As soon as a wake up in the morning I unlock my iPhone to find four Facebook notifications, seven emails from LivingSocial, two LinkedIn updates, 10 Foursquare notifications, and three Twitter mentions. This doesn't even include regular text messages.

The amount of information delivered to us from social media is growing rapidly, and it's becoming difficult to distinguish what's a Facebook comment from an old friend and what's a meaningless advertisement on LinkedIn.

With the ever-expanding presence of social media, smart consumers are finding ways to filter out information that's worthless to them, and creating tools to organize the information that matters. These filters make it more important for businesses to assert their brands in a way that consumers won't tune them out.

Content curation is one way thought leaders are emerging as a critical filter. Curation is the act of individuals with a passion for a content area to find, contextualize, and organize information. Curators provide a consistent update regarding what's interesting, happening, and cool in their focus.

When brands find a way to act as content curators for their consumers, adding meaning or value to their daily lives, they're truly engaging brand loyalty. For example, “Eat This Not That” shares exercise and eating habit tips on its Facebook page daily, engaging thousands of consumers.

It's important for brands to recognize the "to-do" list for their audience. For example, clothing brand Free People found that the music festival Coachella was an important event for their customers, so they made a how-to video on DIY body paint for the trendy festival decoration. This shows how closely Free People was listening to its customers. A key aspect of content curation is listening to the web and pulling out breaking news, trends, wisdom, and inspiration related to your audience.

Pinterest, the fastest growing web service, creates tools to organize information, which can work well for brands also. Whole Foods Market's Pinterest profile has over 11,000 followers. It frequently re-pins other users' pins, reflecting the interests of its followers and embracing the social-sharing aspect of Pinterest. A less obvious brand on Pinterest is General Electric, which features inspirational pins, "badass machines" and other boards that bring GE to life.

Some important questions to ask yourself when utilizing social media are:

  • Is this content worthy of a share?
  • Will this content add value to my consumer's life?
  • Is this content unique from the other million posts out there?