While the practice is neither new nor revolutionary, the concept of “content curation” is achieving “latest-and-greatest” status in the world of organizational communication. As business becomes more global, face-to-face and print communication are transitioning to online communication. The resulting proliferation of information and documentation, whether on the World Wide Web or corporate intranets, is overwhelming – not only for search engines, but also for readers. Even the most complex and elegant search algorithms cannot replace the human creativity, capability and expertise needed to navigate intelligently, and thus a new role for communicators is emerging – that of content curator.
What is content curation? It is the art of finding, filtering, organizing and displaying the most useful, relevant digital information on a specific topic, category or industry. A museum analogy is often used to describe the practice. In a museum, artifacts are not haphazardly displayed: Items are researched; history and relevance are documented; and, viewed together, the collection provides perspective and tells a larger story. The same holds true in curating content.
“Even the most complex and elegant search algorithms cannot replace the human creativity, capability and expertise needed to navigate intelligently …”
What information lends itself to curation? Perhaps it’s a topic or an issue specific to your organization, e.g., government regulation, advances in technology or competitive reconnaissance. News stories affecting your business, information surrounding events (conferences or trade shows), or updates on a profession related to your company, (e.g. medicine, architecture or engineering) may also be enhanced with effective presentation.
The content options when curating for employees are even greater. From training materials to company position statements and policies, employee blogs or information relating to company projects and initiatives, the possibility of greatly enhancing understanding is available to the expert curator.
Distinct from other forms of external communication, curation isn’t about pitching products and services. As new media expert Shel Holtz explains, the content must be “buzzworthy” – entertaining, educational and inspirational. But, providing useful information is a marketing strategy that’s working well for many organizations. For those who wish to be partners to their customers, it’s an ideal way to provide support.
And, the rewards are there for those who take the content-curation plunge. To name a few:
- A well-curated collection will give you credibility not just for knowing your company, its products and services, but also for knowing your space, your competitors, your detractors and your customers.
- Curated collections are a valuable source of new content that can be produced at a fraction of the cost of original material. Further, you avoid the cost of reproducing materials – all you need are the links.
- By presenting the information most relevant to the topic in a thoughtful manner and by providing context that even a newcomer can understand, content curation can help you establish thought leadership.
New media expert Clay Shirky has summed it up well in saying that the problem isn’t information overload; it’s filter failure. Communicators can greatly benefit their organizations by providing that filter.
Please note: If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I often provide links to useful information I’ve uncovered related to organizational communication. Always willing to practice what I preach, I’m happy to announce that future blog posts will include curated collections of that information.