As the digital content tsunami continues to crash down on us all, drowning us in news, information, opinions and insight (not to mention zany cat videos!), it won’t be long before we all go goggle-eyed – if we’re not already!
But we’re only experiencing the tip of the content iceberg.
It’s still early days as far as content marketing is concerned but as the business world starts cottoning on to the power of publishing original content as a marketing strategy, watch for the explosion of company-generated blogs, podcasts, video, infographics, mobile apps, whitepapers, photography and ebooks. KABOOOM!
But let’s not forget the increasing number of individual content creators – bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers and the like (in 2007 according to Forrester Research, just 13 per cent of people in the US using social technologies were creating content; four years later this figure had jumped to 24 per cent. It would be safe to say this figure would be higher still today in 2015).
Of course we have the traditional media outlets that are now fully digital and pumping out content in a big way.
And rounding out the mix is the growing trend of entrepreneurial, agile ‘hybrid’ media outfits often run by former journalists who have taken a blog and raised the stakes somewhat, building big audiences along the way. Some examples of hybrid media include Mumbrella, Broadsheet etc; I’d even put Huffington Post in this category.
So with increased levels of content being published by individuals, ‘hybrid’ and traditional media, plus businesses themselves, the result will be more content. A lot more content!
This, of course, leads to …
Blogger and author Mark Schaefer foreshadowed this trend in early 2014 with his theory on ‘content shock’.
Schaefer describes content shock as “the emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it”.
He says that by 2020, the amount of web-based information (most of it consumer-driven) is expected to increase by 600 per cent.
So we’re satisfied that increased levels of content is going to lead to terminal information overload. This then leads us to another ‘trend’, and that is the growth of …
With so much content being published, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that a fair bit of it is going to err of the side of dreck. That’s another way of saying it will be crap.
As you’d expect, traditional and hybrid media are probably going to produce the most professional content. Some bloggers, particularly passionate subject matter experts, also can be adept at publishing quality content, but it can still be hit and miss.
And we’re likely to get a real mish-mash from brands.
We only need to look at social media to provide us a guide on that score. Remember a few years back when social media started to take off and businesses of all sizes jumped on-board the bandwagon with little purpose or strategy other than ‘having to be on it’? They didn’t take the time or effort to try and understand the medium, and therefore used social to blast their message out (many businesses still do!).
So the quality of content we get from brands will vary greatly, from absolute dross to highly polished, very professional output (and everything in between).
Which brings us to the issue we’re all going to face:
In a world of ‘informational abundance’, where much of the world’s content is of low quality, how are we going to cut through the dross and find the content gems worth reading, watching and/or listening to.
ENTER THE EXPERT CONTENT CURATOR.
A good content curator makes sense of the mountain of information that’s out there.
They identify, select, review, filter and add value to the content, releasing publicly only those articles, videos, podcasts and images that are, in their humble opinion, worthwhile distributing to their audience.
According to Joe Pulizzi,founder of Content Marketing Institute, content curation is organising and presenting external, valuable content in a particular niche and presenting that to a defined user base in a compelling way. (Here is a list featuring 18 more definitions of content curation).
Find the right curator in your profession or industry or niche that you follow and they will not only save you considerable time wading through a heap of guff to find the gems, but you will be all the more informed for the experience.
On the flipside, why don’t you (or your company) become the curator?
At the very least this could be as simple as judiciously sharing on the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn links to blog posts you think others – your followers and connections – might be interested in.
Even producing, say, one blog post a week that features links to the articles, videos etc that caught your eye during the week is a good start.
Or you could become more committed and strategic in your efforts.
We’re starting to see some excellent curated feeds bobbing up, but the more popular ones have been doing it for a while. Sometimes they’re feeds of information curated by dedicated and passionate individuals; others are part of publishing outfits.
Whatever the circumstance – whether individual, publishing company or business, we’re going to see the rise and rise of niche-focused curated news and information feeds – valuable services that weed out the gold from the crap, the diamonds in the rough.
And we’re all going to benefit from their efforts!
Here are some examples of curators (individual and company) that have build strong global audiences:
- Brain Pickings by Maria Popova - “a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why”.
- Media ReDEFined by Jason Hirschhorn - “Curated media + tech + pop interest remix”.
- The Fetch – “We curate the best events, news, cool jobs and must-reads in one place”.
- Next Draft by Dave Pell – “The day’s most fascinating News”.
- Morning Media Newsfeed - Daily feed of media news via Mediabistro
- SmartBrief - “We curate need-to-know business news in 15+ industries and deliver it in email newsletters to 5mil+ readers”.
By becoming a content curator today, what will you be doing?
- Providing a valuable service by delivering useful and relevant content to your audience.
- Empowering your audience with knowledge whilst saving them time.
- Growing the level of influence you have within your niche/industry/profession (become the go-to resource).
- Building an email subscriber list of people who have opted in to receive information from you.
Pretty compelling reasons to take content curation seriously I reckon!