, whereas a Vine highlighted video can expect thousands of new followers.
The development of new content curation tools on social media is just further evidence of how social media channels are acting as a gatekeeper for content; allowing creators to reach a wider audience.
How you can use content curation:
Content curation itself isn’t new. Tools such as Feedly, Storify and List.ly have been around for a while now. It’s only recently that social media companies have gotten involved, and the theory of curation has been put into the marketing spotlight. If you have a website, you can curate content yourself- a weekly blog post of useful resources or an email newsletter. If you are posting high-quality news sources, you establish yourself as a brand who is clued up on the goings on of your industry. You can use your own social media to curate too, just remember the rule of thirds: 1/3 of your channel should be about promoting yourself, another 1/3 dedicated to sharing ideas from your industry and the last 1/3 for personal interactions with customers.
At Pixus, we have a dedicated content team who are always up to date on the latest content marketing techniques. We can help you curate content and make you stand out as an established, respected brand. For more about how we can help, drop us an email or give us a call.