We are witnessing the passing of the brief era in which all "companies are publishers" (content creators) and are entering a new age in which the act of separating the wheat from the chaff of our over-mediated lives will be the cornerstone to positioning corporate brands for success in their marketplace.
Content curation (CC), the act of distilling the flood of online information on a given topic into an editorialized narrative that enables one to comprehend the big picture, is all the buzz since the publication of Curation Nation by Steven Rosenbaum. Successful curation discovers, organizes and shares subject-specific information that is intended to provide added value to key audiences (stakeholders), well beyond content creation.
Or, in Mr. Rosenbaum's words, "In a world of bandwidth and content abundance, we're overwhelmed with data, tweets, blogs, check-ins and media. It used to be we surfed the web. Now the waves of the web are just too big. Curation is the new magic that makes the web work. Bringing the web back to human scale with human filters you trust and love. A powerful mix of passion and context turns noise back into signal."
It is proposed that when properly managed by human, rather than algorhythmic, editors, CC can separate a brand from the pack by positioning it as the go-to thought leader in its field. Tactically speaking, curation refines prospect targeting, builds influential audiences and generates higher-level search engine citations packed with key words and meta-tags.
Content Curation proposes moving beyond today's typical brand dialog that, in its one-sidedness, daily threatens to alienate its audience rather than enhancing engagement. Moreover, how many companies have the resources to consistently produce useful, insightful and balanced content? To maintain an engaging conversation requires a small army of skilled personnel who both devise the overarching content strategy and then jump into the trenches to implement it daily, or at minimum weekly.
If offering engaging and relevant information is the key to marketing success in the digital age, brands must master both the guiding principles of content creation and of content curation. But remember, the customer, not the brand, is in control so put yourself in their shoes as you prepare to become a content curator. Let's review a few steps in the process, with some help from a recent white paper from Curata.
1. Select your topic
The crucial first step is to decide what you want to be known for, in which subject you hope to become the thought leader. Make certain it is highly relevant to internal and external stakeholders.
2. Identify your sources
The best curators know their field inside out. They understand the nuances of the key issues and the positions of leading voices in the field. Make a list of the gurus, established leaders, and rising voices. Set up automated feeds (RSS, Twitter, Friends, LinkedIn, key words) to follow them.
3. Organize the data flood
Your job as a CC is to make sense of the many sources of insight in your field, which can range up into the hundreds, so organization is everything. The daily nuts and bolts include: aggregate all RSS feeds in one place (Google Reader, etc.) with clearly labeled topical folders. Email subscriptions need their own set of folders. Social streams must be filtered by type of connection, industry, etc.
4. Create your stream
Now that you've tamed the flood of incoming info, there are three ways to add value to your selections: commentary, conversation and original content (yes, you still need to write). Without adding your commentary, you are not curating. Commentary creates context and makes sense out of chaos, while insight is crucial to promoting engagement.
5. Publish and promote
Many publishing tools are available, but take your readers' perspective when making choices. These range from the corporate website and/or blogs (Tumblr, etc.), to emailings, posting on a variety of social sites, Tweets, to automated platforms like StrategyEye, Idio, Curata, ConnectedN, and UKn Platform.
Whatever industry you serve, the very act of curating will rapidly deepen your knowledge and insight, elevating your player value, while enhancing that of your employer's brand. Long live the new King, Curation I.