The Curator News Feed: January 11, 2013

Another great week has flown by and it’s time for our Friday link roundup!

This week we are also very excited to share a new website we created with the talented folks from Cole & Weber United in celebration of our Seattle Seahawks playing in a second Playoff game this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons: http://voiceofthe12thman.com/. The site pulls tweets and Instagrams using the hashtag #voiceofthe12thman and will be streamed live on a mobile digital billboard outside of the Hawks’ hotel and at the game in Atlanta. So, from all of us here at Curator, have a great weekend and GO HAWKS! – Scott

At Disney Parks, a Bracelet Meant to Build Loyalty (and Sales), NY Times. Disney plans to begin introducing MyMagic+, a vacation management system that will change the way Disney World guests visit the theme park. A rubber bracelet encoded with credit card information will allow guests to purchase everything from a personalized, souvenir hat to a churro with the tap of a wrist. Little to no lines, happy guests and a whole lot more spending is what Disney officials are banking on. MyMagic+ will also allow Disney to track guest behavior, for the first time, in minute detail. – Jennifer

There Are 181,000 Social Media 'Gurus,' 'Ninjas,' 'Masters,' and 'Mavens' on Twitter, AdAge. Before you spend too much time thinking up a title for yourself, consider some of the numbers cited at the link: There are 21,928 "mavens;" 18,363 "gurus;" and 21,876 "ninjas." There are also hundreds of "warriors" and "freaks," and I have no idea what any of those things mean. You know what I think is going to be the hot thing in 2013? Giving yourself a title that's straightforward and reflects what you actually do. Like "social media butler." – Paul

Your First Screen Names, Illustrated, Mashable. Remember your first screen name? It probably had nothing to do with your actual name. Neither do the ones illustrated in this article. This is perfect for a Friday laugh. – Maria

NYT Dismantles Environment, Huffington Post. Sad. Clearly, the environment is still a concern in our world and reporting on it will still be done, but the financial environment seems to have pushed the New York Times to make this decision… – Dan

#Voiceofthe12thman Tweet from Bill Wixey / Q13 Fox, Twitter. – GO HAWKS! Enough said for this week. – Annie

Crowd sourcing local knowledge, PSFK. One of the reasons I love the concept of Couch Surfing, is that it empowers the traveler by giving them direct access to local knowledge. London is a wonderful place to visit, but it’s even more amazing if you can harness the insider knowledge of a resident. Obviously, staying with strangers when you travel is not for everyone, so I love the thinking behind Rennaissance Hotels Navigator program. By tapping into the knowledge of locals, Rennaissance hopes to give its guests a memorable experience beyond the hotel doors. – Matthew

Road Trip Dining Journal, My Cooking Diary. This week I stumbled upon My Cooking Diary, a blog put together by a SF-based graphic designer, Sharon Hwang. The photography is beautiful, but what I find most interesting are the illustrations. I was mesmerized by this particular journal entry, with drawings of every single meal Sharon enjoyed during a 9-day road trip from Vancouver BC to SF. – Ann Marie

A New Girl's Observations--Why I Came to Curator

I’m the most recent addition to the Curator family, which means I’ve spent the past few months throwing my shoulder into a job search. Coming from the New York City agency world and a newly minted Seattleite, I was looking for a firm with an awesome leadership team, innovative thinking, and a balanced culture. Curator PR stood out among a sea of other communication-based firms on the west coast. I’d like to share some shining reasons along with observations from my first days at the office.

The Curator Family

In the first line of this post, I originally wrote that I was the newest addition to the “team,” but that didn’t feel right. The people at Curator are like no others, putting company culture high on the priority list. It’s refreshing to find a team with unique traditions (i.e. Morning Coffee and what’s expected to be a new favorite, The Bachelor Bracket), collaborative nine to five music playlists, and even shared Pinterest boards! It’s clear that I work with a group that cares for one another beyond the workday. Their high level of integrity and genuine respect for each other makes life at the office feel like home (or as close as you can get).  

Thinking Wider

Curator is a non-traditional PR firm. What does that mean? Curator wants to be able to help its clients curate and participate in every conversation from brand to consumer, and vice versa. Instead of siloing the conversation in traditional media, Curator expands its practice to social media, experiential events, mobile, and digital programs. And if that conversation needs creative, Curator can design it! Being non-traditional means the people here don’t just think outside the box, but bust it open, unhinge the sides, and make an origami horse out of it. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to connect with the people that Curator clients care about more effectively than the rest.

