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What Is The Place Of Content Curation In Marketing? Part 1

By June 16, 2014February 1st, 2018Writing & Content Marketing
What Is The Place Of Content Curation In Marketing? Part 1

I had the privilege of being on Ryan Hanley’s Content Warfare TV to debate founder and CEO of Triberr, Dino Dogan, on the subject of content curation as a followup to my article “In Which I Discuss Why Content Curation For Marketing Sucks“. I took the position that content curation is often misused and may be an unnecessary component of marketing.

I want to share some additional thoughts and provide answers to questions I was asked during the show.

This is part one of a two part series. In the second part, I’ll answer the questions: “Doesn’t content curation help people get to know my business better?” And “If content curation isn’t the answer, what is?” Plus I’ll discuss whether content curation is a good alternative to the social media graveyard.

Don’t forget to subscribe to be notified when part two comes out.

Dear Business Owner, Content Curation Means Revenue Growth. But Not For You.

Have you ever created original content for your business? Have you ever searched for content created by someone else to publish to your social media accounts?

Which is harder? Which takes more time? Which is more profitable for a marketing consultant?

When you run the numbers it’s easy to see why content curation is adored and pushed so aggressively by marketing companies. As a line item, it’s far more profitable with less labor. Behind closed doors many marketers tell me that trying to pitch original content creation is risky because even if you get the gig, you have to work a lot harder for the revenue. Content curation takes less time and can provide steady, easy revenue.

Business owners won’t hear this “inside baseball” within the marketing community either by design or because your provider is inside the industry echo chamber. Either way, your consultant will never tell you that content curation is a better deal for them than for you.

For extra credit, check out our article called “7 Things Your Web Developer Will Never Tell You.”

The claim cannot be the rationale

A colleague recently sent out a public email with the title “What is Content Curation? Do You Care?” In it they argued that it is incumbent upon businesses to do “the heavy lifting” and curate content as part of their customer service.

Content curation is the process of gathering up truly useful information clients and future clients want or need and weeding out the junk. Content curation helps people get directly to information that is actually enjoyable or relevant to them — without all the hassle.

When I asked for an explanation, I was told that recipients would find curated content enjoyable or useful.

I’ve had the same conversation dozens of times with dozens of people. The abridged version is that the reason that content curation is good is because content curation is good. An alternative version is that content curation helps businesses make friends on social channels by helping them make friends.

This circular logic is predicated entirely on group think. All rookie social media “experts” think that content curation is good because other social media “experts” think that content curation is good.

I’ve asked at least a dozen people to illustrate the results of content curation for me and not one has been able to produce data to show that without content curation, their customers would be doing worse. Based on my research I have found that content curation does not effectively move the needle for my clients.

Your grandfather is a jerk and should shut his fat, stupid mouth

Here’s another ridiculous notion to drive content curation; don’t only talk about your business. People will not like you if you do.

Who made this rule? And why is it now followed religiously?

Have you ever had an older family member tell stories around the table about the good old days? Did those moments bring you joy? If you follow conventional content curation wisdom, you should have told Grandpa to shut his big fat mouth. “You always talk about yourself, Grandpa. That’s stupid!”

Sure there are folks who only talk about themselves in a way that makes you want to choke them, but perhaps there’s a middle ground. Perhaps if you carry your marketing less like “Vera from the salon” and more like Grandpa then maybe you can cultivate relationships based on the value of your business instead of the value of third party content.

If content curation is so good, why not do it everywhere?

If content curation is so good at building relationships, why not have third party content on your letterhead or business cards or website or that 4×6 card you’re mailing out?

The answer is simple. You only have so much real estate to make a connection with a consumer. There are few cases where you’d put an article to a third party site on your business card (unless it was about you) so why are you surrendering space on social media? Before you pay your Social Media Ninja Guru Rockstar their fee, consider being as selfish with your social space as you are with your letterhead or that billboard you just rented.

“But social media is free,” you say.

