Social Media demands new types of editors

Faced with the torrent of real-time information which is being discharged by the never-ending social media firehose, there is a strong need for a way to help people make sense of it all. This is a role which, to an extent, Google performs through its aggregated news services.

There are a number of tools which enable you to organise breaking news stories and how they develop, such as Storify. It is a relatively simple-looking tool which allows a user to pull in content from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and other social media services to create a kind of chronological story stream. So you can create a slide of the first appearance of the story; a series of tweets that followed it; a video that came next; photos and so on. The subsequent narrative can be embedded in the pages of other sites.

I’ve seen examples and it is very effective. It could be used for product launches and for corporate communications in a variety of ways. It could also be used by companies who wish to position themselves as selective ‘curators’ of content, or as aggregators of quality information for their particular audiences.

Even as editors are being by-passed by social media, there is still clearly a real need for editors. It is impossible sometimes to be first to break the news. However companies – and in fact anyone for that matter – can use these tools to aggregate content to put it in context for their readers.

It is a service for which there is likely to be a strong demand. Companies could in effect create ‘virtual harbours’ where their audiences can return, knowing that developments on a particular issue will be put coherently and calmly, enabling them to catch up and understand them fully.