Curators act as filters between an abundance of content and the essential knowledge employees need in the workplace. A content curator is considered a resource designer (versus a course designer), who continuously updates on demand learning resources. The content itself is valuable, but it’s the curator’s distillation of the content by simplifying it down to easily digestible key points that make the sharing incredibly valuable as a learning tool. A higher level of curation occurs when the curator, aided by vast experience in the field, includes expert opinion, feedback and insights that add even higher value. The key elements that make curation work are the competence and focus of the curator and of the topic they have selected.
The ultimate goal of a curator is to bring the content needed by an audience to them without them having to spend time looking for it. This allows employees to quickly gain critical information without needing to sort through large amounts of content on their own. The challenge is contextualizing, filtering, and taming the massive amount of information employees need in ways that helps them, not overwhelms them.
A content curator continually seeks, makes sense of, and shares the best and most relevant content on a particular topic online.
Seek. Search, browse,and gather content on the topic from internal and external resources.
Sense. Select, organize, and filter the best content relevant to the topic and context.
Share. Present it in a meaningful, contextualized, performance-impacting way.
Content Curation helps employees stay ahead of the competition by quickly accessing the right information in the right format. It replaces noise with clarity.
Some of the key benefits of curation include:
- Aggregating most useful information (both internal and external) and organizing it so that it can easily be found.
- Contextualizing gathered information by tagging, ordering, commenting, adding scenarios and background information, and rating content.
- Maintaining information and learning assets so that they remain relevant and up to date.
Organizations that are using curation as part of their learning strategies are seeing many benefits related to learning and performance, including a better understanding of the industry they work in, a stronger organizational culture, and better contextual understanding of their work.
The training department always has been a trusted resource for information related to improving job performance. Curation is another tool to aid us toward that end, one that also matches a growing shift in learning that relies less on formal training approaches.
Below are some of the principles and competencies to keep mind during the content curation process.
Identify Your Audience. Whom are you trying to attract? What kind of audience are you trying to build? What content sharing can you engage in that’s truly useful? New employees versus incubment employees? It’s important to have a clear picture of your audience before you start curating.
Identify Appropriate Topic Areas. Based on the audience you’re trying to attract, their interest/needs, and your own business goals, identify topic areas about which you’ll share content. The content you share has to be on topics that your audience cares about and is likely to read.
Know what’s relevant. Curators should be focused NOT on what interests them but on what will be most useful to their target population. They should be aware of the business strategies that affect that population as well as external trends. They should consult regularly to determine the topics that are likely to be of most interest going forward.
Make connections. Curators get connected to all of the most useful and reliable sources of information related to the interests of the target population. These could be internal or external. They will subscribe to blogs, news feeds, and mailing lists. They will join groups and communities of interest. They will network at conferences.
Act as a filter. Curators will receive many inputs through the connections that they establish, but only a proportion of these will be relevant to their target population and some of these will be of interest only to particular subgroups. Curators act like newspaper editors, browsing news reports to find the stories that will most interest their readers. Curating requires time and effort to build a network of reliable sources of expertise, sort and categorize the continuous stream of new information, and disseminate this to those most likely to benefit.
Be Part of the Content Ecosystem. Be part of the content ecosystem, not just a re-packager of it. Often, people think of themselves as either creators or curators as if these two things are mutually exclusive. What a curator really should do is embrace content as both a maker and an organizer. The most successful curators embrace the three-legged-stool philosophy of creating some content, inviting visitors to contribute some content, and gathering links and articles from the web. Created, contributed, and collected — the three ‘c’s is a strong content mix that has a measurable impact. Why? Because your visitors don’t want to hunt around the web for related material. Once they find a quality, curated collection, they’ll stay for related offerings.
Curate Content that is of Impeccable Quality. As a content curator, you are marketing yourself as a supplier of good information: a funnel that filters out the crap and promotes the gems. The more people can count on you and the quality of your content sharing, the more they will eventually support you, reshare and click on your links, and recommend you to others. Quality is a differentiator as a curator. Once you’ve gathered your fresh content, and deemed it worthy to republish on your social sites, the next step is ‘the attention grabber.’ Read the post thoroughly and create short updates that introduce the content to your community. Say something interesting and create a really great headline for each post. Never publish content without your own input or insight!
