The move beyond consumption is an important realization in the development of your social business: Content consumption without a direct consumer/audience role in creation—think TV, radio, print—is an interactive but not necessarily social approach to building a successful business. In a content-driven interactive media site, the content is the draw and the consumption of it is the primary activity.
In a social application, Curation is the act of sorting and filtering, rating, reviewing, commenting on, tagging, or otherwise describing content. Curation makes content more useful to others. For example, when someone creates a book review, the hope is that the review will become the basis for a subsequent purchase decision. However, the review itself is only as good as the person who wrote it, and only as useful as it is relevant to the person reading it. Reviews become truly valuable when they can be placed into the context, interests, and values of the person reading them.
s of the person reading them. This is what curation enables. By seeing not only the review but also the “reviews of the reviewers” or other information about the person who created the review, the prospective buyer is in a much better position to evaluate the applicability of that review given specific personal interests or needs. Hence, the review is likely to be more useful (even if this means a particular review is rejected) in a specific purchase situation.
The result is a better-informed consumer and a better future review for whatever is ultimately purchased, an insight that follows from the fact that better informed consumers make better choices, increasing their own future satisfaction in the process. Curation also happens more broadly, at a general content level. Curation is an important social action in that it helps shape, prune, and generally increase the signalto-noise ratio within the community.
Note as well that curation happens not only with content, but also between members themselves. Consider a contributor who is rewarded for consistently excellent posts in a support forum through member-driven quality ratings. This is an essential control point for the community and one that all other things being equal is best left to the members themselves: Curation “of the members and by the members,” so to speak.