Content curation: what and why?

The latest buzzword to come down the digital media pipe is content curation. Everyones talking about it, from social media gurus to digital marketing experts. But what does it mean? Why is it a good thing? And how is it different from content marketing and content strategy?

 Content curation: what and why?

To take the last question first, content strategy is about making sure that an organisation’s content – typically, its web content, its digital images, diagrams and information – matches its business strategy. It’s the kind of thing that works well with the separate disciplines of usability and workflow.

Content marketing is about creating stories using photos and information for the benefit of an audience (and, by association, the authoring brand). It’s the kind of thing that content agencies like Sticky Content do. And it’s really good for seo – making webpages more linkable and searchable on Google, and other search engines.

So what is content curation? In simple terms, content curation is all about sharing great third-party web content on a specific theme with like-minded people. That’s it. It’s the kind of thing web users have been doing for ages with social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit. But, since then, it’s moved on.

Nowadays content curation takes a more organised approach to sharing content on a particular theme. Twitter, with its themed hashtags, and StumbleUpon, with its peer-reviewed content, have both brought a more intense social dimension to making webpages searchable. Newer tools like Pinterest (a photo-sharing site like Flickr, but much more themed) and Storify (which offers more of an opportunity to editorialise and add context) are moving on from seo to facilitate the creation of communites based on shared tastes.

All fine and dandy. But what are the business benefits? Well, for one thing, people are just as interested in a well-chosen collection of content pieces as they are in this or that individual article or video. They are even more interested if each piece in the collection is contextualised by a line of editorial or two. It all draws organic search traffic to a site and makes for great seo.

Another benefit of effective content curation is that, once it’s pulled in the traffic, it holds on to it. It builds engagement with people beyond the one search, motivates them to revisit and come back and see what’s changed, take advice and make all sorts of decisions. In other words, it’s a great tool for online retail.

At the end of the day, you need the same skills to curate content as you do to create it – editorial judgement, a feel for narrative and the ability to write a killer line of copy.