Small AND Structured

I’ve had experience at small companies, large, and those in between. What I’ve learned thus far is that small companies tend to lack the consistent processes and training programs that large companies offer. Curator PR flipped that assumption on its head. Within two days of walking in the door, I accepted calendar invitations to bi-monthly training meetings in addition to a team huddle to discuss the 2013 vision of the company. I ate my heart out! It’s refreshing to find an organization that cares about developing young professionals, especially since I fall into the category.

They’ve Got the Moves

PR is stressful. Curator’s own Megan recently shared an article with the team about how high PR Executives rank among stressful jobs. Our industry is pretty close to the top, but you wouldn’t know it if you stepped onto the 6th floor of 419 Occidental. On my first day, I got to experience my colleagues handle a critical piece of communication for one of our clients with as much swagger and coolness as Mick Jagger.

Hard Hitting Suite of Clients

If you’ve scanned the website, you already know this, but for a three-year-old company to be working with some of the most well known brands, nationally and regionally, it’s outstanding. Enough said!

Focused on Lifestyle

There are thousands of books written about the positive correlation between success and disciplined focus. One of my favorites called Good To Great by Jim Collins proposes the idea that by finding a balance of what you’re passionate about, what you’re good at, and what you can be better at than anyone else in the market will bring lasting greatness. Scott told me about his vision for Curator to be the premier lifestyle agency in the country. He explained the caliber of work he wants to target and his commitment to expand when it’s rooted in passion instead of for growth’s sake. I recognized it as that sweet combination for success. In a world where excellence is measured by being bigger, more profitable, and quicker to do so, Curator stands apart with values that clients, partners, and employees can really count on.

 To sum it all up, I’m honored to hold up the “new girl” sign, which probably seems pretty obvious after this post. So, here’s to the next chapter with these crazy awesome people called Curators. 

The Curator’s News Feed: January 4, 2013

Reflecting back on 2012 there are so many experiences, opportunities and relationships we are thankful for. We feel very blessed as an agency to have had such a wonderful year full of fun and inspiring projects, and having the privilege of working with all of our fabulous clients.

As we now enter into our fourth year of business we are nothing but excited for all that is in store. And to properly kick off 2013, we’d like to share some of our own resolutions, as well as our first round of hot news picks from the week. Happy New Year!

Curator Resolutions

I resolve to remind myself to enjoy the blessing that is my family and the joy of spending my workday with incredibly talented people everyday.  – Scott

Write down 1 thing I’m grateful for each and every day of the year. – Ann Marie

Next year will basically be the last I spend in my 20s — I turn 29 on February 7 — and in preparation for the impending decade, 2013 is going to be all about forming good health habits. I started running back in July, so I'll be looking to keep that up, and I've also heard that eating things that aren't meat-, cheese- or bread-based is good for you. I'm eating a grapefruit as I write this, so I feel pretty good already. If you guys have any health tips, tweet me: @paulbalcerakPaul

I resolve to shop less, try more foods outside my comfort zone, travel more and really settle into being a Seattleite – Chelsey

This year my resolution is to run a full marathon. – Annie

I will finish the rest of my home remodel and my wife and I will get back on the morning P90X horse (yes, I’m using horse as a figure of speech. We don’t plan on riding a ripped horse) – Matthew

I resolve to have a stronger relationship and do more with my brother and his family – Dan

I resolve to find my way back to the gym and to read more books. – Jennifer

My New Year’s resolution is to stay in better contact with my friends on the east coast. With the 3 hour time difference, its often left to sporadic texts and voicemails, but I want to do a better job of actually speaking to them on the phone and staying caught up on their lives. I also want to join a barre class – and actually go to it. – Julia

Ah, the ever-frustrating New Year’s Resolution. Oh how I despise this tradition that sets 93% of the population up for failure and makes gyms and personal trainers a boatload of money. Instead of the quintessential resolution, I like to take a moment to reflect on the previous year and think of the moments that I’m most proud of, and what areas of my life, both personal and professional, that I’d like to focus on in the new year. I can easily say that 2012 was one of the best years of my life, and I am incredibly thankful for everyone that helped make it so great. Looking towards the future I’d like to continue to challenge myself every day, both personally and professionally, and consistently step outside my comfort zone, as that’s what made last year so rewarding. And I guess cleaning my condo more might be a good thing to work on, too. – Megan

