Best of the Web or Death by Aggregation? Why don’t brands curate the news?

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Every day, your email inbox is stuffed with a mixture of important to completely undesirable mails. Gmail has done a stellar job of helping to organize these, even automatically. Yet, we still get too many mails. Even if we have pre-identified all the important senders and ignore all mails where we are in CC or BCC, our inbox quickly gets stuffed. I took a step back to review the mails and one category has begun to stand out for me more and more. I call it the “aggregator.” What is this? It’s a mail that summarizes the “best of” for a particular channel.

Recap of the recap

  • aggregation links, myndset digital strategyFor Twitter, you get an email with what was “popular in your network on Twitter this week”
  • On Medium, there are the top stories of the week, recommended by Medium staff
  • You have newsletters that recap the best posts of the week (cf eMarketer, eConsultancy…)
  • Other services abound, depending on your area of interest, to curate and highlight the best articles, such as Quibb …
  • The aggregation doesn’t stop in your email inbox. On your mobile device, you have readers/e-magazines that aggregate your news with more or less precision, including Flipboad, Zite (RIP soon), Reverb (my latest favorite), Smartnews
  • There is the RSS Feed (I recommend Feedly)
  • and the list goes on…

Death by aggregation

The point is, if you don’t watch out, you will have as many aggregators in your email inbox as individual messages. Each aggregator is hoping that it will swallow you up. You can end up consuming news almost for the sake of consuming news. Other than the occasional retweet or repost, there would be absolutely no actionable follow-up to the onslaught of information. Before you know it, you have not dented your inbox because you have been taken off course by one of these aggregators.

Unsubscribe

unroll.me, the myndset digital strategy

As we succumb to the deluge of emails and information, it’s easy to get lost. One of the most underappreciated actions you can take is to review your subscriptions with the intent to curtail the inflow to that which is truly important to you. Who is in charge of the newsletter you are reading? Do you ‘subscribe’ to their point of view? Are they effective in bringing to you what you need? To what extent is the content they are providing you resonate with who you are and why you get excited about life? TIP: There’s a super service call Unroll.me which can help unsubscribe you en masse from plenty of unnecessary email newsletters.  [I wrote up this post about this Unrollme service here.]

The brand opportunity in curation?

babolat play, myndset branding and digital strategy

Brands you love could be a great source for identifying relevant content around a shared passion. The point here is to find some stronger purpose to the content you are consuming. For example, I’m a big tennis enthusiast. I recently became turned on to Babolat (with its connected racquet, the Pure Drive and the Babolat Play community). I would be a potential candidate for interesting, curated tennis-related news from Babolat, about what’s going on in the tennis world, behind the scenes insights, new tips & tricks, excellent tennis destinations, etc… As an example, Babolat could use its Twitter feed to distribute the best articles about tennis. Alternatively, rather than having to create their own magazine, Babolat could provide its own “page” on Flipboard. Some distributors have moved to segment-appropriate editorial magazines (e.g. Gilt, 3Suisses, Mr Porter). Too often, however, the commercial temptation takes over and branded magazines end up as product catalogues.

What if your favorite brand were able to provide you with links to the best articles on a shared passion? I believe there is an opportunity for brands to start thinking more deeply about the pain points of its customers and, with authenticity, inject into our daily stream relevant, entertaining and/or useful content. If I had a genuine connection with and appreciation of a brand, that kind of curated service would speak volumes.

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