In 2010, branded content was one the largest trends among retailers and brands. In 2011, branded content shifted to branded entertainment. Now, in 2012, we’ll look toward content cultivation and aggregation.

By creatively using Pinterest and Tumblr, brands are becoming enthralled with consumer curation, primarily because these types of curated sites create non-linear paths to purchases.

First, retailers post visually appealing images and ideas that are accessible to the online user/consumer. Then, consumers post those images to curated sites. From there, retailers can build brand awareness by directly linking to product pages and encouraging purchase conversions.

“We’re demonstrating the power of peer-to-peer shopping search,” says Buyosphere’s Tara Hunt. “Algorithms are a long way off from picking up nuances that a person can. And personal taste is full of nuance.”

The future of ecommerce, search and social marketing is now tied to personality-influenced consumer curation. Here are 10 product discovery and sharing sites worth paying attention to.

1. Mulu

Launched in December 2011, Mulu is a social platform for sharing the things you love and making the world a better place at the same time. Mulu allows users to make product recommendations, ask for suggestions and earn money for themselves or a social cause they want to support.

Mulu CEO and founder Amaryllis Fox says, “Zooey Deschanel and HelloGiggles are using their Mulu to support 826 LA, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.”

Stipple leverages cloud services to power interactive commerce and content inside of web images. When people mouse-over a “Stippled” image, pins display useful information about the people, places, products and prices shown. The company’s patent pending technology syncs these commerce and content tags to images within its network.

“Brands lose tens of millions of dollars in revenue each month simply by not tagging their products in web photos,” says Rey Flemings, founder and CEO of Stipple. “Editorial images generate billions of pageviews, and if your product is in a photo, but people can’t find out what the product is, then your brand loses marketing value and revenue.”

Founded by digital pioneer and author, Tara Hunt, Buyosphere is the Quora for fashion, interiors and retail.

Want to find “the best iPad cases for under $100 bucks?” Instead of searching through thousands of irrelevant images, Buyosphere allows you to ask the question to its community, and then your peers make recommendations (with direct product links). Even better, Buyosphere was built with brands in mind — the companies are encouraged to actively participate on the platform.

Launched in December 2011, Stylmee is the first iPad app that allows users in the fashion and interior design communities to create virtual 3D boutiques. Users are able to “design” their boutiques with custom flooring, fixtures, furnishing, accessories and apparel from their favorite retailers and brands. For every action, users earn points for their activities and can cash them in for retailer rewards.

The app combines online shopping and product sharing (via Twitter and Facebook integration) with social game mechanics in order to increase brand engagement. For brands and retailers, the application offers the ability to directly showcase the latest collections and obtain feedback and exposure through game mechanics. Products are viewed and judged worthy of placement within members’ personal boutiques.

Considered Pinterest’s primary competitor, Svpply allows site members to keep track of the things they want to buy, and to browse a personal feed of products from across the web, curated and filtered by the people and stores they find interesting. Users with blogs can embed their Svpply activity via widgets and retailers can integrate an “add to Svpply” button on their ecommerce sites.

6. Lyst

Lyst is a social shopping and product bookmarking site specifically targeted to fashion. The site allows users to follow their favorite designers, boutiques, bloggers and stylists for updates in their personally made style feeds. “Lysting items is a form of self-expression,” says Chris Morton, CEO of Lyst in an interview with Business Of Fashion. “The act of publishing their lysts also enables users to build their reputation within the online fashion world.”

7. Nuji

A hybrid of Lyst and Svpply, Nuji allows users to save items they like from any online store using the platform’s web bookmarklet tool. Users can clip apparel from retail websites they like and purchase the items later. Plus, they can follow interesting users and earn rewards and discounts from retailers by tagging their favorite items.

For aspiring interior designers and overall design enthusiasts, Olioboard is an easy way to communicate complex artistic concepts visually. Use it as a brainstorming tool or simply to visually organizing thoughts.

Users are able to share, embed and email their creations to their blogs, as well as shop retailer products within the site. Olioboard plans to launch iPad and mobile apps mid-2012.

Olioboard was created by web design company Keele UX Inc. “Our main goal for Olioboard is to provide a design and decor-focused creative tool that essentially allows members to get inspired and ‘try it, before they buy it,'” says founder Sheilah MacSporran.

GetVega is list-creating service based entirely on visual content. GetVega users access the platform for product comparisons and reviews, create lists of products, and write reviews. Users can also use it as a social (or private) bookmarking site. Currently, the site is generating an impressive amount of content, from visual cookbooks to theme bars in Paris to the best guitarists. Users even create the proverbial “bucket list.”

Once a public list is created, other users can contribute (see: the quest for the best chocolate) and rate the quality of a list and its contents. With a much broader audience than just fashion, GetVega offers retailers the chance to create context between their brands and their customers’ lifestyles.

Styloko is the new kid on the block when it comes to product sharing and discovery. The site is hybrid of Pinterest, The Cools and what Google Boutiques wanted to be. Styloko is worth paying attention to because it caters to fashion, art and industry insiders – those with advanced knowledge of not so mainstream products.

The site allows users to add items they find to boards, upload images via the site’s mobile app, and set up specific sale alerts for the brands they follow.



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