Curator News Feed

Memoto Photographs Your Entire Life Then Sorts it Too, Fast Company Design. I'm kind of digging this, which is unusual for me in that I'm not often an early adopter of technology. You clip the Memoto "lifecam," on yourself and the little camera snaps and categorizes a photo every 30 seconds you're wearing the devise.  It's not something I could see myself wearing necessarily, but I'm loving the possibilities of using this devise in a campaign — perhaps for one of our travel clients.  Check it out. – Scott

Delfonics Ballpoint Pen, J.Crew. I love office supplies, and one of my favorite office supplies came from my mom over Christmas; it's this phenomenal ballpoint pen by Delfonics. I'll admit $10 (plus shipping, if you can't coupon your way out of that situation) seems a little steep for a pen, but it glides across paper like a skate on freshly swept ice and I already can't imagine going back to Staples' generic plastic offerings. This pen comes in five different colors — I recommend Curator orange. – Paul

Pen

Facebook tests VoIP, adds voicemail-like service, CNET. Facebook has rolled out a couple cool features for its Messenger app in the U.S. and Canada. If you're north of the border, the latest update actually allows you to make free calls to your Facebook friends through the app (that's "VoIP" -- Voice over Internet Protocol, the same thing Skype does). Those of us in the U.S. have a slightly watered-down version that allows users to leave voicemails through the app. I'm not really sure Facebook users will get much use out of leaving each other voicemails, but if the Canadian version goes worldwide, that could be a game-changer. – Paul

50 Most Memorable Tweets of 2012, Mashable. It’s hard to believe that 2013 is already here! Twitters popularity continued to grow throughout the past year, with an increase of 100 million new users. Here’s a look at some of the most memorable tweets of 2012. Happy New Year! – Johanna

California Law Addresses Social Media Privacy, NPR. Apparently, in some states, employers have been requiring job applicants to provide their social media profile passwords so that employers can check up on their prospective hires. Cra. Zy. No thanks; I don’t want your job that badly. That said, it’s interesting to follow this discussion as social media becomes more and more ingrained in our lives. – Dan

Using online video to its fullest potential, PSFK. Contrary to popular belief, Youtube is more than just a video sharing tool for all of your cat videos, it has increasingly become an interactive media experience. In the most recent Holiday Message from Maurice Lévy, the CEO of Publicis Groupe, you can get a feel for just what is possible. Plus, it’s just plain clever. – Matthew

PSFK Advertising Stories, PSFK. This article contains PSFK’s top advertising stories of 2012, which includes an elevator that’s wallpapered in cake; the now infamous Microsoft Windows 8 surprise dance party campaign in Norway; and my personal favorite, ad agency Casa’s Drink Time Sheet employee incentive program. It’s great to see the incredible work that other agencies are putting out, and also see so many brands embrace new, exciting ways to communicate with consumers! – Megan

Your New Year’s Resolutions, as Demonstrated by Cats, Los Angeles Times. This video seemed appropriate to go along with our team’s 2013 New Year’s Resolutions. On top of that, if you’ve ever been around our office for more than a day, you’ll find that we seem to have an odd fascination with the Internet phenomena of cats that has occurred over the past year or so. Now, I can’t claim that we’re all cat lovers here, but you can’t deny that cats acting out common resolutions is pretty amazing. The fifth one is my absolute favorite! Enjoy, and happy New Year! – Annie

Polaroid Angling For More Retail Exposure With 10+ Fotobar Stores In 2013, TechCrunch. Here's to Polariod for staying true to their mission of self-expression, creativity, and fun, even if it means continually reinventing themselves amidst bankruptcy and changing technology and consumption of photography. What if we all had that much determination and courage? Now, there's a 2013 resolution! I'm rooting for Polaroid this year. – Maria

The Curator’s News Feed: November 16, 2012

Rolling Stones

This week we’re sharing everything from Rolling Stones branding and guilt-free Thanksgiving dishes to mapped out election results and viral videos for brand promotion. Enjoy!

