Full Circle Communications

May 2014
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"Ease in writing" comes from a poem by Alexander Pope, the British poet:
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, 
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Content Curation: Why It's Worth Doing  
asst-beaded-necklaces.jpg Content curation is "the art of finding and repurposing the best and most relevant content on a specific issue to engage your audience," according to Alan Rosenblatt, a partner with turner4D in Washington, DC.

He says curation makes sense to "feed the beast" that now includes social media, blogs, websites, email, and other channels. "These channels represent the primary way to interact with audiences," he said, "and with some of them, you interact with far more people than through any other means."

Thus, the content you decide to share through these channels requires thought.

Your organization may create so much content that you have to curate by deciding what is most relevant to share. Or you may need what he termed "external content" to complement what you produce. Either way, you find and share the information through a content curation process.

Curators have developed various steps to describe the process (see Resources below).

For example, Content Curata suggests 5 steps: Identify your topic; Follow your sources; Organize your material; Create how you will share it; and Publish & Promote.

Meanwhile, turner4D suggests these 5 mission-driven steps: Find, Frame, Share, Analyze, and Get Results.

In the spirit of curation, I am going to elaborate on a few ideas where I see our writing and editing skills can add value.

What should we curate?

Screen for content that:
  • Supports your mission
  • Comes from a credible source
  • Is well written, designed, or spoken (for test, graphics, and audio/visual)
  • Is information that your audiences might not otherwise come across.

Example: Your organization is concerned about indoor air pollution (which the World Health Organization estimates is responsible for 4 million deaths annually). You find and decide to curate an article in a scientific journal about how cookstoves can reduce pollution and improve health in low-income countries. 


REMINDER: You are curating, not confiscating. Remember proper attributions! 


How do we share it?

Ideally, you use the content in more than one of these channels, depending on your target audiences:
  • Blogs (your own, or as comments on others) 
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Youtube 
  • Newsletters
  • Emails
  • Your website
  • Other places your target audiences go to for information.  

What do we do with it?

Back to the cookstove journal article, which is, shall we say, perhaps a bit too thorough for a general audience. Rosenblatt refers to the importance of the "framing message."

In other words, rather than just post a link, you might:
  • Write a headline and short introductory sentence so people know why you chose to share it
  • Extract the main points for a blog post or newsletter article 
  • Compose a tweet, with a link to the article 
Depending on the audience and channel, you might come up with a catchy  ("Why not light a fire?") or a more serious phrase ("Promoting cookstoves will save lives"). Also, consider the call to action, or what you want the audience to do as a result--share it further, donate, introduce cookstoves in their own programs, etc.

How do we sustain our curation strategy?

  • Set do-able goals. You can't share everything, nor would your audience welcome it. Maybe 3 curated pieces per week as an initial goal? 
  • Use technology for the tasks that can be automated, such as gathering external content from which to select. The Resources below are a start.
  • Check your analytics for patterns. Learn where you are getting the most engagement (by topic, by communications channel, by day/time, by "framing message") and focus your resources accordingly. As Rosenblatt emphasized, "it's important to keep track of how you're doing so you can do better the next time around."  

If this hasn't convinced you...

"Content curation is one of the most important strategic questions a campaign must deal with," Rosenblatt told me. "If interaction is valuable to your organization, then it is your mission to make sure you are doing it well. Content curation is an essential part of that."

What has worked for you--or not worked? Let me know, and I will share it (curate it?) with other readers.


 Content Curata: Lots of introductory articles on the website, including "5 Simple Steps to Becoming a Content Curation Rockstar."

15 Top-Notch Content Curation Tools:  Organized by what they can do

 SocialMediaToday: Alan's weekly blog on related topics.

Upworthy and ThinkProgress: Rosenblatt suggested these 2 sites as good examples to study for would-be curators.

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