This is a subject that has been getting more of a focus over the last few months. As with any form of Social Strategy there is a lot of debate on what you should be doing and how much you should be doing it.
Content curation (in this context) is the act of finding the best content online, whether that’s articles, images or videos and then sharing that content on your own platform. It can follow a theme and be presented in an easily digestible format.
Upworthy and Meta Picture are two perfect examples of these. Upworthy does nothing original on its own (other than writing brief introductions) but its aim is simple, find important stuff and share it with others. This “stuff” is typically inspirational or political. Meta Picture is even simpler. It finds popular and funny images and posts them.
This act of curating content can be seen in places like Tumblr and Twitter too. Tumblr is generally users finding or making things and sharing them around. However on Twitter we start to see a more “professional” take on this, with people sharing good articles for their followers to read.
At one point this act of sharing happened without much thought. In fact it’s a common thing to hear from Social Media Managers that you should share a large ratio of other people’s content on your social accounts. The point of this is to break free of the “me, me, me” attitude and improve your reputation. Sharing a good article from someone else’s blog can grab the attention of its original poster and makes it look like you have more interest in giving your audience good stuff than you do in self-promotion.
So why would it be killing Social Media Marketing?
Marketers like Guy Kawasaki have built huge followings by doing nothing but curating content. They go out, read articles and share things they feel their audience will like or be interested in. They also post in an extremely high volume. (Guy Kawasaki can post 60+ tweets in one day!) The idea being that this constant stream means an increased chance in their tweets being spotted on a daily basis.
On the other side of the argument are marketers who think this new “trend” is a dangerous thing, supposedly distracting us from doing more important tasks such as creating our own content. They also worry that this increase in Social Media “noise” will start to put regular users off platforms such as Twitter. I’ve heard quite a few complaints of Twitter becoming “link heavy”.
When an argument such as this takes place I always try to see it from two different points of view. The first is that of a regular user using Social Media for information and entertainment. The second is that of a Social Media Marketer.
What does regular old me think about content curation then? Well, I check websites like Meta Picture, Tumblr and Buzzfeed regularly and I appreciate the convenience of having lots of fun things in one place. On Twitter I’m quite happy to follow someone if they share links to valuable articles on writing or social media. In fact I bookmarked one yesterday. Did I check to see if the Tweeter was also the person who wrote it? Well, no. All that mattered was that this was presented to me, I liked what I saw and I saved it for later.
As a Social Media Manager I’m constantly on the search for a good conversation starter. That might come from a blog post we’ve made or it can come from something someone else made. I’ve shared content from across the web because I thought it had value and I assumed that someone would appreciate me sharing it. But I also know that our followers are interested in who we are and what we’re getting up to. The posts that perform the best are photos from the office or updates about us. So I certainly don’t want to take time away from our own content creation.
I generally hold to the philosophy that there needs to be balance in everything. Too much of anything is usually a bad idea. Content curation has its place in Social Media Marketing. There’s nothing wrong with showing people things you enjoy or find useful but over doing it will drown out any individual voice you might have had. It’s up to you to decide where to draw that line.