The digital age has changed the definition of the verb “to curate” from the dry description of a person who acts as a curator of artifacts and exhibits in a museum (dry and boring) to one who collects and distributes articles, graphics or photos (dynamic and exciting-sometimes) from one source and broadcasts them to one or more channels.
Whether that process should be called curation, syndication or the less glamorous but perhaps more accurate, distribution is open to debate.
Interestingly the equally dry, noun form of the word, a curate, described an assistant vicar or priest, generally one in the Anglican denomination. Some of the stuff that gets curated now would certainly not be suitable reading or viewing for a curate.
The purpose of this post is not to debate the suitability of the new use of the word, there is more similarity with the old meaning than some other newly fashionable words with totally different new meanings. The meaning is similar, the material and media it now refers to are not. All further references to it in this post are for the new meaning; creating or finding content then posting it on various social media platforms.
It does raise the question of discernment and selection. The different approach by “curators” is fascinating. Some are prolific, sending out a non-stop stream of tweets with links, scooping, pinning and posting to Facebook, Google + Linked In and more. Others are more selective, either posting less frequently or to fewer channels.
What is the best tactic?
Depends on our strategies, our audience, our niche and the channels we use.
I have almost finished reading an advance copy of Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s new book Impact Equation, I will post a longer review when I have finished and re-read it. There is just too much good stuff in there to absorb in one reading. Either that or age is catching up with me! It is a seriously good book and a must read for any one trying to understand marketing and mass communication in the Internet age.
One idea that is discussed in the book is curation. How widely should one blog post for example be distributed? Should it get sent out in the same format to all the major social media platforms? The authors suggest that might not be the best idea. Most of us have different groups of followers on different platforms. Obviously there will be a degree of overlap, but our Facebook friends may well be different to our twitter followers and different again to our Linked In connections or those in our Google + circles.
Apart from different groups needing different messages, there is the problem of overwhelm, most of us suffer from an overload of information. Do I really want to see a tweet about your latest blog post on twitter, then the same information as an update on Facebook pages, Linked In and Google +. Although I am not an American, I am interested in the political process and Presidential election. I do not need to see the same curated updates about political activities on every social media channel.
With some of the tools available, like Onlywire, Scoop-it and Buffer it is very easy to fall into the trap of blasting out updates like a shotgun on steroids. I found out recently that I was posting my blog posts twice to one of my Facebook pages because I had forgotten that I had linked it through the networked blogs app and included it in my Onlywire settings. Between networked blogs and Pinterest I was doing the same on my personal page.
When I first started my Linked In account, I linked it to twitter. A few years later, with many more twitter followers, some of my Linked In contacts mentioned how irritating my high level of twitter traffic was in their updates. I no longer have the accounts linked, my followers on both platforms increase consistently and complaints have stopped.
My own reaction to information overload caused me to be a lot more selective about what I Scoop, buffer or share on the major platforms. It is interesting to note the experts are recommending a degree of restraint as well.
There is a huge difference between sharing a good blog post by clicking on a share or retweet button on that post on its original publication site and buffering or sharing an article from a major blog or on-line newspaper on all your social media channels when it has already been shared by hundreds of your connections or friends.
What are your thoughts? Do you curate excessively? Do you get overwhelmed by the same content flying at you from all directions? Leave a comment.
Wishing you success,