You know the guys in the museum that show people things behind the glass and then tell them why those things are significant?
When you post some funny thing on Facebook, that guy in the museum is you.
Sure, you may be sharing stuff about a dog wearing a hat instead of showing off a dinosaur skull, but you’re still a curator.
Curating content has grown increasingly important as the demand for content itself grows exponentially. But there’s something that’s even better than curating any old content… curating your own content.
This means giving your audience what they want in the way you want them to see it.
But before we get to that, let’s talk about plain old curation.
Curating is the substitute for creation
Google News is the go-to example of content curation.
You type in the topic of news you want and BAM, there are a bunch of articles about it (which is why so many publishers hate Google News).
Curating content is often hailed as a great strategy for social media, too.
Essentially, most of what anyone does on Twitter is curate content for followers. If followers like the stuff you’re showing off, they’ll follow you.
Businesses curate a lot on social media, through emails, and on their websites, because they usually don’t have time to write content themselves. So they’ll share relevant industry articles, write a few lines about what they think about the article, and send it out.
Writers, artists, and musicians can do this, too, as soon as they establish what they’re going to create content about.
Actually, I do a lot of curating in my email newsletter, too, because I want it to be kind of a newspaper for stuff about ebooks, self-publishing, and self-promoting artists.
The bottom line is, in the fast-paced world of the internet — where people shove delicious information into their mouths like that thing in Ghostbusters — you need to be putting out content every day.
Producing so much strictly relevant content every day is impossible, so people fall back on curation.
Putting your stuff in the museum
Let’s go back to the museum concept.
You’re the curator of a museum of stuff that you find interesting. That museum is a living, breathing thing.
It’s called your website.
The content you create there should be related to what you’re curating. You wouldn’t find dinosaur bones in the Van Gogh Museum, right?
Likewise, if you’re curating content via Twitter about supernatural things like witches, vampires, and altruistic investment bankers all day long, but then write a blog post about how George W. Bush stole both elections, you’re going to scare away all of the people in your virtual museum.
Think about it — if you got people interested in you through werewolf tweets, why would those people be interested in something political?
Your content should add to the discussion you’ve already started with curation.
For example, I tweet interesting articles about technology, publishing, and ebooks. So it’s no surprise when I write about the future of books and share it with my followers.
I used to accidentally let slip some political tweets.
Don’t. You’ll lose followers.
A lot of the time, Twitter is about having a one or two-dimensional personality.
And, honestly, no one who’s tweeting about politics is going to change their mind anyway.
Making your own exhibits
The future of content curation is taking all of the stuff you’ve made and making it easily accessible for people.
No one is going to root around your website looking for the content they like.
Why? Because there’s just too much content out there now.
If your site doesn’t immediately show visitors the stuff they want, people will slam the “Back” button on the browser and search for another option.
I thought about this hard when I was “Freshly Pressed” for my post about the Penguin and Random House Merger and… promptly did nothing.
Later, I took a look at my analytics and saw some people had clicked my “Fiction” tab. I decided to see what they would have seen:
“Bleh!” I exclaimed. A bunch of old, old short stories with no rhyme or reason. Is that really what I wanted to show off to the hypothetical readers?
I cursed my foolishness and went about curating my Fiction tab:
Now, readers were more likely to see the stuff I wanted them to see. Namely, the best stuff.
They’ll be happier for it and I’ll be less ashamed.
This is nothing compared to the masters of content curation, of course, but I’m just getting started. I need more stuff first.
That’s the key to any curation strategy: make sure you keep creating content, too, so when all the people who like your curation do take a look at your website, you’ve got content that deepens your curation efforts and that content is curated in a way you know that they’ll like.
1. Curating is just sharing stuff you think your audience will like, then adding your two cents to it.
2. Information overload is making curation more important than ever before and artists who are good at showing their best stuff first, then leading people to more obscure pieces, will have a lot of success.
3. Websites are essential to the curation process, as we can see from my experience. Think carefully about how someone will be viewing your site and try to redesign accordingly.
4. Show your audience what you think will intrigue them most, because that will give them more reason to trust you on stuff that may not be as accessible.
5. Create lots of different packaged experiences: short stories should lead to novels, albums should have “starter edition” EPs, artists should show flashy pieces that lead to more obscure, themed ones. It’s up to you to create the curation road, just make sure it makes sense.
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Photo Credit: e_monk