Content Curation: A Personal View
Content Curation is a simple idea; you review a lot of articles, cheery pick the best ones, and share them with your readers. Your readers should be interested in this, because:
- They will read remarkable articles that they would otherwise not have read, because they are not searching as exhaustively as you.
- They will save time as they will not have to read all the articles that you have scanned through.
- They will not be stressed out by information overload, because they won’t even see the irrelevant, low-quality or redundant articles that you have filtered away.
My personal view is that content curation is such a promising idea — and when I explain the concept to friends they also immediately like it — as who wouldn’t like to get high-quality articles related your interests?
However, for some reason content curation is rarely used by the average Internet user and most are unfamiliar with the concept. I find this difficult to understand as the idea itself is simple, easy to explain and the value is so obvious that the lack of popularity must be due to poor execution, rather than a poor idea.
In this essay, I provide my views on what it would take get the execution right, so that content curation would get the popularity among online readers that it rightfully deserves.
The most important element of content curation is that the readers trust you (i.e. the content curator). If you can be bribed to embed advertisement links in the curated content, the readers will not trust you, but more importantly, if they sense that you are not a knowledgeable person in the domain you are curating, they will not trust that you can make the right decisions on which content should be included, and which should not. As a consequence, your curated content will be unattractive to your readers.
Tip: Only curate content where you are a knowledgeable person and always place the interests of the reader ahead of your own. Information spreads so fast on the Internet that even one deceitful action could ruin your reputation.
Your curated content should be within a specific domain, so readers can easily tell whether the content is relevant to them, or not. Each issue/post of curated content should be on a specific topic within that domain. For instance, the domain could be entrepreneurship and an issue could focus on guerilla marketing or product development.
If you find two articles with similar content — and of equal quality — should you then include both articles? No, you should choose the best one, even if it will be tough to make the choice. The readers expect you to make that choice, so they don’t have to waste time to read redundant articles.
Tip: Don’t make your curated content seem overwhelming by including too many articles. The general rule of thumb with 7 elements, plus or minus 2, seems like the right size. And avoid articles with redundant content; for instance, don’t include two time management articles that are basically sharing the same tips.
An important reason for choosing to read curated content is to avoid information overload, so if you start to publish new curated content daily, your posts will start to stay unread in the reader’s inboxes — and they might start to get crazy ideas about filtering your emails out or cancelling their subscriptions. Another benefit of reducing the frequency of posting is that is forces you to be even more ruthless when picking articles, so you are forced to pick the best of the best.
Tip: The posting frequency depends on the content that you are curating. If you are curating news, you can probably get away with a daily frequency (still The Economist, for example, is only published once per week), but a more steady subject like Travel Destinations should have a less frequent schedule.
So far the focus has been on choosing remarkable articles, but the presentation of the curated content is also important. The readers should be able to scan through the curated content without being forced to read each and every paragraph to quickly identify the content that they want to know more about.
Tip: Use the headlines of the curated articles as headlines within your post and make sure that the headlines stand out from the rest of the content. In addition, don’t bury the links within paragraphs of text, so the readers are forced to read paragraph after paragraph to find something of interests.
A way to generate add-on value to content curation — that will be difficult for your competitors to copy — is to summarize the content of each article in a paragraph or two.
Tip: Don’t just provide a list of links without any comments. Try to distill the value of each article into a few key points, so that reading the summary by itself would provide value to the reader.
If you have to advertise, don’t use generic advertisements; so your business-related curated content gets plastered with irrelevant distractions. Rather use affiliate links for products that you can truly recommend and that would be valuable for the reader. For instance, if you have curated content about a business topic, why not refer your readers to a few of your favorite books on that subject?
Tip: Only recommend products that are so good that you would recommend them even if you didn’t get a commission for recommending them.
As a closing remark, I believe that content curation is an underdeveloped idea that is just about to take off. So here is an opportunity for anyone — with a passionate interest and a desire to spread it — to make a difference by giving more people a chance to read remarkable online articles and thereby boosting our collective intelligence.