Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Online Content Curation: The Key To Building Visibility, Authority And Value

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As you are increasingly submerged by an endless flood of information, online content curators may provide a new, valuable service to anyone looking for quality information online: a personalized, qualified selection of the best and most relevant content and resources on a very specific topic or theme. Curated in real-time. When I first wrote about this, six years ago, I called this type of work newsmastering and newsradars, but now that the real-time element has come into play, as much as social media, video, Twitter and other new content sources, the original idea of what a newsmaster / content curator is and what tools and features are really needed has certainly started to change.

Photo credit: Erkin Sahin

Robert Scoble has recently posted on his blog a fascinating article entitled: Seven Needs of Real-Time Curators. In it, he outlines a fascinating vision for what features are needed to transform present-day aggregation and social sharing tools, into powerful newsmastering, meme-creation and online curation instruments.

While the philosophy behind content curation (a concept I started to explore back in 2004 with the newsmastering and "newsradars" ideas) is getting more defined as we discuss it more, there are still a lot of unmet needs for content curators to effectively put to use the potential for creating unique value that content curation provides.

But let's hit on the brakes for a minute and clearly point out what content curation is and why a "new media guide" like Scoble felt the need to make things clear.

Intelligent content curation has emerged as a new and powerful tool for B2B marketers, allowing them to easily sift through the flood of content, cost-effectively advance online thought leadership, and drive business through new and innovative customer interactions.

But not only. Content curation is also a way to make smaller fishes stand on the shoulders of giants.

Since content production cannot be a hobby if you are serious about your online business, you can fight the scarcity of your content production by organizing all the value that other companies (even your competitors) create.

By doing this, you slowly establish yourself as a trusted, authoritative source of information where people go when they need a quick bit of information that your business niche covers.

Think yourself as a librarian that collects and organizes information in a way that is accessible, easy to find and more digestible for anyone. A librarian is not the content owner, but her work is crucial to make people find all the good stuff that is out there.

But if you want to be that librarian, which are the online tools you should employ to be an efficient content curator?

The answer is that there is still no answer to this question. To date there is no single tool that allows you to be an effective content curator.

There are a number of real-time tools that allow you to sift through the abundance of information you are exposed on the web, but none of them provides you with the right formula to gather content from different sources and create a new information entity that makes sense.

That is why the future of content curation is not about further speculations, but rather on practical realization of what content curation should be. And this is what the online industry that operates in this niche should look forward.

If you want to understand the critical role that content curation or newsmastering, as I used to call this, will play in the communication ecosystem of today, and specifically why companies must embrace content curation to survive, read on.


Content Curation: Taming The Flood In B2B Social Media

by HiveFire team, Pawan Deshpande and Taariq Lewis

Why Content Curation Is a Smart Investment


It's a well-known fact that the game has changed forever when it comes to interacting with B2B customers and prospects.

While the Internet has proven an invaluable tool for the rapid sharing of information, the deluge of online content driven by new social media channels continues to grow at an ever increasing and relentless pace.

As a result, B2B marketers face the daunting challenge of finding an easy, affordable, and effective means of engaging their key constituents online, while providing customers and prospects with timely and relevant information.

Intelligent content curation has emerged as a new and powerful tool for B2B marketers, allowing them to easily sift through the flood of content, cost-effectively advance online thought leadership, and drive business through new and innovative customer interactions.

This article explains the critical role content curation plays in today's dynamic communications ecosystem, and why companies that don't integrate content curation technologies into their marketing toolkit will be left far behind by their competition.


Content Curation To Establish Online Influence


As B2B marketers are fully aware, thought leadership is one of the most valuable market assets, allowing companies to:

  • Drive industry dialogue,
  • create sustainable competitive differentiation, and
  • advance customer engagements throughout the sales cycle.

Thought leadership inspires trust, and trust advances the company brand authority over a particular business issue.

Over the past several years, new trends have reshaped the way in which companies establish and advance online influence.

B2B social media and B2B content marketing are playing an increasingly important role, and in some cases, are replacing traditional vehicles.


Content Curation Vs. Content Production


In today's Internet-driven communications market, savvy companies are responding to the need to engage prospects more effectively throughout the buying cycle - and recognize the critical role that social media channels play in content marketing.

