Content Curation No Substitute For Content Creation

Printing Blocks“Publishing is a lot harder than it looks” -- so says Josh Sternberg over on Digiday. It’s true, so apparently brands are turning toward content curation in a bid to feed their ever-growing need for information to push to Facebook and Twitter streams.

The problem, as always, is that you get what you put in.

Unique content takes more out of the business because it gives more back to the business. (Well, it should.) If I wanted to be a content purist, I’d say that content curation is the equivalent of me turning up to a bake-off with a store-bought cake and saying “Look! I baked a cake.” Nobody’s impressed (or fooled) by me pretending I’m a cake expert having never broken an egg.

Even looking at it in more sympathetic terms for the time-poor Digital Marketer, in the age of customization most people are quite capable of curating their own information -- just the way they like it. There’s very little a brand can do to add value to the original content once curated. If I want to find healthy recipes online I can do that for myself, I don’t need to turn to a toaster brand -- as one of the article’s interviewees suggest-- for their perspective on healthy recipes (no doubt all with a strong toast bias). 

Content curation has a number of practical limitations: 

  • Becoming tarnished with the “me too” factor: What started as an attempt at customer dialogue can very quickly seem like noise for noise’s sake. Even worse, incorrect accreditation of sources can just downright annoy content originators.
  • Driving traffic off-site: What’s the point of your content strategy? As the article points out, most brands are using their curated content on third-party sites like Tumblr -- most likely linking out to the original. This defeats the purpose of bringing people toward a brand to have an interaction and disconnects them from a possible commercial outcome.
  • Limiting content planning to what’s already available: If content usage is based on curation, then content planning will be limited to what’s already available. (I’d also suggest that if your content isn’t unique then how are you going to achieve cut-through anyway?) 

Curating content is no substitute for a proper content plan 

Publishing and editorial-type functions can feel uncomfortable to a brand previously unused to creating media but it’s now an essential part of interactive marketing -- in the same way building and maintaining a website can be a challenge but it’s just too important not to tackle.

Content’s value is diminished when brands forget to use content across their whole interactive brand ecosystem. Yes, it can take a long time to create a blog post, but if the post is part of your natural search, email marketing, and social media strategies then all of a sudden that content is working harder and cost-per-use gives greater ROI.

Content curation can be part of your content strategy but your own content creation should come first.

[Image credit: Bob Doran]


I would agree wholeheartedly

I would agree wholeheartedly in the views expressed here if content curation and content creation were locked in an either/or battle to the death.

But they're not. Any brand treating curation as a potential quick fix, or a way to avoid creating their own original and compelling content is probably making a lot of other serious mistakes in it communications and marketing.

There's little to be gained from jumping on a bandwagon just for the sake of it. However, there's even less to be gained by stubbornly refusing to follow your customers' lead occasionally.

Content curation, like so many other so-called social memes are not the panacea many of my colleagues in the world of PR & comms would have their clients believe. But my take on it is a simple one - customers aren't always right but they're always worth listening to. If they are drawn to social content curation platforms it could be a mistake to ignore them.

Would you expand?

Thanks Sean - would you expand on what you mean by customers being drawn to social content curation platforms? And what it is they can expect from arriving there?

Well, of course!

Curation isn't shouldn't be the center of any content marketing strategy. A roundabout of reblogs and retweets goes a bit stale without fresh content in the mix.

In a sense, though, isn't even the most original content based in curation? It is said there are no new ideas, just the remix of old ones. Not addressing where the inspiration for your content comes from or calling upon outside sources or examples can actually work to discredit your authority on the topic. Curation is the act of giving context to a collection of artifacts. Original content is just the best curation.

Sharing, after all, is caring. You share someone else's stuff, others are likely to share yours as well. Doing anything else makes you the "hey, hey, hey, look at meeee, and disregard the guy behind the curtain" guy.

And no one wants to be that guy.

A short cut to content creation

You are SO right. I've found that most CEOs don't even have the time to curate. It's a task, if done, that can easily be outsourced to staff. Creating content is time consuming, if done at a keyboard. It's super-easy and quick for an expert, if it's done via audio interview. The steps are: 1. Create a good list of topics so you have a menu to choose from each and every time you sit down to record. 2. Hire an independent interviewer to ask you about the topics and record the interviews. 3. Your expert must be able to turn the interview into an audio podcast episode. 4. IMPORTANT: get the audio transcribed and post it along with the podcast (for SEO purposes) OR EVEN BETTER: 5. Have the transcript turned into an actual article or blog post, rewritten in the expert's style and writing "voice."
Record just 10 minutes a week and you'll have about 1,500 words. In a year, that's 78,000 words of original content in the voice and style of your CEO or YOU!
Point is...this is a super easy way for the CEO to output the content...and a better use of staff, outsourced labor, etc.