Advertisers Setup Bogus Storefronts to Skirt Seattle Billboards, Consumerist. This sheds some light on Seattle’s billboard laws and what that means for retailers and agencies… – Dan

Keith Richards These Riffs Were Built to Last a Lifetime, NPR. I'm not much of a Rolling Stones fan. I can absolutely appreciate Sympathy for the Devil and Gimme me Shelter — which are two songs I have on my iPod that I manage to find as the hills approach on a morning run.  But, what I am a huge fan of is building brands that last. And there is no denying that these guys have done something very right. A rock band that is still selling out stadiums and selling music 50 years after their inception is something to behold. 50 years! HBO is airing a documentary on the band's longevity I'm looking forward to. But as I listened to this interview on the way into work, I was struck by something Richards says about his bandmate Charlie Watts on their chemistry as they recorded a new song Richards was wanting to innovate on, "This record, to me, is one of the examples of what can happen when two cats believe in each other." There is so much that goes into building a brand — and internal culture, in my mind, is the number one priority. In this case, just two team members creating, getting weird and trusting each other. Love it. – Scott

Guilt-free Thanksgiving side dishes, Washington Post. I will NOT be counting any calories this Thanksgiving holiday. Turkey day is a time that most Americans let go of their strict dieting tactics. However, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a tasty holiday meal and still be healthful. These “guilt-free” sides are definitely worth a try! – Johanna

 Seal of Approval, Bon Appetit. The editors at Bon Appetit earlier this week released a list of, in their opinion, the 50 items everyone needs to have in their home kitchens. To create the list, they first identified the ingredients they had been cooking with and depended upon for decades. Next, they put the competitors to the test and held the ultimate taste off. In the end, some of the most beloved food brands including, Skippy and Heinz claimed victory. – Jennifer

Steve Jobs vs. Sam Walton: The tale of the tape, Fortune. “Who was the greater genius, Sam Walton or Steve Jobs?” Good question! We’re an entrepreneurial bunch here at Curator and all of us are passionate about building a great business. I loved reading this comparative look at the business minds who created the most valuable company on the planet (AAPL) and the biggest company in the world (WMT). – Ann Marie

Finding the Best Ways to Drink Beaujolais Nouveau, Gadling. Beaujolais Nouveau is a pretty interesting phenomenon. The wine celebration takes place on the third Thursday of November, no sooner as mandated by strict French law, and is the celebration of the release of the first early harvest wine from the Beaujolais region in France. I’ve lived in Paris during Beaujolais Nouveau and experienced firsthand the incredible joy and excitement that not only the French, but people around the world feel when this young, fruity wine is released. The parties and celebrations are great, although not sure about the wine baths in Japan…. – Julia

Maps of the 2012 presidential election results, University of Michigan. One of the most essential skills in the communication industry is to be able to take complicated information and make it easy to digest. The major TV news networks manage to screw this up about every four years, though. I'm talking, of course, about the Election Day map, which usually shows an ocean of red surrounded by a thin frame of blue, regardless of the actual results. This happens because we have several geographically large states with few electoral votes and several geographically small states with many electoral votes. And because I guess if you warped the map's geography to display population, TV viewers would change the channel. Fortunately, Mark Newman, a physics professor at the University of Michigan, has put together just such a series of maps, which make the election make a lot more sense, e.g.:

Map

Don't let this one map skew your view, either, though — it does a good job of displaying the country based on electoral votes (Pres. Obama = blue, Gov. Romney = red), but it doesn't tell the story of how close this year's nine battleground states were. Click through to check out more specific displays that use gradients to show where each candidate performed strongly or barely squeaked by. – Paul, by way of Shawn

If at first you don’t succeed, try a different country, The Guardian. In this world, and especially in technology, you have to innovate or die. Blackberry seems to be in search of a third option. With interest in their product waning in America, Europe and Asia, Blackberry sees the growing economies in Africa as potential new markets. It seems to me that interest there will wane just as quickly as superior products make their way into the market, but what do you think? Could this save them from collapse, or will it just delay the inevitable? – Matthew

