ConnectedN's Content Curation for Social Media Engagement

Enabling Busy Subject Matter Experts to Deliver Valuable Content to Clients and Prospects

March 24, 2011

ConnectedN, a content curation platform that enables professionals to easily engage in social media conversations, stands out for the workflow capabilities and simple user interface that enable busy experts to participate in the social conversation by building on third-party content. ConnectedN’s singular focus is on getting busy subject matter experts directly participating in social media.

NETTING IT OUT

ConnectedN’s singular focus on getting busy subject matter experts directly participating in social media reminds us of the revolution that took place in print publishing when editors first sat in front of electronic workstations. Editorial control was the prize that motivated editors to sit at a keyboard, perceived then as a stigma. Having a voice in far reaching conversations, without becoming a slave to the web, is today’s prize.

ConnectedN stands out for the workflow capabilities and simple user interface that enable busy experts to participate in the social conversation by building on third-party content. If you seek a content curation platform for marketing uses involving management of social media participation, nurturing leads, demonstrating thought leadership or improving SEO, ConnectedN should be on the short list of suppliers you consider.

OVERVIEW OF CONNECTEDN

Company Background

With the goal of creating a platform that would enable large enterprises to develop engaging social media presences on multiple social sites, Brad Milne and Sandy Gibson launched ConnectedN in the spring of 2008. Recognizing that good content drives engagement, the founders envisioned a workflow that would allow experts in the company to find and comment on others’ blog posts or articles quickly and efficiently and then, after requisite approvals, publish to a branded topic site and to social media platforms. They expected this approach would enable enterprises to create enough relevant content to stay top of mind with target audiences without sacrificing a lot of time on the part of company experts whose involvement is crucial for developing engaging content.

A Toronto Mayoral Campaign (see social.georgesmitherman.ca) implemented the first commercial use of ConnectedN. It is used today in law, accounting and consulting firms, hospitals and sales organizations, all of which are targets for future sales. The company currently has 11 customers, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, St. Michaels’ Hospital, and The Marketing Store.

ConnectedN has begun to work through consulting firms that resell their solution in healthcare (Lyceum Health) and pharmaceuticals (Headcan). The company also has reseller arrangements with two large advertising interactive agencies, The Marketing Store and Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG.

Product Offering

ConnectedN is a Software-as-a-Service curation platform focused on making social media engagement feasible for busy professionals, particularly those in enterprises that adhere to strict guidelines for pre-publishing approval. Pricing is $350 per month per user. This includes a brand-compliant microsite that sits on the customer’s web site for publishing curated content, the aggregation and routing software that finds relevant social media mentions and routes them via email to appropriate experts and reviewers, as well as newsletter distribution and social media publishing capabilities.

ConnectedN uses keywords to aggregate content drawn from RSS feeds and Twitter accounts specified in advance. Personalized “listening feeds” of aggregated content are sent to each expert (hereafter called the curator when describing ConnectedN functionality) by email at the times of day they designate; first thing in the morning and at lunch is typical. See Illustration 1 for an example of the email the curator receives. The curator can select items for comment and publishing on the microsite and has the option of publishing to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. At the same time, curators can designate items for inclusion in a company newsletter distributed to those who subscribe on the curated site. In addition to the designated items, the newsletter includes those items that have been viewed the most during the past week.

Email Received by a Curator

Email Received by a Curator
(Click on image to enlarge.)

© 2011 ConnectedN

Illustration 1. This screen shot shows an email received by a curator at a ConnectedN site, www.connectedn.com/getconnected. When the curator approves an item for publication, a screen comes up with a box preceded by, “This item has been added. Would you like to add a comment?” Customers receive emails through their corporate email accounts.

When customers are just getting started with social media, ConnectedN also offers some additional training and, when necessary, will help users build their social media following.

This workflow can be modified to fit an organization’s preferences. For instance, some customers send the curator’s listening feed to marketing for culling and drafting of possible Tweets before sending it on to the curator for selection and commentary. Others automatically route all comments through the legal or compliance department before publication.

The branded topic sites serve as evergreen collections of content selected by the experts displayed in reverse chronological order. Experts’ pictures and short bios are prominently featured by each post. Information consumers can sort items by expert and search by keyword. ConnectedN doesn’t attempt to create comprehensive collections on a subject, commonly the goal with other evergreen collections. Instead, it focuses on each expert’s selection of relevant sources, aided by basic keyword search. This human-centered approach to content selection will make sense to many professional services firms because it fits their focus on selling the expertise of individuals. In addition, many professionals are wary of sources unfamiliar to them. Firms could, of course, do their own due diligence to include a more comprehensive list of sources.

ConnectedN tries to get its customers up and running within two weeks, but often runs into scheduling snags with busy professionals. A meeting with the professionals to identify sources and keywords for their personal listening streams starts the process. This process is iterative since most professionals don’t organize their thinking in terms of sources and keywords. ConnectedN trains the professionals in a phone call by talking them through receipt of email and the options they have to comment and publish. When customers are just getting started with social media, ConnectedN also offers some additional training and, when necessary, will help users build their social media following. It considers these services short-term necessities that are ancillary to its core business.

THE CONTENT CURATION EVALUATION FRAMEWORK

Combining content curation with workflow management and a user interface based on email addresses two factors that limit many companies’ engagement with social media: the time required of experts and the volume of content needed to maintain a consistent presence. Third-party content provides the impetus for expert commentary, draws search engine traffic, and enables regular publishing to social media platforms and newsletter subscribers.

The Content Curation Evaluation Framework, updated in February 2011 1 and referenced in this product review, focuses on marketing uses beyond social media management and, specifically, the needs of the marketer (and, by extension, the expert who is the focus of ConnectedN’s work) and corporate IT department, which might be called upon to provide support. The framework describes requirements in nine categories: focus, guidance, aggregation and filtering, review and selection, comments and approval, presentation, active distribution, membership and interaction, and gaining insight.

As described in the evaluation framework, there are at least a dozen ways that marketers use content curation. Some of the uses require only a subset of the capabilities specified in the evaluation framework. That is, a product that comes up short in the full evaluation can still be a top choice for a particular use...

 

Contact Info:
ConnectedN
Brad Milne
Co-founder
Email: brad@connectedn.com
Phone: 1.416.464.6426
www.connectedn.com


***ENDNOTE***
1) " Content Curation Evaluation Framework, Version 2: What to Consider When Evaluating Content Curation Platforms ," by Susan McKittrick, Analyst and Senior Consultant, Patricia Seybold Group, February 24, 2011.
***ENDNOTE***

 


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