When most people hear "curation," they think about handpicking content in a way that is inspiring and authentic. The whole process of curation is about building on the voice of others, creating some bridges or parallels between thoughts, adding your own references or stories to make the ideas yours, and in the process make them even more compelling.

This process applies to the articles we read everyday. It also applies to the increasing amount of messages that come to us from social media, that convey reactions, ideas, raw emotions that we need to process in order to make sense of them. Any company which aspires to improve its product or services needs to do this. 

And at some point, curating conversations is crucial, not only to analyze what is being said and to address the most important conversations, but also to find inspiration. At the end of the day, as Kevan Lee of Buffer says, it’s always about taking inspiration from others

Except in the case of conversation curation, it works differently. 

Pay Attention to the Right Conversations

Before you can even start curating, as a social media manager, you need to filter the conversations so you only pay attention to the interesting ones. Filtering comes in the first place, as it specifies which kind of content you don’t want to put into your mix. It’s a huge first step, considering the large amount of messages aimed at a brand on social media which bring little value (whether it is thumbs ups, rants or just spam). 

It’s especially true for companies whose products allow automatic tweets and encourage it (especially apps or games). My company ran a small survey of over 150,000 messages. Depending on the size of the communities, and their level of engagement, the volume of noise fell between 19 and 92 percent. That’s right, 92 percent of all messages that would need to be archived even before the curation starts. Even on small social accounts, that’s a lot.

Create Open Categories to Learn About Yourself

Next comes the labeling. This consists in making sense of those conversations, how important they are and what they are about. That’s the most obvious step, which is all too often limited to tracking support or brand-related labels. This tactic is OK for large corporate companies that can't do more, but frankly not enough if you want to take the voice of customers seriously in your company. 

Let's take a basic example, and try to curate a few messages aimed at Buffer and dealing with Awesomeness.

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As the comment above shows, “Awesome” can be related to an answer from a Customer Happiness Hero, a piece of content, or first impressions about the product. Those are the key assets of the company, and it’s interesting to see how much customer service and content especially are valued.

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“Awesome” also happens to be the name of a plan, and it turns out there’s lots of questions about it: feature limitation (and some potentially useful feedback), price and upgrade (to keep prices consistent globally for instance). This is a great way to see how you plans are perceived, and what you can do to continuously improve. 

There is plenty to learn and talk about in those conversations, about the key assets of Buffer and the way the Awesome plan is marketed and sold. Conversation curation in that case is a unique way to leverage feedback to focus on what brings the most satisfaction to users.

Create Custom Conversation Feeds to Look for Fresh Ideas

Third level is about creative curation. This is looking for what you don’t necessarily look at on a daily basis. It is about building on the ideas that are shared with you, and that you can repackage in a way that is valuable for the whole community.

Let’s stick to Buffer. Below is a search for suggestions from users, posted on Twitter. Users love to make a wish, and sometimes it’s good to satisfy a wish. 

A few wishes:

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Sometimes making one user happy makes the whole community happy. It could happen once, it could become some kind of habit, always in some way surprising. 

Content curation and conversation curation could merge at some point, as surfacing the most interesting messages can benefit to the whole community. While it's become common practice to use tweets or comments in online ads or banners, but paradoxically enough, customer voice is not part of the regular mix of content posted by brands, and it should be. 

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image  by  Evil Erin