Posted on : April 10th 2023
Author : Ajit Nair, Manager, Straive
‘Content is King’ is a phrase that digital marketers, creators, and anybody doing business on the internet have adopted as their mantra since Bill Gates wrote an article with the same title on the Microsoft website in 1996.
Time has proven him right, as, over the decades, brands and businesses started relying on content – in various forms – to reach users and convert them into leads and customers and reach a wider range of target audiences. Nearly half of business’ marketing budgets nowadays are allocated to content marketing. And not just in marketing; if you look around, you will realize that content collection and aggregation and resource, news, and media curation, are used across various domains such as knowledge management, education, journalism, and entertainment.
The democratization of content also happened in the internet era, where anyone with an internet connection could create their own content, and more people started consuming readily available knowledge and information in various formats. However, this has also led to information overload and content saturation, where you got an ocean of content you could get lost in if you don’t know where to look. Discovering new content is not an issue nowadays; however, collecting and compiling relevant content and filtering and organizing it to make it usable is the challenge.
With so much information to comb through, someone needs to filter out all the unnecessary data to deliver the relevant information the end user seeks in an organized way. This is where content curation comes in.
Content curation is the process of finding and gathering relevant, trustworthy information on a particular topic, filtering out the unwanted fluff, structuring it in a way that is efficient to impart knowledge to the end user, and sharing it with the target audiences for ready use. It adds value to the overall knowledge process.
Curating content is not a new concept. From school and university textbooks to newspapers to even the search engines such as Google, we come across examples of curated content daily.
Content curation is beneficial across multiple domains, such as learning and development, knowledge management, business communication, marketing, and creating and enhancing brand awareness. Focused, result-oriented curated content is nowadays as vital as creating high-quality content to achieve expected results in these domains. Some of the benefits include the following:
Well-curated content enables users to access exactly what they are looking for without having to navigate through, get tangled up in loads of data, and access the specific information they need.
Curation finds, organizes, and structures content for all intended users to use that content without having to spend their time and energy again individually repeating the same. This helps save hours of valuable time and human and financial resources for all the stakeholders involved.
There is enough content to educate you on any possible topic you can think of. However, it is necessary to tailor them to suit your specific requirement so that you don’t waste your valuable time – which is not in abundance, unfortunately – and resources to find them.
It goes without saying that if you don’t have to spend hours researching and finding relevant data, it immensely improves productivity and performance, whether you are a student, an educationist, or a business. Readily actionable curated content facilitates faster implementation, which could be a determining factor of progress and success.
By piecing together otherwise standalone, scattered information from various sources, curation gives content a streamlined and comprehensible data structure. Curation also adds context to content, making it easy for the learner to grasp valuable information and use it effectively and quickly, enhancing the learning process. Curated content can be an effective component of a wholesome learning experience; you start by providing a few curated resources to the learner, develop the supporting learning experience and material around it, and assist the learners in their progress. This will help facilitate a continuous learning process.
Content curation is widely used as a marketing tool and, when used effectively, can enhance your marketing efforts immensely. It can be a good conversation starter and networking tool to connect with your target audience on social media and other digital platforms; tailored information for a specific audience helps develop an emotional connection with them. Well-curated content also builds trust in your brand among the target audience as you will showcase your in-depth knowledge about the industry you represent and share it with the audience open-handedly. This will boost your brand’s credibility and help cement your brand’s thought leadership. Content curation also increases the cost-effectiveness of your marketing campaigns as it costs a fraction of what is required in developing marketing content.
When used in online publications, curated content can help in SEO and reduce your digital marketing cost, as the search engines such as Google and Bing constantly search to rank relevant in-depth content on specific topics.
The constitution of well-curated content can be different depending on its use cases – content curated for education can be different in structure and presentation from that curated for marketing. However, there are some fundamental objectives curated content needs to fulfill to make it well-curated content.
First and foremost, it is obvious that the quality of the curated content should be immaculate. To ensure this, the curator or the team of curators must have in-depth knowledge of the topic they are curating. With all the good things that the digital era has brought us came misinformation and misleading content. Hence, the sources from where you gather information to curate must be reputed and trustworthy – this is crucial in sustaining the audience’s trust in you. In-depth research in finding detailed, relevant information from various sources also goes a long way in delivering content that is high quality.
Collecting information and presenting it as a package is not difficult. However, if the content lacks the human perspective and the personal touch the curator provides, it will fail to connect with the audience. If the audience can relate to the personalized viewpoint of the curator, only then will they develop the emotional bond that we discussed earlier.
Curators should provide specific context and elaborate their understanding of the curated topic. This allows users to understand and work on that thought process to develop new knowledge, ideas, and information. You are not adding any value to the content if you gather information and present it to an audience without applying your thought process, perception, and narrative to it. When presented thoughtfully with the curator's insights, seemingly unrelated pieces of information from different sources could reveal an idea that was not obvious before. Such insights can add great value to everybody involved.
Human beings, as emotional beings, are more receptive to information and tend to connect easily with it when presented as a story. The familiarity aspect of storytelling can make information simpler to explore and comprehend because that is how humankind has shared values and information since the advent of language. That makes storytelling an integral element of content curation because it is a perfect tool to make someone understand a concept that could otherwise present itself as complicated or abstract. By weaving content together and creating a narrative with an insightful context, curators can effectively utilize storytelling in content curation.
Storytelling need not be limited to written words. Presenting content in various visual formats can enhance the effectiveness of knowledge sharing through visual storytelling. Depending on your content, any visual representation of data using infographics, videos, images, charts, presentations, etc., can add much value to the curated content and leverage the efficacy of visual storytelling.
This is not just for well-curated content; you must respect and mandatorily adhere to the copyright and IP status of any content you collect and get all necessary permissions to use someone else’s content unless it is public domain. Plagiarizing content and presenting it as your own is illegal and unethical. Properly curated content uses knowledge from other sources with their permission and adds the curator’s insights to make it unique and useful for the end user. Curators also should have a good understanding of what is fair use and what is not. Even though fair use allows the use of copyrighted material under some specific scenarios, it is defined based on various factors on an item-by-item basis and not as a blanket rule to copy content. Last but not least, it is absolutely important that you acknowledge and cite the content sources and link back to them wherever possible.
In today’s digital world, where the amount of content created is growing exponentially daily, it becomes nearly impossible to find all the relevant, contextual information we need and figure out what is reliable and what is not. Content curation is exceptionally beneficial in such circumstances to bring valuable information that resonates with the knowledge seekers enabling them to fulfill their knowledge appetite without having to scour through tons of data. In the process, the curators elevate themselves as thought leaders who can help in better knowledge sharing and management. Content curation goes hand-in-hand with quality content creation as an adaptable business strategy in different business areas, such as marketing, brand building, L&D, or innovation; the possibilities are unlimited.
From our experience supporting various businesses, EdTech providers, and publishers over the years in curating their content, the most important takeaway Straive has is that there is nothing more purposeful and fulfilling than adding value to others, regardless of how substantial that value is.
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