Shel Holtz on the growing relevance of content curation
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When is a company not a company? When it's a media publisher.
So was I until in a recent interview, Shel Holtz explained the growing importance of content curation to companies looking to build awareness.
The media landscape is rapidly changing
We all see the major upheavals happening in the press right now. Print journalism is giving way to digital. Readership is dwindling. Newsrooms are shrinking. This affects coverage across the board, including business stories. It was never easy getting a journalist to pick up on a press release, but the environment is getting even tougher.
People are now reading from a more diverse set of sources. What people are reading online often differs from the top stories breaking on the nightly TV broadcast. The scope of news consumed is broader than it ever has been.
Traditional press folk are no longer the arbiters of influence. Enter the role of the content curator.
Gimme a filter
Experts who are willing to spend some time pulling out the nuggets of information now have an increasingly useful role to play.
Shel cites the example of NPR's Andy Carvin, who built up a large Twitter readership during the Arab Spring revolutions. Rather than push out his own (or NPR’s) content, Andy threaded together a narrative from key players and thought leaders. Sure, you could have followed these people individually, but that would have meant having to find them and then pick through multiple streams of tweets. Andy did all the legwork and published what he found on Storify, and went on to become the go-to source for online information on the Arab Spring.
Companies can learn a lot from this example. Content curation is a great tool to build awareness and thought leadership. Whether it be in the PR department, a technical sales specialist or market intelligence folk, there may already be people within the company following a given topic of key strategic interest. The next step is to package this up and publish it. Before you know it, you are providing a valuable service and have become an expert in the field.
A little shameless self-promotion coming up: IBM is one of the examples Shel mentions. The smart folk who run the Smarter Planet campaign have a Tumblr where they collect interesting tid-bits from across the web.
Other curation tools beyond Storify and Tumblr include the rotary visualizations of Pearltrees to the newsy feel of Paper.li to straight listings in Delicious. Curata, Loud3r and Daylife have enterprise offerings with enterprise price tags.
Beyond external communication, curation has a special role to play in connecting employees inside the firewall. News about the company, competitors, the industry and the marketplace can help to build a well-informed workforce.
And whilst many curation efforts may be brand-led initiatives, there's no reason why individuals can't make use of these tools to cover their own particular specializations. Google+ is particularly useful in this regard, as you can create circles covering different topics.
Turning visitors away
One of the reservations that came to mind as I put this piece together is around measurement and rewards for these initiatives, particularly brand-led external curation. On the web marketing side, I'm hearing more these days around building and measuring engagement, rather than just counting page views or visits.
Curation can be tricky in this regard as you are often driving people to off-domain locations that can't be tracked. Effectively, when you look at your web stats you may well see a lot of single-page visits. It's tough to weave a tale of engagement around these kinds of numbers.
One way around this is to be clear on the objective and measure against it. For instance, looking at return visit metrics can highlight the number of people who value the curation enough to keep coming back for more (regardless of the duration of each visit). Indeed one of the most popular sites on the web deals with a similar scenario: as Dave Winer has pointed out, Google is at one level little more than an algorithmic curator that spends most of its time sending visitors away.
Check out the webinar with Shel Holtz to hear about curation from the man himself.