I've read a lot of articles and blog posts about content curation. I have to say that I've been outspoken about not being a fan. Mostly, my reaction is related to the ridiculous notion that a company can become a thought leader through curation alone. Eric Wittlake wrote recently about that with his post, Three Reasons Content Curation is Overated, so I'll let you read his views. I tend to agree with him.
This being said, I started thinking about curation and I realized that for how outspoken I am, I'm a huge curator. Yep, it's true. Nearly every time I Tweet, I'm doing so to share someone else's content. Twitter is the content curation machine of this century. And we're all doing it.
But let's not mistake this activity for thought leadership. Curation is sharing. Curation is your personal or brand's recommendation for the source and content of others. Sharing is good. And I'll concede that I choose to follow others not only for their original content but for the content they share.
Sometimes my head spins when I publish a post to my blog and there are ReTweets before I can even flip from my editing screen to my blog to make sure it published properly. I wonder that those people are so willing to trust that I'm not going to publish something they might be afraid would embarrass them for recommending it. :) Who knows? The pressure could get to me and I could flip out. It has been known to happen to others who appear far more grounded than I am.
But I digress. I appreciate all who share my content, but I think I'd rather have them read and engage with it than just Tweet from a feed. Sometimes my Twitter stream is dry. This is because I'm too busy to go read other people's posts. I never Tweet unless I've read a post and think it would be valuable to my audience. I'm sure some people find that actually reading stuff and being present when Tweeting is a drawback because they have automated Tweets to cover every time period of every day so their visibility stays high. I think that's gaming the system and missing the point.
I believe you need to be present when you participate in social media. Sorry, but I do. That's where the "social" part comes in.
Now let's move back to some of my other thoughts about curation.
Curation can be integrated sharing. For example, when I quote statistics or opinions from analyst reports in a blog post, I'm curating that information. But I'm wrapping it with my own thoughts and ideas to perhaps apply a different take or perspective. I'm adding something I hope is valuable to the original source information.
I'd like to think of that as Inspired Curation.
Curation can also be hyperlinks embedded in a blog post. I'm inviting people to check out something related to what I'm talking about - as I did with the link to Eric's post above.
I call that Directed Curation.
What I don't think adds a whole lot to the act of curation is just repeating what's there with no added commentary. For example; just tweeting the title and link of something without any added phrase that helps me understand why you chose to share a link to a blog post, video, article, etc.
For example: 10 Ways to Improve Your Blog [link] by @joeblow
Compared to: 10 Ways to Improve Your Blog [link] by @joeblow - #3 is a Must Do!
In the first version, I could be interested, but will think nothing more about you. With the second, the recommendation by you to look at #3 tells me something about you. Makes you more interesting, as well as motivates me to go look because I'm now thinking that this list has something I may not have seen before in all the other gazillion list posts about improving my blog.
Curation with commentary changes the game a bit. It provdies more value to both the curator and the audience.
I still think curation has its limitations. But since we're all doing it, perhaps we should give a bit more thought about the value of our curation. What kind of curation are you doing?