CHAOS. That is the first word I think of when trying to sift through the mind-boggling amount of content uploaded to the web every second. As Rohit Bhargava wryly noted in a 2009 blog, “to say there is a flood of content being created online now seems like a serious understatement.”¹
And that was three years ago.
In 2010 we collectively downloaded, uploaded and otherwise wrestled with 1.2 zettabytes of data. A year later volume was on an exponential growth curve toward 1.8 zettabytes (A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes; that’s a 1 with 21 zeros trailing behind it….yikes).²
In the face of this veritable tsunami of content stands the content curator. Much like a museum curator, a content creator’s job is to sift through, classify, assess and explain information. In this way, content creators act as a stabilizing force to calm the information chaos by providing much-needed context for the content that they discover and organize.
In a recent post for Fast Company, expert blogger Steven Rosenbaum goes as far as to liken content curators to superheroes. There is a seed of truth in this analogy.
Nerd moment: The word “curation” originates from the Latin verb CURARE, meaning “to aid, help assist.”
In a very real sense, content curators really do “help” content by repackaging it into relevant bite (or byte)- sized portions easily consumed by an Internet populace hungry for information and insight.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, here’s a quick guide to the what, how and why of content curation, helping you understand what it is, how it should be practiced, and why it is beneficial to your business.
WHAT IS IT?
Simply defined, content curation is the repackaging of existing content with an added spin, insight, analysis or commentary. Think back to a paper you wrote in high school or college. If you used multiple books, news articles etc. as sources, you were engaging in content curation. As such, virtually every piece of content you write in which you source a fact, figure or insight is a form of curated content, even if you provide your own commentary or spin.
Taken from his Content Curator’s Manifesto blog, this is how Rohit Bhargava defines content curation:
To satisfy the people's hunger for great content on any topic imaginable, there will need to be a new category of individual working online. Someone whose job it is not to create more content, but to make sense of all the content that others are creating…. A Content Curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online….creating an entirely new dialogue based on valued content rather than just brand created marketing messages.
Most business bloggers are content curators. This is one reason why business blogging is so effective. A business blogger does the heavy lifting by sifting through, classifying, analyzing, and giving context to the raft of industry-specific information coming out daily, providing a very valuable service to a brand's target audience.
HOW IT IS USED
As SEO and overall Inbound Marketing guru Rand Fishkin pointed out in a post on the topic, there are five types of content curation:
1. Aggregation, which consists of curating the most relevant content about a topic into one single location, such as a blog or website;
2. Distillation, which purpose is to distill the overall noise about a topic to its most important and relevant concept(s);
3. Elevation, where curators draft a more general trend or insight from a mass of daily musings;
4. Mashups, or to merge different content about a topic creating a new original point of view;
5. Chronology, or the presentation of a timeline of curated information to show the evolution of a particular topic.
Over time, your blog, social media and other web-based content will likely resemble any one of these types of content curation.
Internet best practices of content curation tend to focus on transparency and attribution. For example, you should always cite original content sources, providing links back to the source whenever possible. Also, if you aren’t adding any context, opinion, or analysis, but rather simply republishing huge swaths of someone else’s content, then you are a plagiarist.
Content attribution applies to pictures, images and video as well. Make sure to respect any copyrights, with the understanding that only images published under a creative commons license are open for use (in most cases). If you are unsure, get in the habit of reaching out to the original author and asking for permission.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT
Content curation provides three general benefits to your business:
- Amplifies Your Social Reach- Content curation allows you to draw from an unlimited library of useful information as a basis for creating new, value-added content. In this way you are distilling the knowledge of the world through one voice that is easily sharable on social media. By doing so you provide a great value to your readers and to your business, as you watch your social reach grow exponentially.
- Establishes You as a Thought Leader- By curating the best industry sources and using your social media profiles as a medium to share your discoveries, you will establish yourself as a thought leader.³ As a thought leader, you’ll attract a loyal base of followers that turn to you for information and insight.
- Builds SEO- When you curate content from top influencers, you are inviting comment and eventually backlinks to your site. As more people link to your curated content, search engine crawlers like Google’s spiders will take notice, in turn boosting your site’s page rankings. If you share, comment, and credit only the best sources, then people will tend to look at you as an authoritative source of information, and the creators you cite will start desiring to be cited by you.³
As the world becomes even more data-driven, information overload is becoming the norm. Use content curation to help your target audience cut through the noise, and they will likely reward you with loyalty, following, leads, and sales.
Are you using content creation to amplify your reach? If so, how?
¹ Influential Marketing Blog, “Manifesto For The Content Curator: The Next Big Social Media Job Of The Future?”
² Fast Company, “Content Creators are the New Superheroes of the Web”
³ SEO Moz, “Content Curation Guide for SEO - What, How, Why”