Are curators taking over from influencers as the next thing in social media and branding?
In January, we wrote about the ongoing in 2023. In that article, we stated,
“In the last three years, the number of Google searches for “influencer marketing” has increased by 1500%. This shows that influencer marketing continues to have opportunities and will continue to play an essential role in marketing as brands balance the need to survive the economic downturn rising interest rates and build and retain trust and improve collaboration.”
Six months later, we are witnessing the rise of curators. Brands will continue to use Influencers in their marketing and campaigns; however, as the role of Curators becomes more recognised, brands will have another option to market and promote their products, particularly to aspirational consumers.
are those consumers who strive for more in life. They enjoy pushing themselves to learn new skills and tend to be career-oriented and opportunistic, and they are looking for brands that can help them become more successful. Aspirational consumers makeup about 39% of all consumers and hence are a crucial audience for brands to consider in their marketing strategy.
For aspirational consumers, it isn’t about having the money to buy things but having the knowledge and taste to know what to buy. The product is more than the product. It is a vehicle for self-expression, identity, and social status. In this context, knowledge, judgement, and taste are valuable , and this is where the role of curators becomes essential.
Curators play a significant role because they act as tastemakers, trendsetters, and experts who help consumers navigate the overwhelming abundance of choices in the marketplace, particularly in areas such as fashion, lifestyle, art, and home decor.
These curators often have a distinct aesthetic or expertise and use their platforms to showcase products that align with their vision or cater to a specific lifestyle. By curating products and presenting them in an appealing way, curators provide consumers with a more focused and personalised shopping experience.
They also create a narrative around the products they showcase, highlighting their unique features, quality, and value. This storytelling aspect enhances the desirability of the products and fuels the aspiration to own them.
While there can be some overlap between curators and influencers, they are quite distinct.
Historically, a curator was a person who was responsible for selecting, organising, and presenting collections of items, often in the context of museums, art galleries, libraries, or online platforms. They are experts in their respective fields and possess knowledge and understanding of art, history, culture, or other specialised areas. They research, acquire, preserve, and interpret objects, artworks, or information to create meaningful exhibitions or collections. Their goal is to provide an engaging and informative experience for visitors or users, helping them appreciate and understand the curated materials.
This concept of curator has seeped into the aspirational economy. They have become influential figures in shaping consumer aspirations and the act of buying things by leveraging their expertise, storytelling skills, and platforms to create desire, offer personalised experiences, and guide consumers in their purchasing decisions.
An influencer is a person who has gained a significant following and influence on social media platforms or other digital channels. They typically focus on creating and sharing content related to specific topics such as fashion, beauty, travel, fitness, technology, or lifestyle.
Influencers often have expertise or a strong interest in their niche and use their personal brand to engage and connect with their audience. They aim to inspire, inform, or entertain their followers through content and may collaborate with brands for sponsored posts or endorsements. Influencers typically have a direct relationship with their audience and can have a considerable impact on consumer behaviour and trends.
In summary, an influencer primarily operates within social media, creating and sharing content to engage and influence their audience, often related to lifestyle, fashion, or specific interest areas. Whereas a curator is an expert who selects and organises items, information or products in a way that establishes them as tastemakers, trendsetters, and experts who help consumers navigate the overwhelming abundance of choices in the marketplace.
While both curators and influencers have their roles, the importance of each depends on factors such as the nature of the content, the target audience, and the platform being used. However, in recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the value of curators, particularly in fields where expertise and trust are crucial. Curators provide a curated experience, filtering out noise and presenting high-quality, relevant content. This can be especially important in domains where accuracy, reliability, and in-depth knowledge are paramount.
While influencers have gained significant attention and have been highly influential in shaping consumer trends and promoting products or services on social media, there has also been some scepticism and a growing demand for authenticity and transparency in influencer marketing.
As a result, of the scepticism and ethical concerns around practices used by some Influencers, some consumers have started to seek out trusted curators who provide unbiased recommendations and a deeper understanding of the subject matter. This has made the role of curators on social media more important.
Unlike influencers, curators often choose to remain anonyomous to boost their credibility. They are also not after the sheer reach and volume of followers: in their niches. It is the quality of followers that count. By influencing quality followers, curators shape culture by becoming a source of inspiration for broader trends .
Ultimately, the importance of curators and influencers is not mutually exclusive. They serve different functions and cater to different needs. While influencers often excel at promoting products and engaging with a broader audience, curators offer specialised knowledge, expert guidance, and a curated experience. The relative importance of curators and influencers will likely continue to evolve as audience preferences and the dynamics of online content consumption change over time.
When a brand is considering becoming a curator, it is essential to consider the following four points .
Decide what curating will achieve for the brand. Curation can retain an audience and attract new ones that have yet to consider a brand. It can attract a collaborator or start a brand partnership. It can increase product value and protect pricing. Hence it is essential to be clear about what becoming a curator will achieve that is different to what the brand already achieves.
It is important to ground curation in one of the following:
When a brand has decided what the curation will be based on, it is essential to clearly define a filter that distinguishes the things and behaviours the brand focuses on. Decide and specify what makes the brand’s curation distinct and what is the unique aspect of its experience.
Identify the sources of the material (products, videos, memes, references, images) for the brand’s curation. Define the sub-themes or sub-categories that enforce a more comprehensive narrative. Organise them according to the brand’s filter. Remember that every item must tell the same story as the entire narrative.
Curators will become more critical for brands, particularly in marketing to aspirational consumers. However, becoming a successful curator takes time and effort. Consistency, quality, and engagement are vital to establishing a brand’s credibility and attracting an audience that values the brand’s curated content.