Write Clearly & Ensure Quick Access. Convey your message clearly and quickly. Ensure your content is written in clear, concise language, and accessible within two mouse-clicks or ten seconds. The important thing to realize is that we’re increasingly living in a world of information overload. So when people choose to listen to you it’s because you’re able to separate signal from noise. You provide a clear, contextually relevant voice within the topic or topics that you create and curate. When employees need information, they should not be wasting their time wandering through internal and external web sites to search for content. The content should be curated and accessible as close to their workflow as possible.
Curate Consistently. Share on a regular basis to ensure your site is constantly delivering updated, highly topical, keyword-rich content. Related to curating regularly, is keep your content at the level you originally targeted – If your audience is people who are new to the job, make sure you continue to share content for novices. Don’t start sharing content that will only make sense to people already immersed in their roles. If your audience is small businesses, don’t start sharing content on enterprise issues.
Embrace Multiple Platforms. It used to be that your audience came to you. Not anymore. Today content consumers get their information on the platform of their choosing. That means you should consider posting short bursts on Tumblr, images on Pinterest, video on YouTube, and community conversations on Facebook. And don’t leave out established sites and publishers. If your audience hangs out on a blog, you may want to offer that publication some guest posts or even a regular column. Essentially, you have to bring your content contributions to wherever your readers may be.
Engage and Participate. Having a voice as a curator means more than creating and curating your own work. Make sure you’re giving back by reading others and commenting on their posts. A re-tweet is one of the easiest ways to help build relationships with fellow bloggers and curators. And your followers will appreciate that you’ve pointed them to good content. One word here, I never hit an RT without clicking through to read what I’m recommending. You can also lose followers if you don’t put in the effort to recommend material that you really think merits their attention.
Share. Don’t Steal. Take the time to give attribution, links back, and credit. The sharing economy works because we’re each sharing our audiences, and providing the value of our endorsements. If you pick up someone’s work and put it on your blog, or mention a fact without crediting the source, you’re not building shared credibility. You’re just abusing someone else’s effort.
Ease the burden. Curators can ease the burden on their audience by providing synopses and reviews, tagging content with useful labels, and building lists for specific audiences or topics.
Back off. Curators do NOT need to be at the center of all knowledge sharing. Plenty of employees—particularly the experts—will want direct access to all the sources. Many others will want to act as curators on a peer-to-peer basis, and they should be encouraged.
Below are some standards to ensure content integrity and effectiveness.
Topic Owner. A curated topic should have a single point of contact (SPOC) or topic owner to nurture its content and manage its growth. One of the main challenges in the area of content curation is once you started curating a topic, you can’t stop curating.
Version Control. Version control indicators should include descriptions of changes. It takes discipline to take the extra step of describing the changes made.
Automatic Content Validation Reminders. Quarterly automatic e-mail notifications to remind topic owners to validate their content or ensure they are still committed.
What is the difference between Content Curation and Personal Learning Network (PLN)?
A Personal Learning Network (PLN) or Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) is the personal space of a content curator, where they are developing their personal professional network. When talking about PLN or PKM, we are referring to a content curator being part of many different social communities (e.g. subscribing to blog, checking Twitter feeds, using bookmarking tools, set up some Google Alerts, etc.) to discover unique, rare content on the net. The difference between PLN/PKM and Content Curation is that the former is personal, while the latter is for an intended audience.
What is the difference between Content Curation and Content Aggregation?
Content aggregation is a technology, curation is a human practice. The content aggregation process is automated through RSS feeds and offers the distinct advantage of updating content in real-time – a process that can’t be achieved when simply curating content by hand. This process typically requires less editorial oversight and resources. Curation, on the other hand, can be a far more manual process and allows content designers to thoughtfully pick specific content that best targets an audience’s needs. If your content is niche, highly targeted, topic-oriented, and requires real-time monitoring and updates, then content curation is right for you.