OMG! P'TRIQUE MEETS REBECCA BLACK & MAN REPELLER!, The Platform. I recently saw this video again and aside from thinking it’s hilarious, I find the idea behind it to be really fun and actually effective. More and more we see brands using video to promote products and engage their audiences. This particular video is one of a large series of videos from The Platform, a YouTube channel/fashion blog featuring tutorials, trends and DIY videos on beauty and fashion, and is of course a parody, but this video features style maven The Man Repeller and singer Rebecca Black. In poking fun of the fashionista world I think it’s a really great example of how brands and companies can use multimedia channels to engage with people and simultaneously create or strengthen a community. After seeing these videos, I myself became a fan of the more serious ones too and follow their profiles regularly. The P’Trique videos are spoofy, but they make the audience laugh at themselves and embrace the quirks of those in style community. What I love most is watching brands like Coach use videos and viral internet sensations for promotional purposes. From both the professional and consumer perspective, I think it’s great to see brands playing around in that space and having fun with their products. – Chelsey

Instagram Takeover

Ever since I discovered the true beauty of a photograph, I have become a relentless photographer; desiring to capture every second, no matter what the occasion. The fact that a moment in time can be forever seized in a 3x5, 4x6 or 5x7 snapshot is quite amazing to me.  With the wide array of cameras, picture-devoted social media networks and built-in camera phones on the market, it’s easy to see that I am not the only one with a picture addiction. The world has a deep obsession with photography, which explains the increasing popularity of the “fun and quirky” smartphone application, connecting users through pictures.

In fact, lately it seems that Instagram is taking over the social media world. This application has over 100 million users and the number continues to grow. It’s completely free to the user and turns simple images into creative masterpieces.

Individuals are not the only ones Instagramming. Several noted brands have jumped on the Instagram bandwagon. Companies are using it as yet another social media tool to promote their brands, campaigns and connect with the public. Instagrammers can follow big brand names including, Victoria’s Secret, Audi and Starbucks to keep up with the latest happenings.

What are some of the ways that companies are building relationships with consumers through instagram? According to the Social Media Examiner, this is how brands are utilizing the application:

 Brand Showcasing:  Instagrammers get a firsthand look at everything brand-related, from new product releases to inside looks at different store locations across the country.

 Sneak Previews: Followers can feel special and their loyalty is rewarded with exclusive previews of unreleased products. To have their hands on something before the general public gives them a sense of exclusivity and helps generate buzz around the public launch.   

 Behind the Scenes look: Companies on Instagram are taking consumers behind the scenes to see where and how products are made. Some brands like Starbucks are even introducing their employees, allowing followers to see the faces behind the brand.

 Tagging: Large audiences can be reached and tracked by the use of hashtags for photos.  Brands that are promoting a product, campaign or just the company brand events can utilize hashtags to engage followers and also track the engagement when users use the tag in return. 

For now, Instagram seems to be dominating the photography-focused social media scene, but what will be the next popular social networking creation? Only time will tell.  

-Johanna 

Do You Have the Sticky Factor?

Lots of businesses are throwing their messages out into the world, but what makes them resonate?

Curator recently launched ThankYouChrisHansen.com (props to Shawn Herron for his creative talent), a campaign to spread the word and give a little thanks to Seattle’s famed hero in bringing back the Sonics to our city. Within hours the site had taken root and captured the attention of folks like Gary Payton, local news stations and dozens of Seattle Sonics fans throughout Washington State.

This has me thinking a lot about the ‘sticky’ factor. In other words, what makes some messages stick and others not? In my opinion, what made the Thank You Chris Hansen campaign work was dependent on a few crucial factors:

Relevance – The campaign appeals to an issue that is relevant and impactful in the minds of Seattle residents and basketball fans alike.

Timeliness – The campaign took advantage of launching immediately after a significant news cycle on the decision to build a new stadium to support bringing back the basketball team. It was additionally timed with the local F.X. McRory’s event (read more about that in The Seattle Times).

Uniting Towards a Common Goal – The campaign created a sense of its own community, gathering people who may otherwise have nothing in common and uniting them together through a common goal.

For a message to stick, the audience needs to feel like they are emotionally vested.  This was a key component of the Thank You Chris Hansen campaign because it tapped into basketball fans’ passion for the game and nostalgic memory of the Seattle Sonics. It generated its own subculture.

