What An 80s Cult Hit Can Teach You About Curation …

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In the 1987 cult hit film Mannequin, a chronically unemployed artist landed a job decorating a department storefront window after saving the owner’s life. His partner is a mannequin who comes life at night – and together they create storefront window displays that get people stopping in the streets. It’s a tale of fantasy, but what if there was a way for your brand to create the same sort of irresistable display, no matter what industry you happen to be in?

Content curation is a hot topic these days, as marketing teams everywhere are starting to put more time and effort into building a strategy for how to pull together great content on a topic to add value for people. When I originally wrote about curation several years ago, I defined a curator as someone who helps organize information on a specific topic.

Recently I’ve been seeing more and more signs from a handful of smart social media and content creation sites that the old lesson of storefront windows may be making a resurgence through what I’ve started to describe as curated windows.

Curated windows are a way for sites and platforms to showcase some of the best and most compelling content from their communities.

Here are a few clear benefits that using these curated windows can offer your brand, along with three examples of brands that are already using them effectively:

1. Create a better first impression of your site and community by featuring the best content. (Shutterstock Curated Collections)

Finding stock images is a notoriously time intensive activity – you can spend hours flipping through images and never quite find the right one.  Shutterstock has a curator on staff who creates collections of images on relevant topics.  Her latest “Life is a Beach” lightbox is the perfect collection of summer images for designers working on promotions for the upcoming season.

2. Provide more value to users by adding more visiblity + credibility to their content. (Vimeo Staff Picks)

For anyone creating video that cares deeply about the quality of the viewing experience, Vimeo has emerged as the ultimate backup choice for creators wanting to avoid the assembly line chaos of YouTube.  Vimeo, for their part, found the perfect way to foster this niche community with their own “Vimeo Staff Picks.”  Similar to how your local video rental store staff from five years ago might have spotlighted great movies for you to watch – these staff picks showcase interesting and engaging videos on Vimeo – and the “Staff Pick” is quickly emerging as an online honor similar to being selected by critics at a film festival.

3. Offer a guide for any users of a site on what great content looks like. (Slideshare Presentations Of The Day)

Years ago, Slideshare launched a series of contests to find the “World’s Best Presentation.”  I have written before about my own experience entering one of those contests.  These days, the site uses its popular homepage to showcase some of the best content uploaded to Slideshare. Apart from being able to share great content, the featured presentations offer a visual reminder to anyone creating slides that there are definitely rules around what makes a great presentation.  The power of story, captivating visuals, big fonts – all these tend to be hallmarks of successful presentations … and sharing new presentations every day reminds anyone creating their own presentations what it really takes to have one that stands out.

These are just a handful of brands using this concept of creating curated windows as a way to engage their users and showcase great content.  It is a model that I believe more startups will be using as people start to create content that is worth sharing and look for ways to get it in front of more people.  In some cases, this concept of curated windows may also open up new advertising and content sponsorship ideas for brands or individuals who want to get their own content featured in higher visibility locations.

Do you think curated windows offer other brand opportunities?  Are other startups and content sites already using this technique effectively?  Let me know what you think.

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