Five Big Problems with Content Curation

markwschaefer
Mark Schaefer Executive Director, Schaefer Marketing Solutions

Posted on July 18th 2012

Five Big Problems with Content Curation

problems with content curation

I recently attended a conference where a major financial institution proudly displayed its new automated content curation system.  Basically, their answer to the content marketing dilemma every company is facing is to use an outside company to skim off the best financial-services content around the web and present it on their site as a value-added customer service.

On the surface, this seems like a very elegant solution. I mean, why spend the time and money to create original content when you can curate unlimited content from the web and present it as your own customer portal?  An intoxicating idea.

This is a popular trend but it is also problematic because it flies in the face of other marketing considerations …

1) Why should I trust you with my news? 

If I really am interested in this subject matter, there are thousands of other places I can get the same thing. The fact that this company is curating the content makes me inherently distrustful that it is going to be complete and unbiased information.

2) Whose problem are you solving?

Why is this company uniquely qualified to curate this content?  They’re not. In fact they are out-sourcing the task to an algorithm. They don’t bring any special  value to the task so they’re not really solving MY content needs. They’re solving THEIR need to put something out there and check the content marketing box or maybe enhance their SEO status, but are they addressing a customer need?

3)  One size does not fit all

The company serves consumers, retail institutions and other banks. Those are threes distinct customer segments with wildly different content needs. Yet there is only one news feed. How is one content stream going to address the information needs of all three market segments in a meaningful way?

4) It’s all about customization

Taking it down to an individual level, one of the big mega-trends is customization.  We want it our way. Even the idea that something CAN be customized is more appealing than one product that is supposed to be for everybody.  I want to tweak and filter my personal news stream, not just accept what somebody else thinks is important.

5) Human or machine?

This company was turning over its content marketing to a company who had developed a software program to curate the content. At that point, content is not king, it is a commodity.  There is no value-add. Further, trusting your consumer messaging to a machine is probably a problem waiting to happen.

While these observations came to mind in my conversation with the banking executive, these concerns are probably relevant for anybody considering a content curation strategy.

Now, there are certainly very legitimate uses for content curation when it is coming from a true trusted authority and its really helping customers navigate through an overwhelming amount of information.

But before jumping on the content curation bandwagon, take a step back and look at what you are really trying to accomplish. What are the possible risks versus benefits of creating (and controlling) what is showing up in your company’s content stream?

What are your thoughts on the plusses and minuses of content curation?

Image: Gushing fire hydrant by Joseph Robertson

 

markwschaefer

Mark Schaefer

Executive Director, Schaefer Marketing Solutions

Mark Schaefer is a consultant, author of The Tao of Twitter, and college educator who blogs at www.businessesgrow.com/blog.
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Comments

gbardwell
Posted on July 19th 2012 at 3:55PM
Mark,
 
A nicely thought out rant for sure. 
 
First, it seems that the nature of media since the switch from the one source (morning paper) to the thousand of streams that you mentioned leads naturally to this situation. Now information/news is not about a source of facts, it has become a stream of commentary as much as anything else. Just look at the false information the President and his competitors put out daily – top of mind is truth for many.  Marketers want to be this source – naturally, they do pay the media’s bills.
 
Second, I want to comment on some of your points:
 
  1. Yes, there are 1000 sources for each industry. I do not have time for 1000 – 2-3 tops. News by its nature is aggregated (curated). So for any market/industry this happens. Most of us will pick a few and switch from time to time. As a marketer, I would like one of them to be our source.
  2. Agreed. If you are going to curate and share have a focus and add your opinion when possible. For big financial institutions an opinion is probably a 6 months approval cycle – so probably not going to happen. They should have their own content in stream as well.
  3. One size does not fill all. A shirt is a shirt – but they come in all designs and sizes. Fully automated systems have this weakness to be sure. Keep a human in the loop and target as much as possible.
  4. Customized and filtered? Like only watching MSNBC or Fox News – limits your perspective. But there are only so many minutes a day for consumption. I prefer picking my feeds and ignoring what I am not interested in. And I add some search feeds to pull in some new sources – to add some spice and new stuff.
  5. Use tools to source your curation topics. Human to select and add value too.
Content Curation is sometimes a necessary part of modern content marketing – just a part. I do it and will do more. The benefits are there as well as the draw backs (like wine, chocolate, cake, etc.). Just do not overdo or skimp on the quality. For marketers it should be about educating customers. Quality leads are better than any lead – but not all marketing organizations are setup (or rewarded) that way.
 
Greg