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Why Curation Matters More Than Ever

By Jake Sorofman | January 02, 2014 | 4 Comments

In the run up to this holiday season, my thoughts gravitated to the increasingly important role of curation in virtually all forms of audience engagement. Why? Because, spread as we are between so many cacophonous pleas, we all face an abundance of choice that far exceeds our capacity to discern what is—and what isn’t—worthy of our attention.

In this always-on age of information overload, our synapses yearn for some relief.

For many, this relief comes from the discriminating curators who act as intelligent filters across a veritable Sargasso Sea of information, a fire hose of flotsam and jetsam. We count on these curators to help turn the patternless din into a more sensible, more tractable patchwork.

Of course, this has direct implications for the content marketer who is often caught between the philosophical debate of creation or curation.

Here, the former relate to the words of Picasso who advised that it’s only the masters who matter. Those who create—not the disciples—are most interesting in life. (These, it’s worth mentioning, are convenient ideals coming from this master of all masters).

Writer Henry Miller thought otherwise, suggesting that you should “Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music—the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”

It reminds me of a panel I moderated last year where Extreme Networks CMO Vala Afshar advised content marketers to “be interested, not interesting.” Wise words, then and now (although, for the record, I believe that the answer here is closer to and than or: creation and curation. I’m sure Vala agrees, as he’s a exceptional practioner of both).

Of course, curation isn’t just for the content marketer. The principles of curation are behind every effective personalization strategy and retail experience. Here, the goal is to carefully filter offers and experiences through the lens of the customer, helping them to find relevance in an increasingly overwhelming universe of choice.

What does this all mean for the digital marketer? Becoming a discriminating curator will help you distinguish your voice, values and storylines from competing pleas for audience attention. It will help your brand become a beacon in this ever-amplified age of plenty.

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4 Comments

  • I believe that there are two stages to commercial content curation. The first, is all about the filtering process that you mention. However, if you really desire to influence others then you’ll need to include some value-added insights. Granted, stage two requires more work on the part of the curator, but it’s worth the extra effort if it makes you remarkable.

  • Yes, absolutely agree, David. Annotation of third-party content is how you introduce your POV and add value by advancing the dialogue.

  • Great blog. One area of curation that seems to get glossed over at times is ownership/authorization of content that is being curated. I see 2014 as a year where all companies focus on their brand, and they seek original or authorized content, whether created by them, their agencies, or their ambassadors, and the best brand will be able to curate the best content in context of their consumer.

  • AJ Newell says:

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Google seems to say content curation “adds no value to the user” unless one adds significant commentary. I totally disagree. And digg.com, technorati, huffington post and many others have made gazillions from this very tactic. I can right now list a bucketfull of reasons that simple content curation is win win for the user, the curator and the originator of the content. For example, a curator can give new life to “old” articles, like from “way back” in 2008… When I email a link or a YouTube video to a friend, a simple intro sentence or two why they should check it out is more natural than lengthy commentary… We are swimming in a literal Pacific Ocean of content people, it’s time to loosen the reigns a little