It seems simple enough, but the sticky factor of a message is still an elusive goal for which so many are still trying to write a formula from Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point outlining how the quality of an idea contributes to its ‘stickiness’, to Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. Despite these writings, marketers, advertisers and businesses alike are still challenged by competing with the other 3,000+ messages consumers are inundated with every day. Based on the current media landscape, this challenge will only increase. Regardless, I’m still so interested to learn about more case studies that conquer the ‘sticky’ message challenge and am excited to be a part of creating more campaigns that resonate with our audiences.

The power of presentation

In the last month, I’ve read several articles that explored nonverbal communication and some of the psychology behind the way people engage with messaging, specifically advertisements, and it got me thinking about the question of presentation versus message. We often see mediocre ideas and messages triumphing over higher quality content simply because the presentation wasn’t as effective. Our world is undoubtedly becoming more and more visual and the sound bites we use to communicate are shrinking. While this poses a challenge for people in the industry of communication and storytelling, it also serves as an opportunity to explore ways to captivate audience members through simple adjustments in overall presentation.

People tend to be moved by emotion, so it seems logical to start there when dissecting the tactics that convey messages successfully. An article I read on Street Directory discussed color and how different hues speak to specific emotions and associations of our subconscious. With the rapid growth and popularity of Pinterest and Instagram it’s clear that people respond strongly to visuals. But what makes one image superior to another? It could very well be the content of the photo, but often it is the quality and colors that move people to action (whether that be sharing, pinning, liking, etc.). I didn’t realize that I personally have started associating certain colors with brands or even industries. Take my phone, for example. I have all of my apps in folders and it’s actually interesting to notice how many of the logos are the same color based on category. Because we interact with logos and brand images all day long we subconsciously begin to link color palettes to specific functions. It’s funny to see and hear the reaction when these are changed. For example, when GAP revamped their logo and introduced a new black and white color scheme a couple of years ago, the public went crazy criticizing the changes. The company ended up reverting back to the blue version.

2010 GAP Logo Change

 

Similar to the silent language of color is the world of nonverbal communication. Facial expressions, gestures, posture, eye movement, proxemics (essentially personal space), paralinguistics (tone, volume, inflection, etc.) and appearance are all unspoken behaviors that communicate far beyond the reach of the actual content or words used. All of these components influence audience perception and decision-making, especially when the message includes a call to action. It really is amazing how influential even the most minor of adjustments to these devices can be to the overall presentation and penetration of an idea or message. 

I think of body language as like a person’s energy, and it’s totally contagious! I remember two distinct examples from past internships where one client meeting was led by someone who never made eye contact, was fidgety and very cold in terms of their behavior toward the rest of the group. The other meeting was led by a woman who looked everyone in the eye, shook hands, made gestures during conversation and was smiling the whole time. I remember being immediately captivated and excited to work with the woman from the second meeting based on her mannerisms and the way her actions made me feel both comfortable and important. I think in both cases the nonverbal communication set the tone for the meetings and directly impacted the level of engagement everyone in the room reciprocated.

Thanks to technology, these may not be top of mind or even applicable when the message is being disseminated through mediated lines of communication. But people still thrive on human contact, and that’s such a huge part of the work we do at Curator and in any field.

Pinterest: Social Commerce Powerhouse

Pinterest

One of the most exciting things about burgeoning social media sites is that we get to really dive into the implications of their use and help our clients decide whether they should engage there. As Pinterest continues to build its user base, (they crossed the 10 million unique visits per-month mark earlier this year – the fastest to reach this number in history) more brands are seeing the value of connecting with the public in this space.

One of the key metrics we look at with social media sites is engagement, a measure that is important to help distinguish “fans and followers” from true brand advocates. I’m sure you all have brands that you follow that fall into one of these categories. You may “like” Nike on Facebook, but when was the last time you noticed an update in your feed or commented on a post? In contrast, you may have favorite brands, like West Elm, that you engage with (and even promote) regularly.

The interesting thing about Pinterest is that it seems to have its own rules of engagement. In a recent Forbes article, the author explores a study that suggests Pinterest users are less engaged with brands than Facebook users, yet Pinterest manages to drive more traffic, influence more sales and encourage the purchase of high priced items.

So does this mean brands, particularly retail brands, can abandon mainstay social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter? After all, aren’t traffic and sales both the goal and true measure of success for a brand’s social media plan? While there is nothing wrong with boosting the bottom line with social media, don’t let a sale today distract from the value that relationship building can have on your brand’s success tomorrow. Social media is about connecting with people, and more importantly, about people’s ability to connect with you. My advice? Add Pinterest to your social media plan, but don’t abandon your fans on platforms where they are already engaging with you.

