I’ve been doing a lot of content curation lately; you know, the latest fashionable trend in digital content. At least, I hope it’s fashionable, because it’s a wonderful development that throws a wrench in the works of automated delivery.
Content curation sets up an editorial layer in the delivery of news and other information. Human editors pick the stories their users “need” to know, as an alternative to flooding them with algorithmically-chosen content their users might “want” to know.
In the case of one client, we choose ten stories per week to repost on their Twitter and Facebook pages. The stories aren’t necessarily directly related to the products the company sells, but are of interest or concern because they relate to the company’s overall field of business. To use a hackneyed phrase, it’s a “value-add:” selecting reliable external stories of interest to their customers builds trust and establishes them as a source of truth.
Cue Google News, who has stepped up and begun testing an “Editor’s Pick” section to their news results. Mashable has a great post about this development, but allow me to sum up: The company has partnered with publishers like Slate.com, Reuters and the Washington Post who are hand-selecting relevant stories to deliver alongside automatically generated news links in a move to further personalize content delivery.
Not only is this human curated content valuable from a news presentation standpoint, drawing attention to stories that may be critical to public awareness, but it can highlight stories that automated content farms may ignore. Moreover, there is value in recommendations, as born out by Facebook Likes, retweets on Twitter, and the like.
Content that’s recommended (curated) catches our attention because we know someone sat down and thought about the value of that story. Whether we know the recommending party directly (our Facebook friends and Twitter contacts) or not (Slate or Washington Post editors), we’re conscious of the fact that a human being thought a particular story important enough to warrant prominent placement. That’s a feeling of confidence and trust no computer algorithm can provide.
This confidence expands beyond just news delivery. Companies who aren’t in the publishing business can still curate content for their customers as a way of increasing awareness and driving sales. If people know Company A cares enough to select important, relevant news stories that relate to my interests and perhaps even offers suggestions for help, people will see that company in a positive light: as a trustworthy source of information interested in more than just selling widgets.
What do you think? Is content curation worthwhile? What effects does it have on customers? Comment away.