Chances are, you, too, are a content curator. You bring meaning to the content you create and consume, sharing highlights and insights with your community of readers, followers and customers, and providing them with context. Given the proliferation on online content, curation has become a truly valuable way to combat the 'Paradox of Choice' for customers.
Pawan Deshpande, CEO of Curata, focuses intensely on content curation. He will be participating with me in a conversation about Content Curation: Making Meaning Out of Chaos at Info360 which takes place at the Javits Center in NYC on June 14, 2012.
In anticipation of the event, I caught up with Pawan to ask him a few questions about himself and what being a content curator is all about.
C.B.: Pawan, please tell me about yourself.
P.D.: I was introduced to content marketing from the technology side. I have always been interested in content and have worked with it in some shape or form throughout my career ranging from building applications to block illegal sharing of content (IMLogic), mining intelligence for social networks from content (Microsoft), building transliteration technology empowering bloggers to create content (Google), to making content more consumable through natural language processing (MIT). Content marketing is always interesting because it brings together people from marketing, media, and technology. Most recently, at Curata, I am working with content curation software to empower marketers and provide them with relevant content at their fingertips.
C.B.: How did you get immersed in content curation?
P.D.: When I started Curata, the idea was to empower users to pull together content on any topic they were interested in and share with a larger audience. I realized two things along the way. First, marketers were hungry for fresh, relevant content. The second is that there is a need to selectively “curate” the content, not simply pull it together. We quickly evolved our product to serve these needs and become a tool focused on content curation at launched it as Curata. The rest is history.
C.B.: What is content curation?
P.D.: Content curation is helping people make sense of all the information online regarding a certain topic. In simplest terms, content curation is finding the content an audience needs, organizing and contextualizing it so it’s helpful and sharing it so it's accessible.
The concept is borrowed from traditional curation such as in an art gallery or museum, where a curator is finding paintings about certain themes from around the world, organizing them into galleries, annotating them, building a narrative, and lastly sharing them with the general public. A curator adds value simply by bringing meaning to the content created by others.
C.B.: How do individuals get involved with content curation?
P.D.: Anyone can curate content – and many people do so without even knowing. Finding a blog post and sharing it through email, or social media are simple acts of curation. In a recent survey my company conducted with over 400 marketers, we were surprised to find that every respondent who identified themselves as being non-curators had, in fact, curated content by responding that they had found and shared an article, blog post or other content with a prospect in the past six months. Lots of people are involved with finding, organizing and sharing content online – getting involved with “content curation” is often then a matter of being educated on technologies and strategies to improve what most are already doing.
C.B.: How is it relevant to businesses?
P.D.: Brands today are expected to be publishers. They are expected to produce content for social media channels, for blogs, for podcasts, for videos, for press releases, for white papers, for ebooks and list goes on. Unfortunately, most brands are not set up to be publishers and lack the time and resources to produce all this content.
Content curation allows brands and marketers to provide their prospects with relevant, helpful information on a regular basis both through various channels without having to create all the content themselves. Through content curation, companies can turn their online properties into a one-stop-resource for prospects to find important information on a specific topic. Providing a mix of competitors’ content and content from industry luminaries while producing original content at the same time can help a brand position itself as a thought leader in the space, improve its SEO standing, boost lead generation efforts, and nurture prospects along the sales cycle.
C.B.: How does content curation make it easier for people to find meaningful information online?
P.D.: Content curation helps people navigate the information overload on the web. By visiting a curated site on a certain topic, one can find the relevant information that he or she is looking for in one place, without having to sift through the clutter. If a company is an expert in a certain subject area, it can curate content on that subject, providing expertise in judging what is valid and meaningful and thus providing prospects with a way to find content more easily.
C.B.: Which are some examples of content curation in action?
P.D.: Adobe’s CMO.com is a great example of curation at work. In a single site, they publish original exclusive content as well as curate insights from around the web from marketing publications such as Ad Age, MediaPost and MarketingProfs. They provide this as public resource to establish themselves as the go-to resource for CMOs, their target audience.
Another great example is Concrete Green Building run by U.S. Concrete. Green construction and Concrete are both popular topics, but U.S. Concrete has carved out a great nice at the intersection of these two topics. Similar to CMO.com, they have become the go-to resource on this topic by creating original content and curating content from green publications and construction publications alike.
C.B.: What are best practices for curating content?
P.D.: Content curation can be broken up into three parts: (1) Finding. (2) Organizing and (3) Sharing content.
- For finding, the key is to find the best and most relevant content on your topic. Here you should choose quality over quantity and be extremely selective yet comprehensive.
- On the second part, it’s best to think like a librarian when organizing content. How can you index, categorize, and recommend content from a vast repository of available content in a meaningful way?
- On the third part, you should share content to everywhere your prospects want to consume the content, whether it is social media, feeds, email or on a website.
Here’s a link to a great resource we’ve produced to answer just this question: 5 Simple Steps to becoming a Content Curation Rockstar.
C.B: Any words of advice for businesses ready to get immersed in content curation?
P.D.: Picking a topic is one of the most important parts of successful curation. Make sure you find a topic that you can really own and become a leader in. It should have three fundamental elements:
(1) It should not comprehensively covered by existing online publications.
(2) It should align with the interests of your target audience.
(3) There should be regularly produced third-party content on that topic that you can curate.
Once you have found a topic that meets all three of these criteria, you have a great topic for creating and curating content.