Is it really? Here lies the canard that links back to my earlier discussion about fees. Part of the curtain that is drawn before content curation is that it’s free. But even if you are a DIYer, you still have to invest time that can be better spent making actual connections with your audience.

Ask yourself this question: “Is that third party content so important to my customers that I would be willing to pay to send it to them via postal mail?” I admit it’s an exaggerated question, but it’s worth thinking about before wasting your time or putting money in someone else’s pocket.

Marketers say, “My customers are happy with content curation.”

This is probably the concept that aggravates me the most.

I’ve been pretty relentless on this topic and hitting it hard at every opportunity. Eventually the concession I  get from marketers is, “My customers are happy.”

It’s not the job of marketing professionals to create happy customers. It’s their job to create profitable customers. As a parallel, I’ve had debates more than once with business owners who decide that they don’t like their logo because their spouse didn’t like it. It’s not incumbent upon a logo to be liked by the owner’s spouse. The responsibility of the logo is to strengthen the business brand.

So many new marketers lose sight of this.

Let Me Have It

Content curation, …to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.

I still love this conversation and the way the discussion has evolved from my initial article to Content Warfare TV and beyond.

Now it’s your turn. Let me have it.

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • George Baily says:

    I am looking forward to the next parts of the rant!

    My 2 cents:
    – Curation is like anything in content, a sliding scale from high effort/quality to low… it’s not often we actually see it done well. And when it is done well, often the guys doing it are not pushy enough about promoting their good work, i.e. even less chance we can hold up shining examples off the top of our head.
    – Speaking for myself, both in private interests/socialmedia and work profiles, the majority of interesting stuff that I like to read and also may re-share are from channels (both individuals and brands) who are consciously curating and sharing mostly 3rd party stuff. This is just the way stuff spreads around, so for my part I would be happy for more marketers to be emphasising high quality curation.

    OK one more point, “high quality curation” for me implies a marketer has to understand their audience pretty well. That can’t be a bad exercise for the marketer to go through, for influencing everything else they are doing…

  • David Frick says:

    Cheers to challenging the herd mentality approach! I am looking forward to the following parts to this idea.

    Content is indeed a new arena for businesses and marketers. I believe businesses/marketers should both produce AND share content that is consistent with their brand in a variety of formats. The point is to engage in meaningful conversations – even if it is a quick ‘read-and-click’ – in between purchases.

  • Mark Evans says:

    I think there’s a balance between creation and curation, as well as value doing both. For brands, one of the big challenges is delivering valuable and high-quality content on a consistent basis. Without big enough budgets, this can be difficult to do because not every brand can become a publisher. In embracing curation, brands need to think through the editorial focus, mix and relevancy of their own and curated content. That’s the hard part. The easier part is leveraging curation platforms such as Pressly, RebelMouse and Tint.

    • Delivering valuable and high-quality content on a consistent basis is not hard and does not need to be expensive. It requires discipline above all else.

  • I think the biggest notion with curation vs creation is that people see curation as (oddly enough) a philanthropic effort. “Oh, look, he’s not trying to sell us something time after time… he’s recommending resources for us… etc, etc.”.

    I share tutorials and resources I find, and I get quite a bit of great feedback (“Thanks for sharing!”), but I also get that same feedback on articles I’ve written personally… It’s easier to write one article and share five than to write five articles, in my opinion. But, your mileage may vary!

    The wishy-washy argument would be that everything is good in moderation. A little of both goes a long way, I think. To do only creation is exhausting… to do only curation means you have nothing of YOUR OWN to show for it.

  • Jeff Doubek says:

    This is a refreshingly good post, the type of content I like to share with my customers because it not only offers good information but it also reflects my business mindset. That is where I feel curation helps me because I can rely on other resources to “back me up” and help define my expertise. I’m unsure as to whether this flies in the face of what you’re saying.

    My question is: will I gain more advantage by creating my own article, even if it means parroting what you just said?