As a result, an unprecedented publishing rush is on, with hundreds of thousands of companies, media outlets, trade organizations, analyst firms, and individual bloggers flooding the Internet with new digital content on a daily basis.

This content flows through an ever increasing variety of online communications channels, and leads to two key problems:

  1. Smaller firms struggle to compete against big companies, who can afford to produce lots of content.

    Finding the time to create content while executing a business is very hard. Yet publishing can't be a hobby if it's critical to business.

  2. With so many companies producing new content - and disseminating that content via blogs, email newsletters, media outlets, video channels, podcasts, and social networks - prospects are drowning in a sea of information overload.

    As a result, they're challenged beyond their means to easily decipher what information is relevant and which sources are trustworthy.

With everyone attempting to lead their respective industry discussions, these problems are getting worse.

Early on, it was the analysts and trade publications that steered the conversations. Next it will be you, the forward-thinking brand. Soon it will be your competitors, every single one of them. And their mantra will be publish, publish, publish.

  • Publish a press release,
  • publish a blog post,
  • publish a white paper,
  • publish a case study,
  • publish a podcast,
  • publish an eBook.


What Is Content Curation


So what exactly is content curation? Let's put it in context.

If you're familiar with Google Reader or a similar feed reader, you know it aggregates syndicated content - from blog posts, news headlines, and podcasts - in a single view.

The News Users 2009 study conducted by Outsell, Inc. finds that together, aggregators, newspaper web sites, and other sites account for 57% of where people first turn for news, up from 33% in 2006.

Fully 44% of those polled said they scan headlines on Google "without accessing the newspaper sites," the report said. For many users, the report continues, "headlines are enough and valuable..."

In other words, people are hungry for sites and social media curators that can filter content so it's manageable and relevant. And they view those sites as trusted resources.

Curation goes a step further than aggregation by adding an editorial component.

According to Rohit Bhargava, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Marketing for Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence, a content curator is someone "who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online."


Successful Examples of Content Curation: The Huffington Post and The Drudge Report


Successful online thought leadership requires your company collect - and make easily available - relevant information for your prospects. In addition to saving your prospects time, you will gain their trust.

The Huffington Post and the Drudge Report are prime examples of content curation in action, helping their readers find relevant content that answers tailored needs.

On opposite ends of the political spectrum, both sites attract readers interested in the niche coverage. Behind the scenes, their editorial teams are handpicking third-party content to feature on their sites.

The Huffington Post and the Drudge Report recognized the value of weeding through relevant information for their respective audiences. And they've been well rewarded.

  • As of February 2009, Huffington Post had 8.9 million unique visitors per Nielsen NetRatings.
  • According to the same Nielsen NetRatings above, The Drudge Report had a readership of 3.5 million in 2009.

Another example is The New York Times, which effectively curates blog posts from outside sources.

As Steve Rosenbaum of the Silicon Valley Insider says:

"... what The Times knows is that content that they validate with their brand and redistribution becomes more valuable, both to readers and to the content creators."


Content Curation At Work In The Business World

Now is the time to establish your company as a trusted resource: According to the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, conversations with friends and peers as a source of company information saw sizable drops in the U.S., UK / France, Germany, Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

"In other words, while Google is placing more emphasis on the results of personal opinions shared via social network sites, trust in those opinions is on the wane."


How Content Curation Works


So how does content curation work?

Just as librarians help us make sense of the overwhelming number of books and periodicals available in a library, content curators identify, organize, and share information that will be most relevant to their propects. It's as easy as one, two, three.

  1. Identify: The best librarians have access to hundreds, if not thousands, of information resources that deliver ongoing, real-time information on specific topics of interest to information patrons. On the Internet, these include RSS feeds, podcasts, saved searches, and search filters that deliver relevant information for easy processing and sharing.

  2. Organize: Librarians must consume and curate information in order to interpret and best understand how it addresses their patrons' information needs.

    Expert librarians can quickly process hundreds of documents daily, using tools that organize and automatically tag content, deliver summaries, and rank content as needed. Modern libraries even employ professionals with titles such as "metadata specialists".

  3. Share: This may be the easiest aspect of the curating role.

    Sharing requires that information is easily available for patrons to acquire and use on a recurring schedule.

