Manifesto For The Content Curator: The Next Big Social Media Job Of The Future ?

RohitBhargava
Rohit Bhargava Founder, Influential Marketing Group

Posted on October 9th 2009

Every hour thousands of new videos are uploaded online. Blog posts are written and published. Millions of tweets and other short messages are shared. To say there is a flood of content being created online now seems like a serious understatement. Until now, the interesting thing is that there are relatively few technologies or tools that have been adopted in a widespread way to manage this deluge. We pretty much just have algorithmic search, with Google (and other search engines) as the most obvious example. Social bookmarking and social news have been around for some time (ie - sites like Digg or delicious), and new models of aggregation like Alltop are springing up to help us navigate all this content as well.

The real question is whether solutions like these will be enough. By some estimates in just a few years we will reach a point where all the information on the Internet will double every 72 hours. Double. I'm running out of metaphors to describe the magnitude of this content creation. The predictable result of this is that brands are beginning to focus on content creation when they start to look at social media. What are we going to create, or what are we going to get our customers/patients/fans/audience/victims to create? Is that really the best question we could be asking?

What if you were to ask about the person that makes sense of it all? The one who sifts through all the content and picks out the best and most worthy. This person is missing from most corporate communications teams. It's not a commonly defined role on any ebusiness teams. In fact, there are few jobs like this at all. The closest comparative role may be contained within the rising Library 2.0 movement (one I wrote about some time ago), but this is not frequently linked to business communication or marketing.If this role did exist, what would it be called?

The name I would give it is Content Curator. A Content Curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online. The most important component of this job is the word "continually." In the real time world of the Internet, this is critical. If you look at how many individuals are currently using their Twitter account to highlight interesting bits of content they locate or how del.icio.us users have tagged and shared content on that site for years, you'll understand that this idea has been steadily growing organically.

In an attempt to offer more of a vision for someone who might fill this role, here is my crack at a short manifesto for someone who might take on this job:

MANIFESTO/JOB DESCRIPTION: CONTENT CURATOR

In the near future, experts predict that content on the web will double every 72 hours. The detached analysis of an algorithm will no longer be enough to find what we are looking for. 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. The future of the social web will be driven by these Content Curators, who take it upon themselves to collect and share the best content online for others to consume and take on the role of citizen editors, publishing highly valuable compilations of content created by others. In time, these curators will bring more utility and order to the social web. In doing so, 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.

After writing this, I can't help but wonder if there might already be people out there with this title. Let's find out: the first person to send me a scan or photo of a business card with this title on it will get a free signed copy of Personality Not Included ...

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RohitBhargava

Rohit Bhargava

Founder, Influential Marketing Group

Rohit Bhargava is a trend curator, founder of the Influential Marketing Group, and the author of five best selling business books on topics as wide ranging as the future of healthcare, how to build a brand with personality, and why leaders never eat cauliflower. He has advised hundreds of global brands on marketing strategy and is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Georgetown University. A two time TEDx speaker, Rohit has been invited to keynote events in 27 countries and is regularly quoted in media outlets including The New York Times, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR.

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Comments

As technical writers engaged with user communities, we get to see this need for content aggregation. Perhaps, this is the reason why the role of technical writer is evolving into the role of a community editor. In this new model of Help systems, the core Help created by technical writers is supplemented with content available in the community. And yes, you're right. The technical writer working in this model needs to continually find and share the most relevant content.

I don't have that title but that is, to a large to degree, how I'm using my Twitter account. I've defined the audience on Twitter than I'm seeking (marketers/smm people/bloggers) and I try to act as a filter, highlighting good content for them. Of course, I also provide my own quality content. The followers I've gained seemed to have come to me because of this service that I provide. And I even got a request from someone the other day for more b2b info!

I think you're right about the role, although I think you underestimate the role that tools will play in this. I just blogged about the fact that I think there will be tools to help consumers sort through and rate both the value and the authenticity of content on the web. http://bit.ly/3heVqc 

@neicolec

AllTop?
Thanks for this article Rohit! I accomplish the role of this "Content Curator" under the guise of "Communications Strategist" for a diverse client base at Laidlaw Group (www.laidlawgroup.com). I help our clients understand how to grow a brand on the web - as an adjunct  to existing marketing and advertising programs - with the functions of "content curation" discussed.

Interesting stuff, not for the faint of mind - or, intellect. At once a scientist and an adventurer, a right- and left- brainer - individuals in roles like mine will become increasingly valuable - especially when they can mobilize teams to "crowd-source content curation" as Sarah suggested.

I started on this path because I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and figured out how to process massive amounts of information productively.

I'd love to talk to other "Content Curators" or individuals wondering, where do I start and how do I do it?
-@adurableheart

Coming in very late but thought you did a great job pulling together several strands of current thinking and contribution taking it to the next step.  But I did not see an  answer to the question posed in several comments. Can you either provide the source of the intriguing 72-hour statistic or explain how your arrived at your calculation?  Terrific post.
I think the success of content curation may depend on the purpose and application. Assigning someone the task of organizing and filtering that content may require that person to exercise their own judgment unless setting some sort of criteria is possible. Without that, it could be a subjective process - what one person thinks is 'good' content may not be the case for another.

Jan has already touched on this, but there also needs to be an element of trust in that curator for it to be successful. There are examples of this today. Twitter is a good example that has already been mentioned and there are others that collect and share content in one form or another - like Shelfari, which provides the same function for books. We 'follow' people whose opinions we are interested in and if we trust their opinion we will pay attention to the content that interests them. We act as curators of our own content by choosing the people and groups whose content we see value in and who have curated their own content, quite possibly by the same method.

This effort involves significantly more than finding and regurgitating links, though. A good curator must be skilled at:

  • locating and evaluating valuable content
  • organizing and connecting content so that it is as accessible as possible
  • creating and re-purposing content when it adds to the underlying value
  • capitalizing on the Social Web to build connections and context
  • building trusted relationships with learners and other curators
  • design learning experiences (in a much broader sense than traditional approaches)

Well I do not have a business card or for that matter a profession of being a content curator, but I like to see myself as someone who is a resourcer.

That is my life goal, to resource others. I am constantly looking for new material to spread with my twitter followrs, blog readers, and friends. The hardest part is going through it all to make sure it is good content and not just link bait. But I think you are absolutely correct. This will be another job that is very important for companies.

I like the helpful information you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I'm quite certain I will learn many new stuff right here! really its A GOOD BLOG REALTED WITH SOCIAL MEDIA GD WORK YOU HAVE DONE.

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