Intel uses iQ, its dedicated branded social curation platform, to curate content from influencers and employees on how people are using technology in inspiring ways, and to showcase technology’s impact on media, life and the planet.
The iQ algorithm sources content from vetted online sources based on social popularity. Then, it crowdsources the most popular content amongst Intel employees based on what they are sharing publicly, and publishes links and excerpts from them, along with original commissioned content from sources like Intel Free Press and Intel’s Creators Project.
Around 160 employees currently participate in the iQ program.
Brands have invested heavily in communities, and need to create shareable content on a regular basis to stay top of mind.
Luke Kintigh, Managing Editor of iQ, noted:
“As brands build up these large communities on social networks, it’s forcing them to think more like a publisher. All of a sudden they have this community that needs to be fed this valuable content.”
iQ is Intel’s answer to the challenge of creating a consistent stream of compelling content. iQ was inspired in part from thought leader Tom Foremski’s notion that “Every Company is a Media Company.”
Foremski believes that we are witnessing a major business transformation and that companies “must learn how to publish, listen, and converse in a very fragmented media world”:
“Every company is a media company because every company publishes to its customers, its staff, its neighbors, its communities. It doesn’t matter if a company makes diapers or steel girders, it must also be a media company and know how to use all the media technologies at its disposal.
“While this has always been true to some extent, it is even more important today, because our media technologies have become so much more powerful.”
Millennials and Gen Y no longer access content on print, TV and radio. iQ was designed as a touch-optimized web app to be present where the youth (and increasingly, all demographics) are – on smart phones, laptops and tablets.
Bryan Rhoads, iQ Editor-in-Chief, said:
“[The goal is to] connect with a younger audience and tell them the bigger story of who we are as a brand. Many of them don’t know, so we need to tell them the story of Intel that is beyond PCs and beyond processors.”
Intel is adept at communicating the power of technology through storytelling, and Intel iQ is another instance where the company focuses on what the product enables and not the product itself.
“All content includes technology but the focus is not. This is an end-user publication and would not appeal to deep technologists. I would assume a great many of the topics being covered involve products powered by Intel, but on the surface, that appears to be besides the point.”
Some thinkers believe the true value of the iQ platform will come from having an army of consumers who share brand-aligned content and helped increase the favorability of the Intel brand and its products.
As blogger and social media professional Michael Kieran wrote:
“At a time when we’re all drowning in content, there’s real value in having customers organically share content that’s aligned with your company’s marketing messages.
“I applaud the experimentation that Intel’s doing here, and will be interested to see how effectively this site can generate sharing that builds favorable awareness, interest, and consideration of their products.”
Bloggers point out that social publishing is becoming fairly common, especially among tech brands.
Wall Street Journals’ Don Clark pointed out:
“Intel is far from alone in trying to break new ground in communications. Qualcomm, for example, has a site called Spark that is staffed by professional journalists and also employs the latest Web and social networking techniques to talk about new trends in technology. Cisco Systems’ online news site, called The Network, lists a large stable of professional tech writers it leans on for submissions.”
And blogger Josh Sternberg wrote:
“IBM has A Smarter Planet, which curates content related to the brand’s attributes. AmEx has long created content for small businesses. The question hovering over these moves is whether brands can pull it off. After all, it’s not like there’s a dearth of tech blogs and aggregators out there.”
Bloggers point out that product and media companies have begun to overlap, and question the impact that branded content platforms will have on the overall media industry.
Bobbie Johnson, a tech blogger at GigaOm, cautioned that the content space is becoming too cluttered, and competitive:
“Social curation exists in a complex space for organization and discovery that overlaps with everything from to-do lists to tagging, from bookmarking to recommendations… and, of course, big sharing platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. To say it’s a competitive area is an understatement.
“Creation is very difficult. Curation is hard. Consumption, on the other hand, is relatively easy.”
Thought leader Shel Israel cautioned there will be “unintended consequences” that may affect the media companies, the “middlemen,” unkindly:
“I write a lot about how social media has blurred the lines between companies and customers, citizen and professional journalists and iQ seems to me to have just made the latter lines blurrier between product and media companies.”
In 2012, we have seen social curation take off on the web with Pinterest reaching 40 million users and new curation platforms like Pearltrees, Storify, ShortForm, The Fancy and Cowbird gaining visibility.
Intel too is building its own customized social curation software based on its proprietary monitoring technology called “Social Cockpit” and hopes to involve 5000+ employees in the curation process.
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