    The Internet - and a number of tools - makes it very easy to publish resources online.

    However, the best librarians are able to deliver relevant information, while also highlighting the relationships between that information so patrons can understand how all the content fits together.


Who Is The Content Curator?


"To satisfy the people's hunger for great content on any topic imaginable, there will need to be a new category of individual working online.

Someone whose job it is not to create more content, but to make sense of all the content that others are creating. To find the best and most relevant content and bring it forward.

The people who choose to take on this role will be known as content curators... they will help to add a voice and point of view to organizations and companies that can connect them with customers - creating an entirely new dialogue based on valued content rather than just brand-created marketing messages." (Source: Rohit Bhargava)


Content Curation As an Influence Driver


Perhaps you think we're suggesting content curation should replace your content creation efforts.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Not only can content curation help you attract a steady stream of prospects, it can help you extract more value from your own content. Here's how: Just as The Huffington Post and The New York Times mix their original content with third-party content, you can expose prospects to your own content as you draw them in with curated content.

And because the content you curate is likely to reflect your own positioning on topics of interest to your prospects, your prospective buyers will naturally find your content relevant too. Not convinced?

In a study conducted at Ohio State University and published in June 2009, researchers discovered that participants were most likely to click on a news article that agreed with their views 58% of the time vs. 43% of the time for an article that disagreed with their views.

In other words, individuals are apt to consume content with which they agree, whether the topic is about politics or business. Plus, recent research by MarketingSherpa shows that B2B buyers are very receptive to receiving industry news and articles from vendor sources. In fact, 84% said such offers increase their likelihood of a click.


Content Curation Fosters Brand Authority


Moreover, content curation produces another powerful by-product.

The prospects with budget influence are getting their daily industry news and insights from several sources, many of which have established authority in their fields.

If your company is trying to establish brand authority, getting close to thought leaders can go a long way to achieving your goal.

In other words, by leveraging the authority of these information sources, you can boost the perceived credibility of your brand.

It's similar to sponsoring a report by an industry analyst - only the effect goes much farther and deeper when you're continually curating and delivering relevant content to your prospects.

"Strangely enough, curation shifts the balance of power back to brands and publications. While anyone can make content, the decision to gather it, and present it by trusted content curators has more risk, and therefore more value." (Source: Business Insider)


What Is The Future of Content Curation?


By now you should be convinced of the value of content curation.

However, it's one more task you need to add to the already complex job of B2B marketing. This is why you need to automate the process.

There is simply too much content for even the smartest marketers to handle. And unless you do a comprehensive job of curating all the information of interest to your prospects, you won't be able to establish brand authority.

The most effective curating systems will be automated, letting you quickly and easily re-purpose relevant content for publishing into automated marketing systems, your existing blog, and your e-newsletters.

They will automate SEO optimization so you can cut back your AdWords buying budget for keyword optimization - all while improving your natural search results. More importantly, they'll let your organization establish itself as an industry thought leader - in just a few hours per week.

What is automated information processing?

Automated information processing brings news clipping services into the 21st century. With it, marketers can identify, gather, and share information relevant to their prospects.

Originally written by the HiveFire team, and first published on March 1st, 2010 as "Content Curation: Taming The Flood In B2B Social Media".

About HiveFire


HiveFire enables companies to automate the organization and the curation of industry content for internet marketing and social media marketing. The company specializes in leveraging advanced technology to provide means of managing information for corporate marketing executives. HiveFire engineers and scientists work with machine learning, natural language processing, and information retrieval.

About Pawan Deshpande


Pawan Deshpande is the CEO of HiveFire, which he founded in 2007. He leads the overall management and product development strategy for the company. Prior to founding HiveFire, Deshpande served at both Microsoft and Google. Pawan attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for both his graduate and undergraduate degrees in computer science.

About Taariq Lewis


Taariq Lewis is the director of sales and marketing of HiveFire and launched the go-to market strategy for a content analysis and entity extraction company of MIT CSAIL engineers. As business development and product development summer associate of Lucid Imagination, Taariq launched initial go-to market strategy to target $1BB enterprise search market.

HiveFire team, Pawan Deshpande and Taariq Lewis -
Reference: HiveFire [ Read more ]
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posted by on Thursday, April 1 2010, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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