I like watching America’s Funniest Home Videos (AFV) with my kids and giggling about the dumb things people will do. What an enduring brand this show has built. On first glance, it’s a bit surprising AFV has lasted this long – well into the age of YouTube and the explosion of online video. Or is it?
AFV is all about curation, the essence of value in an increasingly crowded world of content. Sit down for an hour – well, 40 minutes if you record it and skip through the commercials – and laugh your ass off, or at least have a good chuckle once or twice.
According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, every two days the search engine adds the equivalent amount of content that was produced since the dawn of time up to 2003. I know, read it again. Incredible, eh? It’s likely more now because this quote was from 2010.
Computers may be able to process that much content, but we humans sure can’t. That’s where content curation steps in.
In the rest of this post, I will offer several helpful strategies to guide your content curation, then describe the curation system I’ve set up for myself.
Strategic content curation
Content curation includes a variety activities that enhance the value and meaning of these vast streams of information. For instance, the curator highlights what’s important and filters out the noise. The curator may also layer on their own perceptions of meaning into the sharing process by consciously interpreting and unconsciously showing bias. My point is this: content curation is a form of expression in the age of information. How and what you share represent opportunities to express your personality and demonstrate your thought leadership. And these are two critically important aspects of developing your personal brand and building social capital.
When developing a content curation strategy, consider the following:
1. Go wide and go deep. Online marketers will tell you to focus your content, find your niche and serve it. There’s value in that, for sure. But as a personal brand builder, I will advocate the opposite – breadth matters as much as depth. People will connect with your personal brand if they connect with you. So if your personality tends toward an obsessive focus on narrow areas of interest, then run with it. However, if you are inquisitive, broad-minded and appreciate diversity, follow your instincts and look for the common themes running through a wide range of subjects. There’s value in breadth and depth.
2. Thought leadership matters. Active curation is a great way develop and maintain thought leadership. By establishing an efficient system for processing large amounts of content, you stay ahead of the knowledge curve in your areas of expertise and interest. Remember, thought leadership is largely subjective, so aim to build your social capital within your circle of influence. You don’t need to be the most influential person in the universe – just in your tiny corner of it. The very fact that you can manage an intelligent content curation strategy connotes some thought leadership in and of itself.
3. Consume and curate, then create. Organize your time around these three activities in this order. If you’re a leader, you probably already set aside time each day to read the news. Stop looking at papers and start consuming digital streams of information. Daily. Twice daily. Everything you read is content for your curation stream. If you like it, rave about it. if you don’t, say something constructive that adds value. Then, and only then, sit down and create some original content of your own.
Tactics and tools I use for content curation
The amount of time I spend, the strategies I employ and the tools I use are in constant flux in response to a variety of factors.
Having said that, I’ve stumbled across some things that work well for me. Here’s what I do:
1. I start by building custom content streams to feed my curation pipeline.
- I use Twitter and Google+ to follow people that influence me and review my feeds several times daily;
- I use Google Reader to subscribe to blogs using RSS feeds and review periodically;
- I use Google Alerts to set up numerous keyword searches the results of which are emailed to me daily;
- I use Postano which emails me regularly with content curation suggestions that can be published using Postano and repurposed elsewhere;
- I’m also quite taken with Twylah which I periodically use to remind followers of recent tweets they may have missed.
There are lots of other tools to use, but there’s a logic to my choice.
2. Use a Twitter scheduling tool. I’ve found one in particular called Buffer that allows me to quickly and easily schedule tweets and retweets over a custom schedule that I control. Buffer has a great Chrome extension that allows you to add ANY page you’re browsing to the buffer – you can even use this in Google Reader to send articles to your buffer. This enables me to consume content anytime – early mornings, late at night, weekends – yet have a steady stream of personally curated content throughout the day.
3. Finally, I interact with followers, retweeters and commenters via my mobile device throughout the day. I make sure my Twitter settings are directing me notifications of retweets and mentions and then use the iPhone Twitter app and Hootsuite primarily to respond. Responsiveness is an important part of deepening your online relationships and building familiarity and trust.
So, that’s what I do to maintain a rich, personally curated (as opposed to keyword-generated) content feed.
What about you? Any suggestions to share from your personal curation experience?