By Vincent Clarke, USB Memory Direct
The most valuable commodity in the world is information. People thrive on learning new things about their specific interests and the general world around them. This is one of the most fundamental truths of business.
- But what happens when you run out of new things to create for your audience?
- How do you keep their attention?
Most website professionals tend to regard curated content as the easy way out. They believe that "content curation" is simply the republishing of information from third-party sources, when in fact that's actually just aggregation.
As a result, content curation has become a sort of taboo in today's "original and fresh content marketing" world, one that's whittled it down to retweeting content posts and links on social media sites.
When I think of content curation, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark come to mind. Remember that last scene from the movie, where "top men" store the Ark in a secret government facility among tons of other lost treasures?
Just think of the "Ark" as a very valuable piece of content that's lost among the billions of other articles, posts and "fresh" content.
Content curation for the modern Web business places value back on the content itself, rather than in the brands or the companies that provide it. It shifts the focus of the commodity from creativity to discovery.
Let's discuss how you can find these small, unknown gems of content on the Internet, and then how to properly go about repurposing it for your brand. Don't make the mistake of putting off extremely valuable pieces of information in favor of complete originality.
Remember, Pablo Picasso, Steve Jobs, T.S. Eliot, Igor Stravinsky, Steven King, Lionel Trilling and William Faulkner all said some variation of the same basic message:
"Good artists copy; great artists steal."
People love collecting things and especially media. Museums, libraries and federal databases are just a few of the ways we as a society gather, compile and organize information for the public to access and benefit from.
Then there was the internet. Unthinkable amounts of data were suddenly at our fingertips. And as we all well know, when it comes to searching for things online, Google's authority stand unquestioned.
But how well do you use Google? Are you aware of the various input shortcodes you can use better find the relevant content you're researching?
This infographic from HackCollege was original created to better help students on their research papers and the like. But I've found these same tips to be incredibly useful for my own business and content curation:
Aggregated content sites like Reddit, Inbound, Hacker News, Google News, Alltop and Popurls are all great ways to find valuable articles and blog posts related to internet marketing, business and current events. These sites also have accurate internal search engines as well. So you can search for advanced topics and find those diamonds in the rough from two-three years, or even a decade back. This is an ongoing activity. Stay informed and be on the lookout for something truly extraordinary.
This is known active research. You're on the prowl for something specific and won't stop until you find it. But there's a flipside to that. Passive research can be described as selective listening, or otherwise having information come to you.
Gather a list of resources that you trust, like Website Magazine. Then use RSS aggregators like Feedly or Flipboard to track their own content production and constantly have your own personal news stream of highly relevant, niche-specific information. Also use Twitter and Facebook to track the content that your resources curate themselves.
The only thing you have to worry about in both of these scenarios is separating the good from the great. Here's what you're looking for basically:
- Subject matter relevant to your industry
- Online tools and resources
- Popular topics
- Current events
- Entertainment media (if applicable)
Don't expect the "next big thing" to fall in your lap. Sometimes, you'll see some small discovery or progress in a certain industry and never even realize why it's important, or what it means for the future. It's not about finding something special, it's about finding something where you clearly see its potential.
Great content curation involves explaining to your audience why the content you found is relevant.
- What's your opinion?
- What are you going to contribute?
Answering these questions alongside aggregated content personalizes the information and makes it more compelling to your audience.
Perhaps the simplest method to curate the content you've gathered is to write a summary. Tell them in your own words what's going down, and add your own little tidbits of information here and there as well. You're mixing tons of great stuff to make something new, fun and totally relevant. Quoting a sentence or a short excerpt also falls under summarization, if you provide your own refection of the material before or after it.
You could also tell a story by putting together multiple pieces of aggregated content to make a bigger point or show a process. You are curating content through a cohesive narrative that links separate (but valuable) ideas that together make something truly great. This type of repurposing is the highest valued target but it's also the most difficult. One bad character or scene and you'll lose your audience just like in a movie or book.
Finally, you can use it as an example. Perhaps you could make an analogy, or compare and contrast different viewpoints. Basically you're drawing parallels between unrelated topics to draw the audience's attention through self-realization. You're understanding concepts through known, popular and culturally important material. It's such a common practice that most of you probably didn't know you were already curating content.
Which brings me to my final point: Content curation has evolved itself into making its way into every part of our content production process. In fact, most people nowadays discredit material that makes assertions without introducing previously published content in some way.
Don't be afraid to look to the past to build something better. Evolution is about improving what came before. Content curation has evolved.
About the Author
Vincent Clarke is a senior copywriter and marketing analyst for USB Memory Direct. When he's not surfing or reading, he's constantly trying to find new ways to help people through his writing and research.