Start-up Curation Station helps companies incorporate user-generated content in their online marketing.
From left, Joseph Rueter, Jennifer Iwanicki and Tim Brunelle are partners in Curation Station, a software company that works with large companies to reposition the flow of information about their brand to their websites, Facebook pages, etc.
The Internet can be a daunting challenge for advertising firms. There are hundreds of blogs filled with praises and rants, widgets on websites bustling with tweets and mobile videos that can cloud a consumer’s perceptions about a company.
How does a business take back control of its own marketing message?
Minneapolis-based Curation Station aims to address this problem. The five-employee firm sells software that allows marketers to pick relevant links, photos and videos and post the information in seconds to a website. The company says it’s helping marketers embrace the concept of “curation,” in which companies act like museum curators and select content created by their customers, not the marketers themselves.
“Until the Internet was invented, [marketers] created the content. You had 100 percent of the control,” said Tim Brunelle, CEO of Hello Viking, the marketing firm that spun off Curation Station. “Now, [the Internet has] empowered consumers out there and they are making their own content because they want to. … If you look at the Fortune 500 companies, it’s just now that chief marketing officers are beginning to embrace the notion of consumer-generated content.”
Curation Station says its software reduces the burden on advertising firms that often have to go through several programs and spend hours to update relevant content on corporate websites. Curation Station also says it can increase the time visitors spend on a site by 30 seconds or more and increase return visits by 15 percent or more.
Companies from Marshalls to 3M have leveraged the firm’s software. For example, luxury handbag business Alexis Hudson Inc. uses Curation Station to link back to blogs and articles that mention its bags. Since the business began using Curation Station about eight months ago, retail sales on the website have increased 45 percent, said Emily Ironi, owner and president.
“It just constantly gives our site interest,” Ironi said. “There is a reason for someone to check in daily.”
The idea came about when Brunelle and Jennifer Iwanicki were in New York for a Hello Viking consulting project and came up with the idea that would lead to Curation Station. They brainstormed software that would make it easier for brands to leverage online content created by others, and make it simple to post on the brands’ websites.
When they returned from the trip, Brunelle, Iwanicki and the rest of their team soon got to work drawing their vision on a white board, one that Iwanicki still has today.
The vision was spun out of Hello Viking into Curation Station, which is a separate company and has received an undisclosed six-figure angel investment. Curation Station declined to give sales figures.
Since its launch in January 2010, it is up to 87 active Curation Station accounts.
For now, Curation Station claims it is the only company that offers advertising firms the ability to curate information across multiple platforms including video and photos and to pull content from a brand’s Facebook fan page.
Joseph Rueter, a co-founder of Curation Station, recalled when the company first shopped the idea to trusted people in the industry.
Rueter said a common reaction was, “Whoa, you power the kind of things we dreamt about, but never had the time or money to build.”
Wendy Lee • 612-673-1712