Speaking of adding Pinterest, we’ve just launched our boards here at Curator. Check it out.

Target - Curator Extraordinaire

Last night, as I was watching a DVRed episode of "Game of Thrones" (GREAT show, BTW), an ad popped on for Target, but it was no regular ad. It was one about The Shops at Target, which the company bills as "collected & curated for you." Right off the bat, I knew it was brilliant and would be a hit with consumers. It's also once again elevated the retailer to a new level in terms of brand perception. With a classy logo/mark and partnerships with trendy brands that include The Candy Store, Cos Bar, Polka Dog Bakery, Privet House, The Webster, New York’s Kirna Zabete and Odin, San Francisco’s The Curiosity Shoppe and Boston’s PATCH NYC, target is elevating its stores and over-delivering on consumer expectations. My guess is they'll be elevating their profits handily, too.

Some of you reading this may not be old enough to remember a time when Target was viewed on the same level as K-Mart and other "discount" retailers. Over the years, they've redefined retail marketing and are doing it again through tapping into the growing desires of consumers everywhere for a curated experience.

Bravo, Target!

P.S. Save me some goodies from The Candy Store. I freaking love that place.

The rise of the Super-Pinner

Now that Pinterest is officially the third most popular social network outside of Facebook and Twitter, it’s clear that it’s not only a platform with staying power, but one that’s continually evolving and shaping our conversations. At first, it was a fun way to look at pretty pictures and collect ideas for parties, outfits, home décor and fitness workouts that may or may not ever be realized. And for most of us (myself included), it still is. But now, a new super-user breed has emerged.

The Huffington Post writes, “Any ol' Pinterest user can post a pretty picture and call it a day. But creating a carefully-curated Pinterest page full of well-tailored boards, original content, and lots of interesting pins is a skill very few pinners have truly mastered.” These users have the most popular Pinterest pages by number of followers – the top “super-pinner” at the moment has 2,824,047 followers! It kind of makes you wonder how they became these super-users, doesn’t it? Is it really their amazing pin-curation skills? Or do they have 2.8MM friends who want to know what they’re looking at? Perhaps they are tapping into these 11 tools to help you be a “better pinner” (which is a whole other tangent we could go on here if we had space/time).

But aside from the individual pages that rocket some people into super-user territory, of course brands are tapping into the power of Pinterest, too. One activation that I found particularly interesting (partly because of the amazing photos) is by First Choice, a leading UK travel company. First choice created a contest called “Conflict of Pinterest” which, aside from the contest itself, is resulting in a beautifully curated, crowd-sourced pin board. The contest is asking users to vote for the country they think is the “most beautiful country in the world” via this cool infographic in an effort to create a desire to travel in general, but also change the way people perceive the idea of a "vacation.” If you look at most advertising for vacations (and most Pinterest boards on the subject), you’ll see images of pristine beaches, beautiful sunsets and amazing resorts. But First Choice is trying to raise awareness around the many other types of travel people can do beyond the resort. Understanding the actual culture of a place, what the people do and eat and how they live can be just as rewarding, if not more so, than lying on a sandy beach. Now that’s not to say that beach vacations are bad. But the point is that there is more, and First Choice wants people to know that.

To enter the contest, you can post on Twitter (an often successful, but not earth-shattering concept) or Pinterest, which is what really caught my eye about this (note that Facebook didn’t even make the cut). Users pin the “Conflict of Pinterest” infographic to a new Pinterest board they create named after the country they are voting for, and then fill in the board with beautiful pictures of that country. As stated by First Choice, “boards will be judged based on their curation, beauty, and evocation of the spirit of a place. Judges reserve the right to choose based on their own opinions.” So the Pinterest portion of this contest actually takes thoughtfulness and effort, as opposed to dropping your name in a bucket, and is completely subjective based on the judges’ tastes (Twitter is a random drawing). We’ve seen this concept with video contest submissions before, but Pinterest is opening up a whole new marketing concept with the idea of pin board submissions. With the incredible rise in popularity of Pinterest, I bet we’ll see a rise in this type of marketing campaign as well!