March 16, 2011
Content curation, a term that gained popularity in 2010, is the art of culling relevant, valuable and useful information from the vast ocean of data, and presenting it in a cohesive, interesting and comprehensive style that gives a ‘big picture’ view of a specific niche topic.
No longer can anyone claim that they can peruse and make sense of all the content that exists (and is being constantly added) on even a very narrow range of subjects. 47 million websites were added in 2009 and an estimated 550 billion documents exist online today.
The role of a content curator was first proposed around 2004, when the catchy term ‘Newsmastering’ was introduced by Robin Good of MasterNewMedia.com to describe a dedicated content analyst who would gather, collate and categorize content from various sources and compile it for consumption by those who are interested.
What makes content curation necessary?
Three factors drive the demand for content curation.
Too much information – Its volume is growing day by day, minute by minute, and in every possible direction.
Too little time – The things you need to get done seem to keep growing in inverse proportion to the time you have available for them.
Too uncertain – However diligent and dedicated you are in researching information, it’s still possible you missed something important.
Because many people need to remain up to date with developments and information in specific areas related to work, career or education, there is a growing need for professionals who are expert at finding and presenting this on a continuing basis.
What does a content curation process involve?
The first step is gathering news and information, preferably in real time as events unfold. This can be critical in certain areas. Aggregation of content from various resources has been possible for many years. But with the accelerating rate of information growth, mere aggregation alone is no longer enough.
That’s why a second level of analysis needs to be layered over it. Human curators, with specialized skills and an intense interest or passion for the subject, study the multiple news items and stories that have been aggregated, remove duplicates or shallow commentary pieces, and weave together the most relevant tid-bits that present an overall picture of the events that are unfolding.
An even higher level of content curation is when the curator, aided by vast experience in the field, includes expert opinion, feedback and insights that add even higher value than from just patching together a collection of informative news feeds.
Why would content curation work today?
Everything boils down to trust. Or rather, a lack of trust in conventional media channels to present all the latest news in the form of unbiased information, complete stories, different perspectives, or multiple facets of the same event. Also, every consumer is aware that there is an underlying agenda, political or otherwise, that governs and influences the kind of coverage traditional media provides.
Content curation done by a trusted expert has the potential to bypass this lack of trust by presenting information along with direct links to the original sources, and commentary that can easily be validated and confirmed by facts and data presented in those sources.
By respecting a consumer’s intelligence and presenting concise summaries along with pointers to the source data for further study and verification, content curation can easily engender trust, overcome doubt and speed up the knowledge acquisition process.
So is content curation only about collecting news stories?
Absolutely not. Content curation is a quantum jump from content aggregation. Good content curation adds value to the individual news stories, helping a reader or viewer make sense of the broader picture that’s unfolding, staying abreast of recent developments, and digging into diverse sources for the latest data.
Content curators pore over RSS feeds and blog posts, breaking news stories and archived articles, books and journals, interviews and conferences, even social networks that break news fast – and then figure out the best way to present only relevant information from this deluge of data in a way that makes sense, and will cover all future developments as well.
Viewed in that sense, content curation is “story-telling in real time”, with a focus on specific niche interests.
Is content curation profitable?
Considering the rush in the recent past to project content curation as the next wave in information marketing, it is natural that profit models exist – or soon will.
One area that is already making money for early adopters is the provision of curation services and tools. Priced to suit a range of budgets, these services offer a variety of aids to content curation for different purposes. Some allow management of a complete modern news room, while others help niche marketers find extra content snippets to share with their core audience.
As yet untapped, but with great future potential, is the concept of sponsoring channels created through content curation. Specialized niche information and news which is presented in a way that helps target audiences stay ahead of the curve in their chosen areas of interest will easily attract advertisers and sponsors. Some curated channels may even become paid subscription products themselves.
Even more exciting is the potential of building communities where people willingly pay to get more and better in-depth information on a well-defined set of topics they are deeply interested in keeping up with. And surely there will be many more ways innovative pioneers of content curation will monetize their rare, in-demand skills.
In summary, those seeking to explore content curation as an infopreneur success model for the future must view their role as being similar to curators in museums who pick and select the choicest masterpieces to showcase in their gallery, and create exhibitions that delight discerning audiences enough to keep them coming back for more.
Content curation is a specialty whose time has come. Will you master it quickly enough to add value to your audience as an infopreneur?
Dr.Mani Sivasubramanian is an experienced Internet infopreneur and the author of “Think, Write & Retire!” On his blog “Information Marketing Made Easy” at http://www.EzineMarketingCenter.com/blog/ he teaches thousands of entrepreneurs how to build a profitable online information business.